Jul 5, 2024

We're All In The Same Cage Here

Easy Rider
Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
The drive-in was home to a true American classic on the Fourth of July this year.

Show banner designed by Andrew Kern

There was an excellent pre-show DJ set from a very cool man named Guy who brought a pile of bandanas to hand out to fans in attendance.

It started raining pretty heavily not long after we pulled on the lot.  It continued raining until about ten minutes prior to showtime, after which point the skies cleared up and it was a beautiful night.  We sat outside for the entire movie and the trailer reel after the film, and as soon as we packed up and got back in the car to drive home, there was rain falling on the windshield.  This isn't the first time that this has happened this season either.  The drive-in gods have been good to us!

Easy Rider premiered in theaters nationwide two days before the launch of Apollo 11, six days before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, and a month before Woodstock.  It was a pivotal year in American history, and although it was eleven years before I was born and have no first-hand experience to make this assumption, this movie felt like it captured the time and place that it was released as well as any movie ever made.

Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper are both absolutely incredible as Wyatt and Billy, but Jack Nicholson gave one of the best performances I have ever seen on the big screen with a performance for which he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 42nd Academy Awards.  This exchange between Hopper (Billy) and Nicholson (George) is one of my favorite exchanges that I've ever seen in any film.
Billy: They're scared, man.

George: Oh, they're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to 'em.

Billy: Hey man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody needs a haircut.

George: Oh no. What you represent to them is freedom.

Billy: What the hell's wrong with freedom, man? That's what it's all about.

George: Oh yeah, that's right, that's what it's all about, all right. But talkin' about it and bein' it - that's two different things. I mean, it's real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. 'Course, don't ever tell anybody that they're not free 'cause then they're gonna get real busy killin' and maimin' to prove to you that they are. Oh yeah, they're gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom, but they see a free individual, it's gonna scare 'em.

Billy: Well, that don't make 'em runnin' scared.

George: No, it makes 'em dangerous.
The things that irrationally rile people up may have changed over the years, but the reaction to them really hasn't.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Last night at the Mahoning was my first time seeing Easy Rider.  I've heard of it before it was announced on the drive-in calendar, but it's a movie that I had absolutely no intention of ever sitting down to watch.  The only thing I knew about this movie prior to seeing it is that it had something to do with motorcycles.  The only interest I have in anything automotive is the fact that they take me to and from the things that I actually am interested in, so Easy Rider could not have been further off of my radar.  In reality, this movie isn't actually about motorcycles at all, but I never would have known that, and I never would have known what an incredibly powerful film this is if not for the Mahoning Drive-In Theater.  After 3+ years of coming here, the amount of movies, music, people, and ideas that this place has brought into my world has become too numerous to list.  It's a special place, and I'm thankful that I live close enough to it to make it a part of my life.