Classic Movie Monday
August 20 – Easy Rider (95 mins)
1. The movie cost $400,000 to film. Licensing of the music cost $1,000,000.
2. 220+ minutes. There are differing accounts of the original length, some claim it was over four hours!
Some of the scenes which were in the original cut, but got deleted are: The original opening showing Wyatt and Billy performing in a Los Angeles stunt show (their real jobs), the two of them being ripped off by the promoter, getting in a biker fight, picking up women at a drive-in, cruising to, and escaping from Mexico to score the cocaine they sell, an elaborate police and helicopter chase that took place at the beginning after the dope deal, with police chasing Wyatt and Billy over mountains, and across the Mexican border, the road trip out of Los Angeles, edited to the full length of Steppenwolf’s ”Born to Be Wild” with billboards along the way offering wry commentary, Wyatt and Billy being pulled over by a cop while driving their motorcycles across highway, two of them encountering the black motorcycle gang, ten additional minutes for the volatile café scene in Louisiana, where George deftly keeps the peace, Wyatt and Billy checking in a hotel before going over to Madam Tinkertoy’s, extended and much longer Madam Tinkertoy sequence.
3. The Monkees. Both the band and TV series were founded by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider.
Both then parlayed their success with The Monkees into film projects. Schneider put up the initial $40,000 to film the Easy Rider scenes in New Orleans, which were filmed in 16mm (which is why those scenes are so grainy). He eventually bankrolled the entire film. Rafelson wrote and directed Five Easy Pieces starring Jack Nicolson. Peter Fonda wanted CS&N to write a soundtrack for the movie, but was vetoed by Dennis Hopper after he heard the temporary music that was used by Donn Cambern during editing. The lyrics to The Ballad of Easy Rider were written by Bob Dylan. Roger McGuinn from The Byrds added his magic to create the only song written for the film.
4. The commune. The hitchhiking stranger (Luke Askew) is picked up near Flagstaff, AZ. They travel through the Painted Desert and then Monument Valley. Although there is a commune is this area, permission to film was denied, so the commune scene was a set built near Malibu.