Easy Rider

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the theatrical release of the counterculture classic “Easy Rider,” parts of which were set in New Orleans and south Louisiana.

The movie is directed by Dennis Hopper, who co-starred with Peter Fonda (who also produced) and newcomer Jack Nicholson. Hopper, Fonda and Terry Southern wrote the film about two bikers, Wyatt (played by Fonda) and Billy (played by Hopper) making a motorcycle trip — and several drug-induced trips — across the country from Los Angeles to New Orleans to experience Mardi Gras and its freewheeling spirit.

The actors went largely unnoticed when they shot scenes here during Mardi Gras 1968 and at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 on Basin Street. There, they filmed an infamous acid-trip scene that includes Fonda’s character conversing with a statue on the tomb of the Italian Mutual Benevolent Society.

“Easy Rider” was a critical and box office success, becoming the third-highest grossing movie of the year. Nicholson was nominated for an Academy Award for his role and the film was nominated for Best Original Screenplay.