We look back at the 1969 film featuring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and one epic road trip.
Editor's Note: Throughout the month of October, C&I is celebrating the golden westerns of 1969, a year that changed the game for the beloved film genre. Check the Entertainment tab each day to see a different film recommendation by C&I senior writer Joe Leydon. And be on the lookout for the upcoming November/December 2019 print edition, which prominently features one of the 25 greatest films of 1969 on its cover.
Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper shrewdly skewed tropes and stereotypes of classic westerns by sending two aptly named modern-day outlaws — Wyatt (Fonda) and Billy (Hopper) — on a cross-country journey aboard motorcycles, not steeds, while driven by some vague yearning for freedom (or, failing that, a good time at the Mardi Gras in New Orleans).
It’s worth noting that Fonda (who passed away earlier this year) capitalized on the smash-hit success of Easy Rider to get a green-light for The Hired Hand (1971), the cult-fave Old West drama that employed him as director and star.