feb-231.jpgOn this day in 1968, director Dennis Hopper and producer Peter Fonda welcomed the crew of Easy Rider to the first morning of production. As recounted in Peter Biskind’s 1998 study Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, the moviemaking process proved–at its best–to be rocky and unstable. Fighting against Hopper’s overblown ego, disputes over a finalized script, consistent substance abuse on the set and rampant financial troubles, the production suffered its way to completion with the filming of the now-famous graveyard sequence. Despite production woes, however, the movie launched the careers of Hopper, Fonda and most notably Jack Nicholson, whose portrayal as idealist George Hanson garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Factoid: Easy Rider became a new American classic upon its release–proving to Hollywood that studios didn’t have to finance big-budget extravaganzas, but instead favor those with artistic direction and appeal. The movie was also noted for a soundtrack that featured only rock music–a move never before seen in cinema.