The first version of “Easy Rider” lasted more than four hours
Some influential films leave their mark on the industry with a bit of subtlety. That influence is there if you know how to look for it, but it’s not the sort of thing that makes the film in question a household name. For others, however, the very title of a film can serve as shorthand for an entire genre or movement. There’s a reason why Peter Biskind called a book about the history of cinema Easy Riders, Raging Bullsafter all – director Dennis Hopper’s 1969 film had an outsized cultural impact.
It was also almost much longer. Recently Posted Air Mail an excerpt from the book Hollywood: Oral History which covered the production of Easy Rider and the way certain personalities were taken into account in its development, notably the low-budget films produced by Roger Corman.
Some of the most interesting information about Easy Rider relates to the time it took to do so. Editor Donn Cambern quoted a figure of 11 months spent working on the film since shooting began. “The first cut of the film was about four hours and 40 minutes long,” he recalls. “Dennis [Hopper] I just wanted everything, so we tried everything.
While the idea of a much longer initial cut is far from unique, it still seems like a lot in light of Easy Rider, which is just over an hour and a half. It is one of many films that the production company BBS Productions, much of the production of which was then collected on a box set from the Criterion Collection. Learn more about the transformation process of Easy Rider that was filmed in the one audiences know is also a reminder of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making films memorable – something that remains just as true today.
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