Five Easy Pieces…


…the title of this film from 1970, nowhere explained in the final version, but referring to a beginner’s piano exercise book.

This image is from the most famous scene, in which Jack N. wants some toast but the waitress tells him the rules don’t allow for side orders of toast.  He orders a chicken salad sandwich on toast, but hold the chicken…”between your knees.”  When she demurs, he sweeps the table settings crashing to the floor with a swipe of his arm.

Wikipedia remarks that this scene is “iconic” of the anti-authoritarianism and rule breaking of the 60s and early 70s, and I think that it was certainly taken that way by many.  Watching it now, and thinking about the end of the film in which Jack’s character, Robert Eroica Dupea, decides to continue his life of aimless wondering and running away from messes he makes, I have to think that the film’s take on 60s counter-culture was a little bitter.  Bobby breaks all the rules…into pieces, you might say…and he’s got nothing left at the end.

The woman on the right, with the long black hair, is another bummer from the 60s.  She’s fleeing to Alaska with her friend, and goes on ceaselessly about the filth, dirt, and general scumminess of mankind.  In Alaska, she thinks, it’s clean, because she’s “seen a picture of it.”  She is a twisted piece of work.

5 Responses to Five Easy Pieces…

  1. troutsky says:

    The concept of ‘iconic’ is troublesome in just the way you describe, somehow freezing a cultural moment into a snapshot. Mediated through all the critics and punditry, a meaning gets normatized and pronouncements are made. Nicholson is the rare celebrity able to defy expectations and morph almost continuously.

  2. jahsonic says:

    come on Depesto, we can still have fun!

  3. lichanos says:



  4. jahsonic says:

    That should have been Rayette Dipesto, Karen Black’s character

    It’s the one phrase I remember vividly from this film.

    Everytime she is dissapointed with Jack Nicholson, about not having a real relatioship, he convinces her to “still have fun.”

  5. lichanos says:

    Ah…a very deep ironic riposte to Troutsky, I see. Jahsonic – you continually amaze. Not least because you don’t “get” Fellini. Your tastes always surprise and puzzle me…

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