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'Easy Rider' heading to LI theaters for 50th anniversary

Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda in 1969's

 Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda in 1969's "Easy Rider." Credit: Columbia Pictures

“Easy Rider,” the landmark counterculture film from 1969, celebrates its 50th anniversary with a return to theaters nationwide in July.

The film screens July 14 — the very day of the film’s original release — and July 17 at the Regal Westbury 12, AMC Stony Brook 17 and Regal Hampton Bays 5.

Though not the first film to delve into the hippie culture, “Easy Rider” was the first that seemed to come straight from the source. It’s the story of two bikers, played by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, who use the money from a cocaine sale (the buyer is played by record mogul Phil Spector) to fund a spiritual road trip across America. Jack Nicholson, in a star-making turn, plays a rakish ACLU lawyer who joins them. Written by Fonda, Hopper and Terry Southern (“Dr. Strangelove”), “Easy Rider” addressed themes of drug-use, “dropping out” and communal living. Hopper, the director, encouraged improvisation and naturalistic acting; the drugs, reportedly, were real.

Shot for roughly $400,000, “Easy Rider” became a hit, a must-see for hippies, wannabes and older squares curious about all the fuss. It won the First Film Award at Cannes and earned two Academy Award nominations, for original screenplay and for Nicholson as supporting actor. It’s since become a cultural touchstone and an inspiration for generations of independent filmmakers. It was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1998.

For show times and tickets, visit fathomevents.com.

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