The Celluloid Pantry: Mad-as-Hell Toast and Five Easy Pieces (1970)

Maybe it’s just the Canadian in me , but I go to great lengths to bend myself around a menu. I’ll ask discreet questions about chicken stock in “vegetarian” soup, or ham hocks in collard greens, but when it comes time to order, I stick to what I see in print.

That said, there’s nothing like the vicarious thrill of a good movie. Six years before Peter Finch was “mad as hell” in Network, Jack Nicholson was giving new meaning to ordering toast in Five Easy Pieces (1970).

“You make sandwiches, don't you? ...You've got bread and a toaster of some kind?” Doesn’t matter, plain toast isn’t on the menu. The waitress (Lorna Thayer) points to where it says “no substitutions,” but Bobby Dupea’s (Jack Nicholson) heart is set.

Bobby: OK, I'll make it as easy for you as I can. I'd like an omelet, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of coffee.

Waitress: A number two, chicken-sal-san, hold the butter, the lettuce and the mayonnaise. And a cup of coffee. Anything else?

Bobby: Yeah. Now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven't broken any rules.

Waitress: (her face says “oh yeah?”) You want me to hold the chicken, huh?

Bobby: I want you to hold it between your knees.

- Nora