I’m responding to the article in Issue 54 of Senses of Cinema on Easy Rider and its influence:
Though the author discusses key creative and production aspects of the film quite thoroughly (and compellingly) he completely omits any reference to one of the film’s primary participants–my father, Terry Southern. This is not entirely surprising, as Peter Biskind himself (Easy Riders and Raging Bulls) was unaware of Terry’s influence on the production–and contacted me and Rip Torn to help round-out his book in terms of Southern’s involvement.
But there have also been a variety of articles and books (such as Marc Singer’s New Yorker article ‘Whose Movie Is This?’ and Lee Hill’s BFI Easy Rider book) detailing how Terry was not only responsible for the most memorable dialogue in the script, the film’s overall tone, and for creating the Jack Nicholson character, but he was also a key element to the film’s financing–as he was, at the time, the most credible and ‘bankable’ entity of the group, and, of course, the group’s only writer. Referencing my father’s place in the ‘legacy’ of Easy Rider–in cinema history–and in the culture (as the author does with Dennis Hopper/Peter Fonda) –and also, of course, in reference to the ‘controversy’ surrounding its authorship and subsequent profit-share–could have enhanced many of the interesting aspects covered in the article–as well as provided useful counterpoint to his thesis about whether the counterculture was represented not by the ‘authors’ of the film. (Terry was one of the icons of the ’60s–having appeared on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s and covered Chicago ’68 for Esquire).
As always, I appreciate Senses of Cinema, and this time your special issue on Eric Rohmer.
In the Spring of 2005, the magazine I was then editing, Cinéma 09, published an ensemble on “Rohmer inconnu”. It included: a text by Pierre Léon with the same title as Alain Hertay’s (“Rohmer éducateur”), discussing the “télévision scolaire” films, which had all been shown during the Rohmer retrospective at Chaillot (the last great event at that auditorium); an extremely well researched essay by François Thomas about Rohmer’s first, unfinished feature, “Rohmer 1952: Les Petites Filles modèles”; and a DVD with three Télévision scolaire films: Stéphane Mallarmé, Victor Hugo: les Contemplations, and Victor Hugo architecte. Together with a humorous introduction by Rohmer, recorded at the Cinémathèque.
Actually, this information is not just meant to sing my praises, since as far as I know that issue of Cinéma is still available (even though the magazine is now defunct), and your readers have a chance to see more of Rohmer’s educational films that way.
Best regards from a faithful reader,