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‘Easy Rider’ turns 50: Secrets of the counterculture classic

“A man went looking for America and couldn’t find it anywhere.”

That was the tagline to “Easy Rider,” the beloved buddy pic that starred Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as a Harley-riding hippie duo who meet a boozy lawyer, played by Jack Nicholson, in prison.

It’s been 50 years since the movie first hit the big screen, and, in the decades since its release, the movie has become a classic of American cinema.

Here, five facts that even film geeks might not know about it.

The movie was truly made in the moment

The plot for “Easy Rider,” was outlined in the screenplay, but a good deal of the dialogue was ad-libbed on set. “[The] improvisation was always within the framework of the obligations of the scene — a scene which already existed,” Terry Southern, who wrote the screenplay with Fonda and Hopper, told The Paris Review before his death in 1995.

The drug use is real

In 2009, Peter Fonda confirmed the longstanding rumor that he, Nicholson and Hopper really did inhale during the film’s pot-smoking campfire scene. “Man that stuff burned,” he told ExtraTV. The acid the actors drop in a New Orleans cemetery, however, was faked. “We did not take LSD, no matter what the rumors say,” said Fonda, “You can’t make a movie when you’re ripped like that.”

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