Biker movies. People either love ’em or hate ’em, and rarely is there any middle ground.
Me, I love ’em.
Some people love biker movies because they’re about freedom, some because they’re about mayhem. Me, I love ’em because they’re about freedom and mayhem.
The following list is limited to films that feature real motorcycles: hogs, choppers, chrome horses. Unfortunately, this disqualifies 1979’s mod epic Quadropenia * , even though scooters are cool in their way, and Russ Meyer’s 1965 Motor Psycho (that guy’s bike is just pathetic).
Here now, in ascending order, are The Greatest Biker Movies Ever Made:
The Losers (aka Nam’s Angels) (1970): A biker gang called the Devil’s Advocates is recruited by the CIA to execute a daring rescue behind enemy lines in Cambodia. I kid you not. After customizing their Yamahas into combat-ready death machines, the gang roars into action on this unlikely suicide mission. Heavy casualties ensue. With biker movie stalwarts William Smith and Adam Roarke, co-starring African-American character actor Bernie Hamilton (Captain Dobey on «Starsky & Hutch»).
Psychomania * (aka The Death Wheelers) (1973) and Ghost Rider * (2007): Here are a couple of movies that combine motorcycles with the supernatural. In Psychomania, Nicky Henson is the leader of a British biker gang called the Living Dead who attain immortality through ritual suicide, with appropriately ghoulish results; In the film adaptation of Marvel Comics’ Ghost Rider, Nicolas Cage stars as motorcycle daredevil Johnny Blaze, who is transformed into the title character to do battle with Big Evil. Co-starring biker movie icon Peter Fonda.
The Born Losers * (1967): Writer-director-star Tom Laughlin originated the character of Billy Jack in this tale of a Native American Viet Nam vet who brings vigilante justice to a gang of nasty bikers led by the despicable Jeremy Slate, after the gang has raped several local girls. The film’s success led to the even greater success of 1971’s Billy Jack. With Jane Russell. Now available as part of The Complete Billy Jack Collection from Image Entertainment.
The Savage Seven * (1968): Chosen by Quentin Tarantino to open his 1998 «QT Fest» in Austin, The Savage Seven was directed by Richard Rush (The Stunt Man) and produced by Dick Clark, the team behind the hippie epic Psych-Out. The film is a modern day Western that pits bikers rather than cowboys against the Indians, while the real bad guys are the businessmen who play both ends against the middle. With Adam Roarke, Robert Walker Jr., Larry Bishop (who would go on to write and direct his biker magnum opus, Hell Ride *, 40 years later), and Duane Eddy.
Electra Glide in Blue * (1973) and Beyond the Law * (1992): Here are two motorcycle movies where the main characters are cops. Electra Glide in Blue, directed by music producer James William Guercio, concerns a motorcycle cop, played by alleged wife-killer Robert Blake, who sets out to solve a murder, but doesn’t like what he finds. Great bike, and well-done action sequences. With Billy Green Bush, Mitchell Ryan, and Jeannine Riley. Beyond the Law is the fact-based story of Dan Saxon, played with coked-up intensity by Charlie Sheen, who goes undercover to infiltrate an outlaw biker gang, the Jackals. Written and directed by Larry Ferguson, with Michael Madsen as the bad guy, Linda Fiorentino, and Rip Torn.
Devil’s Angels (1967): After the success of Wild Angels, American International Pictures churned out a series of biker movies, of which this was one of the first, starring John Cassavetes, Beverly Adams, Mimsy Farmer, and Buck Kartalian (whom you may recall from the film Please Don’t Eat My Mother) as «Funky.» Written by the great Charles B. Griffith (Little Shop of Horrors, A Bucket of Blood), the movie concerns the wacky misadventures of the Skulls motorcycle gang, and their world-weary leader, Cody. The Skulls like to blow off steam by getting loaded, pouring beer over one another’s heads, and outraging the local citizenry. After accidentally running down an unlucky square, the gang splits the scene for greener pastures. Cassavetes is excellent in the role, oozing ironic detachment and old school cool. Mimsy Farmer is lovely as ever, a mix of innocence and curiosity, and inevitably, the object of biker brutality.
Hell’s Angels on Wheels * (1969). Jack Nicholson stars in this cycle opera from director Richard Rush, with cinematography by László Kovács, as a newly initiated member of the Angels who falls for the neurotic biker mama of chapter president Adam Roarke. Mayhem inevitably ensues. Featuring members of the Oakland chapter of Hell’s Angels. Like the lesser biker flick The Rebel Rousers, this was originally produced in 1967, shelved, then released after Nicholson’s success in Easy Rider.
On Any Sunday * (1972): Not your standard biker flick, in that it’s not about outlaw motorcycle clubs wreaking havoc, but rather a beautifully photographed, completely affectionate documentary about the joy of riding. Director Bruce Brown (The Endless Summer) narrates in his trademark laid-back style, while American Motorcycling Association pro Mert Lawwill, stunt rider Malcolm Smith, and star/producer Steve McQueen show how much fun these machines can be. Followed by On Any Sunday II (1981).
The Glory Stompers (1968): Dennis Hopper stars as Chino, the perpetually stoned leader of the Black Souls Motorcycle Club, who kidnaps a pretty young thing (Chris Noel) after laying a savage beat-down on her boyfriend (Jody McCrea). Hopper’s performance is not to be missed, and the dialogue is priceless: «Here’s the situation, baby. Like we accidentally snuffed out your old man. Now the only way out for me and my people is to either snuff you out, or to sell you, to some high-class Mexican friends of ours. Now, being good people, we decided to sell you.» With Casey Kasem and Jock Mahoney.
The Wild Angels * (1966): Roger Corman kick-started a whole new cycle of chopper movies with this nihilistic tale of an outlaw biker gang led by Peter Fonda as «Heavenly Blues» («We wanna be free! Free to ride our machines without being hassled by the man! And we wanna get loaded!»). When «Loser,» a gang member played by Bruce Dern, get shot by the cops, the Angels break him out of the hospital, leading to a hastily arranged biker funeral after he dies from his wounds and lack of medical attention. Featuring Nancy Sinatra as «Mike,» and a great fuzz guitar score by Davie Allan & the Arrows. The Hell’s Angels sued Corman and AIP for defamation of character.
The Wild One * (1953): The original biker movie stars Marlon Brando as Johnny Strabler, the leader of the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club. A girl asks him, «What are you rebelling against, Johnny?» To which he replies, «Whaddya got?» Although looking a little pudgier than he had in previous films, Brando’s still the epitome of cool, the original rebel without a cause. Based in part on real incidents much tamer than those portrayed in the movie. With Lee Marvin as Johnny’s even more badass rival. Directed by Laslo Benedek.
Easy Rider * (1969): More than just another biker movie, Easy Rider was a cultural phenomenon. Peter Fonda produced and stars as «Captain America,» while director Dennis Hopper plays his sidekick Billy. After selling a large quantity of cocaine to Phil Spector, the two head off in search of America. Unfortunately for them, they find it. Jack Nicholson was nominated for an Academy Award for his breakthrough role as George Hanson, a small-town Southern lawyer who catches a ride with the two bikers, and proceeds to steal the show. With a screenplay by the great Terry Southern (Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb), and a killer soundtrack featuring Steppenwolf, the Byrds, and The Band, among others.
Статья была опубликована в газете «Examiner», город Остин, США, 10 марта 2010 г. Это десятка лучших байкерских фильмов по мнению JM Dobies, обозревателя и кинокритика.
А какие фильмы вы считаете лучшими? Ответы присылайте на firstname.lastname@example.org
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* Эти и другие фильмы есть в моей коллекции