GLENWOOD, Ore. – At least 5 customers a week come in with questions about the booth and the movie.
"People come from all over asking, 'Where's the Jack Nicholson booth?'' " says Denny's server Brandy Kaye. "We're expected to know that piece of history. If we don't, we get 'the look.' "
More than 40 years after Jack Nicholson's "Five Easy Pieces" was filmed in a Denny's diner in Glenwood, the booth where the Oscar-winning actor sat remains in demand. After all, according to a local film historian, that scene marked "an iconic moment in the history of cinema."
Scene: Diner on the road to Washington state
Bobby Dupea: "I'd like a plain omelet, no potatoes, tomatoes instead, a cup of coffee and wheat toast."
Server: "No substitutions."
Thus begins, perhaps, the most famous restaurant exchange in movie history.
Bobby Dupea: "What do you mean you don't make side orders of toast? You make sandwiches, don't you?"
Server: "Would you like to talk to the manager?"
Film historian and screenwriting instructor Tom Blank of Eugene calls "the diner scene - an iconic moment in the history of cinema."
It was 40 years ago this month that "Five Easy Pieces" was released, starring Jack Nicholson as the restless drifter Bobby Dupea.
Several parts of the film were shot in Oregon, but why Glenwood? It turns out the production company was southbound on Interstate 5, came around the bend and saw the Denny's Restaurant in Glenwood.
They stopped and talked to the manager. The rest, as they say, is film history.
Server: "You want me to hold the chicken, huh?"
Bobby: "I want you to hold it between your knees."
Why do people still identify with this scene?
"Because it's explosive," says Blank. "It seemed completely original. It had the sense of being improvised, even though it was not."
Blank gives weekly presentations on classic Hollywood films on Tuesday nights at DIVA, the Downtown Initiative For The Visual Arts.
Kaye says college kids often come in to sit in the Denny's booth, order food and re-enact the famous scene.
"The younger generation seems to relate to that movie a lot more," Kaye says, "which is surprising."