Director Bob Rafelson has put together an absorbing, if nerve-wracking, film.

Despite its solid American roots, this pic is reminiscent of nothing so much as the French films of the 1940s and 1950s.

Jack Nicholson is first seen on the job as a Southern California oilrigger sporting a ‘cracker’ accent and consorting with three members of the same breed especially his dumb, sexy girlfriend Rayette (Karen Black).

It’s clear from the beginning that he doesn’t think he belongs in this environment. But only later, when he quits his job and goes back home to the State of Washington does it become clear that his hard hat and his accent were a masquerade.

The film’s nervewracking quality is consistent with its content. Nicholson’s performance is a remarkably varied and daring exploration of a complex character, equally convincing in its manic and sober aspects.

1970: Nominations: Best Picture, Actor (Jack Nicholson), Supp. Actress (Karen Black), Story & Screenplay

Five Easy Pieces

  • Production: Columbia/BBS. Director Bob Rafelson; Producer Bob Rafelson, Richard Wechsler; Screenplay Adrien Joyce [= Carolyn Eastman]; Camera Laszlo Kovacs; Editor Christopher Holmes, Gerald Sheppard; Art Director Toby Rafelson
  • Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1970. Running time: 96 MIN.
  • With: Jack Nicholson Karen Black Lois Smith Susan Anspach Helena Kallianiotes Sally Struthers
  • Music By: