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HWY: An American Pastoral

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Director  Paul Ferrara
Initial release  October 20, 1969
Country  United States
7/10 IMDb

Genre  Drama
Producer  Jim Morrison
Language  English
HWY: An American Pastoral movie poster
Cast  Jim Morrison
Writer  Paul Ferrara, Babe Hill, Frank Lisciandro, Jim Morrison
Screenplay  Jim Morrison, Paul Ferrara, Babe Hill, Frank Lisciandro
Similar movies  The Doors: When Youre Strange (2009)

Hwy an american pastoral hd

HWY: An American Pastoral is a film by Jim Morrison, Frank Lisciandro, Paul Ferrara, and Babe Hill and stars Morrison as a hitchhiker. It is a 50-minute experimental film in Direct Cinema style. It was shot during the spring and summer of 1969 in the Mojave Desert and in Los Angeles.


HWY: An American Pastoral movie scenes

In the informal 1971 interview Morrison gave to Ben Fong Torres, Morrison states the film "...was more of an exercise for me and a warm-up for something bigger."

HWY: An American Pastoral HWY An American Pastoral 1969

Apart from select excerpts used in the 2009 documentary When You're Strange, The complete 35mm, movie quality film, has yet to be released commercially.

HWY: An American Pastoral HWY An American Pastoral Influx

Hwy an american pastoral part 1 1969


HWY: An American Pastoral HWY An American Pastoral Part 1 1969 YouTube

The opening sequence shows the hitchhiker (Jim Morrison) coming out of a pond, and putting his clothes on over whatever he is already wearing. He proceeds to walk up the mountain from the pond. He starts walking down the highway and a voice-over of Morrison talks about his incident with dead Indians as a child. He is shown emerging from a car stuck in the sand. He successfully tries to pull a car over. The next sequence shows landscape and then turns to a clip of the hitchhiker looking for a book with the car parked outside a gas station (visible through the window). The hitchhiker is shown back on the highway together with two other people and a police officer. He gets into the car and drives off. He looks for directions on a map at night. The cars are shown driving into the sunset. Finally, the hitchhiker makes a phone call to American poet Michael McClure and explains with disimpassioned voice why the original driver was not with him for much of the journey. The hitchhiker killed him. The final shots show the hitchhiker at The Whiskey A Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.

Screenplay, production and public screening

HWY: An American Pastoral HWY An American Pastoral Part 2 1969 YouTube

The original, barely structured HWY screenplay, published in 1990, contained many differences to the actual 1969 film version. The film was based on Morrison's experiences as a hitchhiker during his student days. As a college student Morrison had regularly been commuting as a hitchhiker from Tallahassee 280 miles to meet his then girlfriend Mary Werbelow in Clearwater. Morrison financed the low-budget film project through his company “HiWay Productions”. The production of HWY was supported by Morrison's friends Paul Ferrara, Frank Lisciandro and Babe Hill. The soundtrack was produced by composer Fred Myrow; with additional material from ethnic and world music recordings.

HWY: An American Pastoral HWY An American Pastoral Part Two The Hitchiker YouTube

Parts of the movie were meant to be used for fundraising purposes in order to complete the whole project. As soon as October 1969 the film story was outpaced, though, by the Tate-Labianca murders which were carried out by members of the Manson Family in Los Angeles and shattered the American public. Morrison showed HWY during his second stay in Paris in early 1971. The film was publicly shown only once in Vancouver in 1970 and again in Paris in 1993. An audio sequence from the film was published on The Doors' spoken word album An American Prayer in 1978.


HWY: An American Pastoral Jim Morrisons HWY An American Pastoral

It has been suggested that the inspiration for the Protagonist in the film, played by Morrison, with the script name 'Billy' was inspired by the very real Hitchhiker serial killer Billy Cook who murdered six people on a 22-day rampage between Missouri and California in 1950–51.

When You're Strange

In 2009, restored and re-mastered excerpts from "HWY" were featured in Tom DiCillos documentary When You're Strange. However, the complete film was not included in the Special Features on the When You're Strange DVD, and there have been no further announcements regarding a DVD release for the film. Bootleg copies of the film (with a visible timecode at the bottom of the screen) can be found on the internet.

Production history

In his 2007 book, Flash of Eden, co-director Paul Ferrara details Jim Morrison's originally grander over-arching vision for the film, anecdotes from the days shooting and finally his eventual satisfaction with the 'unfinished' work. Similarly, Paul Ferrara's YouTube channel hosts behind the scenes footage of the making of The Hitchhiker, which was the working title for what would later become HWY, together with a video described as Jim Morrison/"HWY" (directors cut) which includes an opening crawl of text that describes the historical context during which the film was shot.

The film was shot on a 35mm, Arriflex camera.

A list of filming locations are available.


The film's music credits are given to Fred Myrow and sound engineer Bruce Botnick.


Paul & Georgia Ferrara - Bald Mountain.


  • Jim Morrison: The Hitchhiker (An American Pastoral). In: The American Night. The Writings of Jim Morrison. Viking, London 1990, p. 69–82.
  • References

    HWY: An American Pastoral Wikipedia
    HWY: An American Pastoral IMDb HWY: An American Pastoral