An inspired Jack Nicholson leads this cult dramedy as Bobby Dupea, a wandering malcontent who turns his back on the middle classes. An insightful and superbly crafted character study, it earned Oscar nominations for Nicholson, Karen Black (as a waitress obsessed with Tammy Wynette), director Bob Rafelson and writer Carol Eastman (under her pseudonym Adrien Joyce). In a slice of Americana stuffed with moments to savour, Jack's "chicken salad" speech in a dustbowl diner is now the stuff of legend.
This cult study of American alienation - one of the few US films to explore the question of class distinctions - contains a brilliant performance by Jack Nicholson as the self-tormenting misfit drifter who's in flight from middle-class rectitude and responsibility.
'I move around a lot,' he tells his paralysed father, 'not because I'm looking for anything but to get away from things that go bad if I stay.'
Not always comfortable to watch and full of suppressed (and sometimes unsuppressed) rage, the movie nonetheless earned Academy Award nominations for Best Film, Screenplay, Actor and Actress.
It also has its moments of high good humour, notably in a scene of escalating hysteria when Nicholson goes to a diner and tries to order an item not on the menu.