98 minutes| U.S.A.| 1970| Colour| D-Cinema

Forty years after its original release and today’s Hollywood is still struggling to match the freshness and sheer emotional impact of Bob Rafelson’s groundbreaking portrait of an American outsider. Fresh from stealing Easy Rider, a then 33-year-old journeyman actor called Jack Nicholson was clearly ready for primetime, and his performance as Bobby Eroica Dupea – a guy who knows he’s better than the California oilfields where he labours but doesn’t seem at home anywhere else – remains an absolute knockout for its roguish charisma, crafted spontaneity and startling rawness. Working from a landmark screenplay by Carole Eastman, which followed its own unpredictable logic rather than industry convention, Rafelson’s film shapes brilliant acting (Karen Black heartrending as the doormat girlfriend Rayette), hang-loose camerawork, Chopin and Tammy Wynette into a stone-cold modern classic. In a golden age for American film, none shone brighter than this. Ordering a side of toast would never be the same again. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).

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