50 years ago today, the seminal counter-culture film Easy Rider was released in theaters. Peter Fonda co-wrote the script and co-starred with Dennis Hopper portraying hippie bikers on a cross-country road trip riding high on the proceeds from a drug deal. On a shoestring budget of $400,000, and a break-out role for the unknown actor Jack Nicholson, the film directed by Hopper would gross $60 million and ultimately kickstart a new golden era of independent American filmmakers in the seventies like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Altman.
The role earned Jack Nicholson an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor and the tragic tale was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, while its ‘ground-breaking’ soundtrack featured The Band, The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix and Steppenwolf. WATCH the trailer… (1969)
On this 50th anniversary, Fathom Events is bringing it back to over 400 theaters for limited shows on Sunday and Wednesday.
MORE Good News on this Day:
- 230 years ago, citizens of Paris stormed the Bastille prison during the French Revolution, freeing seven prisoners and branding the memory of Bastille Day forevermore (1789)
- In Joplin, Missouri, the George Washington Carver National Monument became the first United States National Monument in honor of an African-American (1943)
- Jane Goodall arrived at the Gombe Stream Reserve in present-day Tanzania to begin her famous study of chimpanzees in the wild (1960)
- Elvis Costello and The Attractions made their live debut at The Garden, in Cornwall, England (1977)
- The movie premier of Pink Floyd’s The Wall was held at The Empire, Leicester Square, London, England (1982)
- David Lange led his Labour party to a landslide victory in New Zealand by promising to ban nuclear weapons and establish the world’s first and only nuclear-free nation, which, as Prime Minister three years later, he did (1984)
- The Peach Festival in South Carolina broke the world record for the most guitarist performing in unison for the longest period of time, when 432 guitarists played ‘Louie Louie’ for 30 minutes (1989)
- Duped financial clients who lost millions in the largest Ponzi scheme ever got to feel some vindication when Bernard Madoff arrived at a federal prison to begin serving a 150-year sentence (2009)
- And, Happy 31st Birthday to Irish MMA fighter Conor McGregor, who needed only 13 seconds to become the Featherweight Champion in 2015, while setting the record for the fastest title victory in the organization’s history.
And, on this day in 1912, Woody Guthrie was born in Okemah, Oklahoma. The folk singer and songwriter who traveled with farmers displaced during the Dust Bowl, became famous for writing “This Land Is Your Land.” He was a major influence on Bruce Springsteen and the young Bob Dylan, whom he mentored before he died in 1967. Woody’s protest songs were often performed on his guitar decorated with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists.
This Land Is Your Way had never been sung on radio or TV or recorded by a famous performer, but some children’s school songbooks printed it and it was so well received that within a decade millions of people knew the words and could sing along… Guthrie also is the father of folk musician, Arlo Guthrie (who did Alice’s Restaurant, and Coming Into Los Angeles). WATCH Woody perform below…
Also on this day 101 years ago, the renowned Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman was born. Portraying the consciousness and emotions surrounding death, the church, family, betrayal, and agony, Bergman directed over 60 films (most of which he also wrote), including the influential Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), The Seventh Seal (1957), Wild Strawberries (1957), The Silence (1963), Persona (1966), Scenes from a Marriage (1973), and Fanny and Alexander (1982).
He first saw the film Black Beauty at age six and it affected him deeply, keeping him in bed speechless for days. At nine, he got a toy projector and created his own puppets and a theater, living some of the happiest years of his life before being subjected to the harsh rules of a conservative, minister father. Ironically, the stark and austere Swedish filmmaker was a huge fan of Ghostbusters, Sex in the City, and The Muppets, which produced a famous parody of his style.
Notoriously averse to any of Hollywood’s advances, he did eventually make films in English (The Touch and The Serpent’s Egg) and work with American actors (Elliott Gould and David Carradine, respectively), but mostly stayed true to his artistic vision from his homes in Sweden and Germany.
When asked in his old age to name his demons, Bergman—one of the greatest artists of the 20th century—admitted to a long list of them, including fear, crowds, rage, and regimentation, but the worst of them he called the “Demon of Disaster”. Always in a high state of disaster-preparedness, he imagined that everything he did in a day, everything he planned for that day onwards, would go terribly wrong.
In 2004, Bergman emptied his apartment in Stockholm and his room at the theater where he produced dozens of plays, and retreated to his beloved Fårö (the island where he wrote his scripts and filmed many of his most famous movies), never to venture forth again. He died there at age 89, three years later, instructing his nine children to sell everything at auction. Fortunately for the world, they disregarded his wishes. (1918)