Any listing of movies with marijuana would have to include Easy Rider as being one of the most culturally important.
First, it starred three of the greatest actors of the era, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and the incomparable Jack Nicholson. It was written by Fonda, Hopper, and Terry Southern, and had music by The Band, The Byrds, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Steppenwolf, one of my favorites.
Hollywood loved it, but any movie that cost about $400,000 and then grossed over $60 million would be loved in Tinseltown. I think they would have loved it even more if it had had a Hollywood (happy) ending so they could have made a sequel or two.
What’s not to like? Well, spoiler alert, it was actually too dark with counter cultural paranoia. In 1969, at the peak of the Vietnam war, Nixon had just been elected and his reefer madness war on marijuana was just beginning. The country was bitterly divided, then as now.
Nonetheless, one hilarious scene with marijuana was the most memorable. Nicholson played an alcoholic small town lawyer who is introduced to weed as he and Hopper and Fonda sat around a campfire. It was classic Nicholson.
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Over fifty years later, only Nicholson is still with us, and marijuana is “almost legal”, but it has definitely not been an easy ride. Nonetheless, Nicholson’s scene in Easy Rider would inspire many comic scenes with marijuana, including one with Peter Fonda’s sister.