Easy Rider: druggy ’60s indulgence or directorial spawning ground? The movie seems to be both, since it not only launched Dennis Hopper as a director but featured all of the following future auteurs:
Character: George Hanson, a Southern lawyer who falls in with two bikers.
Directorial Oeuvre: Drive, He Said (1971), Goin’ South (1978), The Two Jakes (1990).
Auteur Status: Nicholson wrote or cowrote a handful of notable B pictures before Easy Rider brought stardom, but his record behind the camera has been uneven. The campus comedy Drive, He Said was a clunker. Goin’ South was an inventive romp. And no one really blames him for the mess that was The Two Jakes.
Character: Mary, a New Orleans prostitute.
Directorial Oeuvre: Music videos. She directed that slice of ’80s cheese ”Mickey,” her sole hit single, and a concurrent long-form video, Word of Mouth (1981). She’s also directed videos for Talking Heads, Fishbone, and David Byrne.
Auteur Status: Basil, whose career as a dancer and choreographer goes all the way back to TV’s Shindig in the mid-’60s, remains quite an impressive…choreographer. She mapped the steps for both Bette Midler’s and Tina Turner’s recent tours.
Character: Wyatt, a.k.a. Captain America, a dreamer and biker.
Directorial Oeuvre: Hired Hand (1971), Idaho Transfer (1973), Wanda Nevada (1979).
Auteur Status: Debuted strongly with the Western Hired Hand; made peculiar detour with the eco-parable Idaho Transfer; skidded to a halt with a clunky Brooke Shields starrer, Nevada. Currently, Natural Born Killers producers Jane Hamsher and Don Murphy are trying to put Fonda back in the director’s chair.