Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider
Dennis Hopper as Billy, cowboy-styled biker and cocaine smuggler
Across the southern United States from Los Angeles through Louisiana, February 1968
Film: Easy Rider
Release Date: July 14, 1969
Director: Dennis Hopper
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The late Dennis Hopper was born 86 years ago today on May 17, 1936. The iconoclastic filmmaker had been acting on screen since the ’50s before he made his directorial debut with the groundbreaking Easy Rider.
Filmed early in 1968 but not released until the tumultuous summer of ’69, Easy Rider had been conceptualized by Hopper with screenwriter Terry Southern and fellow actor Peter Fonda, who would join Hopper on screen as the pair of freedom-loving bikers we follow across the country following a lucrative cocaine sale. There’s plenty more drug use along the way, from a few LSD tabs scored from a fellow traveler to introducing the wild-eyed lawyer George Hanson (Jack Nicholson) to marijuana, but the substances are secondary as Easy Rider allegorizes the death—or, perhaps, the contemporary redefinition—of the American dream. Continue reading