Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Five Easy Pieces (1970)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Five Easy Pieces (1970)

In Bob Rafelson's intriguing character study and road film, appearing during the New Wave age, about a disaffected, frustrated male seeking his identity:

  • the film's two central mis-matched characters: ex-classical pianist/blue-collar S. California oil-rigger Robert Eroica Dupea (Jack Nicholson), and his uneducated, ignorant, needy, crass and dim-witted girlfriend/waitress Rayette Dipesto (Karen Black), who was introduced in the bathroom, barefooted and still wearing her orange diner waitress uniform, with teased up hair, heavily made-up cat's eyes, and frosted lips - and was thoroughly obsessed with country singer Tammy Wynette
  • the sequence of Robert's flirtations at the Black Gold Bowling Lanes (while Rayette was pouting outside in the car) with bottle blonde Twinky (Marlena McGuire) and chubby-faced, busty, curly-haired brunette Betty (aka Shirley) (Sally Struthers), when he told them: "I wish I had more time to talk to you girls, but..."
  • the early morning scene during a freeway jam when Robert exited his car, yelled at everyone: "Why don't we all line up like a goddamn bunch of ants in the most beautiful part of the day," and gave an impromptu concert performance playing on an upright piano (out of tune) in the back of a truck stuck ahead in the traffic
  • Robert's reunion with his sister Partita or "Tita" (Lois Smith) in an LA recording studio, when he was told that his father was seriously ill after two strokes, and his initial reaction of denial: "Don't tell me about this"; she advised lovingly: "Don't you think it's right that you should see him at least once?" - and he reluctantly agreed to visit; he added: "Maybe I'll go into Canada after. I'm not gonna stay long, Tita, you know, one week at the most"
  • the jarring sex scene in Betty's apartment - filmed with a hand-held camera, as Bobby was coupled with the nude female, who grabbed onto him as he carried her and spun around the room, while she screeched and gasped, until they fell exhausted onto the bed as Betty climaxed, and her screams subsided
  • the scene of Robert's emotional outburst at the wheel of his parked car -- he angrily thrashed around in the driver's seat in an uncontrollable fit; he struggled with himself (caught between two extremes) about whether Rayette (now pregnant) should join him or not, fearing being tied down by responsibilities to her, and also embarrassed by her lack of class or refinement
  • his car trip to his patrician family in the Pacific Northwest and the giving of a lift to an aggressive, complaining lesbian couple Palm Apodaca (Helena Kallianiotes) and Terry Grouse (Toni Basil) on their way to Alaska to escape society and filth because it was "cleaner": ("All those signs selling you crap and more crap and more crap. And I - I don't know. I don't know. I don't even want to talk about it...It's just filthy. People are filthy. I think that's the biggest thing that's wrong with people. I think they wouldn't be as violent if they were clean, because then they wouldn't have anybody to pick on. Dirt. Not dirt. See, dirt isn't bad. It's filth. Filth is bad. That's what starts maggots and riots...")
  • the sequence of long-haired, anti-filth ecology nut and malcontent Palm's memorable ranting monologue - when she preached prophetically about her discontent regarding "crap" and "filth"
  • the celebrated roadside cafe-diner scene of an impatient Dupea's frustrating fight with a strict, rude and surly waitress (Lorna Thayer) (who allowed 'no substitutions') over his initial side order of wheat toast - that quickly became a chicken-salad sandwich order: ("You make sandwiches, don't you?...You've got bread and a toaster of some kind?"...OK, I'll make it as easy for you as I can. I'd like an omelette, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast. No mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce, and a cup of coffee...Yeah. Now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven't broken any rules") in order to bypass the diner's rules about menu substitutions - including his further sneering challenge: "I want you to hold it (the chicken) between your knees" and his clearing of the table with one swipe of his arm - of all the water glasses, place-mats, cutlery and menus after telling her: ("You see this sign?")
Roadside Cafe-Diner Scene
  • the post-diner sequence in the car, when hitchhiker Pam praised him for his defiance: ("Fantastic that you could figure that all out, and lie that down on her, so you can come up with a way to get your toast, fantastic!"); Bobby pointed out that he actually WASN'T successful in obtaining what he ultimately wanted - in this case, his food: "Yeah, well, I didn't get it (the sandwich), did I?"; she responded: "No, but it was very clever. I would have just punched her out"
  • the moving camera as Robert played a Chopin Prelude for his brother's cultured fiancee Catherine Van Oost (Susan Anspach), then downplayed his talent: ("I picked the easiest piece that I could think of. I first played it when I was eight years old, and I played it better then"), and then ridiculed her emotional response to his playing; he claimed he had no inner feeling or emotion while playing - and then shortly later in her upstairs bedroom, he continued to make another improper romantic advance toward her: ("I faked a little Chopin. You faked a big response...Up till now, all I've been getting from you is meaningful looks at the dinner table, and a lot of vague suggestions about the day after tomorrow"); he forced her onto the bed, and told her: "Let's be serious"; when she resisted, he ordered her to "shut up," and then she quietly challenged him: "No inner feeling?" He forced a kiss from her, stripped her sweater from her torso, and they begain to make love
  • the sequence prefaced by Robert wheeling his dying, unresponsive, invalid, mute wheel-chair bound father Nicholas (William Challee) into the cold outdoors of Puget Sound, as the sun set; he began a painful, one-sided, but conciliatory speech - an apology for his abandonment of his family and talent, for giving up on his responsibilities, and for not living up to his father's high ideals: ("I don't know if you'd be particularly interested in hearing anything about me, my life, I mean. Most of it doesn't add up to much that I could relate as a way of life that you'd approve of. I move around a lot. Not because I'm looking for anything, really, but - 'cause I'm getting away from things that get bad if I stay. Auspicious beginnings. You know what I mean?...)
Robert's Apology to Dying, Mute Father
  • the long, final and bleak scene when Robert abandoned his entire life - at a Gulf gas station, after staring long and hard at himself in the rest-room mirror, Robert departed (without his car and wallet) and stranded Rayette, to catch a ride north into Canada with a logging trucker (who warned: "Where we're going, it's gonna get colder than hell")
Abandoning Rayette at Gas Station

Girlfriend Rayette
(Karen Black)

Robert Flirting with Betty and Twinky

Robert's Freeway Piano Jam

With "Tita" in LA Recording Studio

Wild Sex With Betty

Emotional Outburst in Parked Car

Hitchhikers: Lesbian Couple

Palm's Rant About Crap and Filth

The Playing of a Chopin Prelude ("the easiest piece")

Catherine Van Oost (Susan Anspach)

Romantic Advance Toward Catherine


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