The Vintagent Classics: The films that inspired us.


Run Time: 1:35:00
Director: Dennis Hopper
Writer: Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Terry Southern
Key Cast: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson


‘Easy Rider’ premiered at Cannes in 1969, and won Dennis Hopper the ‘Best First Work’ award (though with only one competing entry).

“The American chopper became iconic in the 1969 film Easy Rider which spurred a renewed audience interest in chopper motorcycles. A landmark in American film history, Easy Rider captured the restless and angry energy of a youth culture that turned to alternative lifestyles as a means of escape, while at the same time exposing the discord and hatred that separated generations. Cast as outlaws in a modern landscape, Wyatt, aka “Captain America,” and Billy — imagined by the screenwriters as incarnations of Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid — ride their piston-powered steeds across the South, hoping to reach New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras.” – Roger Ebert 


Cliff Vaughs might have coined ‘Easy Rider’, and conjured the two principal characters (those iconic choppers), but it was Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, and Terry Southern who are credited with developing the structure and themes of the film.  While viewers in a chemically-altered psychological state failed to see it, Hopper and Fonda’s cutting edge ‘new cinema’ project, shot on the fly, using real drugs on screen, and with dialogue written between takes by Terry Southern, channelled a Chaucer-esque exemplum straight from the 1370s.  Depicting a lifestyle is not necessarily an endorsement, and most viewers missed Wyatt’s point when he declared ‘We blew it’ at the film’s end.  The directors, deep in the mix of the psychedelicized 1960s, are intoxicated but ultimately penitent narrators, spinning a fireside hero’s fantasy of two men who hope to find freedom through a big drug sale.  Wyatt hides their cash within the fuel tank of his Captain America Harley, a succinct metaphor for America in the 20th Century, as viewed through the smoke from riots in Paris and Watts; a country with capitalist riches spoiling its heart, plastic-wrapped inside a patriotic tank of gas. – Paul d’Orleans

Read more about this film’s place in motorcycle history in Paul d’Orleans’ book ‘The Chopper: The Real Story‘.


Cliff ‘Soney’ Vaughs and ‘Easy Rider’