Road Trip to Nowhere: Hollywood Encounters the Counterculture (Paperback)
How a new generation of counterculture talent changed the landscape of Hollywood, the film industry, and celebrity culture.
By 1967, the commercial and political impact on Hollywood of the sixties counterculture had become impossible to ignore. The studios were in bad shape, still contending with a generation-long box office slump and struggling to get young people into the habit of going to the movies. Road Trip to Nowhere examines a ten-year span (from 1967 to 1976) rife with uneasy encounters between artists caught up in the counterculture and a corporate establishment still clinging to a studio system on the brink of collapse. Out of this tumultuous period many among the young and talented walked away from celebrity, turning down the best job Hollywood—and America—had on offer: movie star.
Road Trip to Nowhere elaborates a primary-sourced history of movie production culture, examining the lives of a number of talented actors who got wrapped up in the politics and lifestyles of the counterculture. Thoroughly put off by celebrity culture, actors like Dennis Hopper, Christopher Jones, Jean Seberg, and others rejected the aspirational backstory and inevitable material trappings of success, much to the chagrin of the studios and directors who backed them. In Road Trip to Nowhere, film historian Jon Lewis details dramatic encounters on movie sets and in corporate boardrooms, on the job and on the streets, and in doing so offers an entertaining and rigorous historical account of an out-of-touch Hollywood establishment and the counterculture workforce they would never come to understand.
About the Author
Jon Lewis is the University Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at Oregon State University. He is the author of over a dozen books, including Hard-Boiled Hollywood: Crime and Punishment in Postwar Los Angeles.
"A spirited survey of the film industry’s responses to the culture shifts of the 1960s as major studios faltered and movie stars left the spotlight. . . . A study that’s as memorable as it is entertaining."
— Publishers Weekly
"Road Trip to Nowhere differs from other popular histories of the period. . . in refusing to valorize the era. Instead, he shows it for what it was — the bad along with the good — while highlighting some of the stories lost in all the reefer smoke. . . . Road Trip to Nowhere tackles bumpy terrain and does not disappoint — though you may be disappointed by the behavior of some of its major characters."
— Los Angeles Review of Books
"Road Trip to Nowhere is the smartest, most fascinating film book 2022 has brought."
"A unique and seminal contribution to the history of American Cinema, Road Trip to Nowhere: Hollywood Encounters the Counterculture is an impressively researched and meticulous work of deftly crafted scholarship."
— Midwest Book Review
“Beautiful writing, and an essential unpacking of a strange and troubling era.”
— Film Stage
"An excellent starting point for both scholars and general readers interested in Hollywood and its associations with hippiedom."
— Society for U.S. Intellectual History
"Provocative. . . . This meticulously researched, eminently readable book offers a fresh perspective on a critical period in Hollywood history."