Friday, December 4, 2009

1966 - THE WILD ANGELS, Roger Corman's well made biker film

Roger Corman's anti-establishment film is about sticking it's middle finger up at southern California society for 90 minutes or it's a metaphor of what happens when the id is unleashed.  Whatever it is, this is a very well directed and photographed film.


Anti heroes to the nth degree, the Hell's Angels aren't above picking a fight with a group of Hispanics just to show how racist they are or having an all out orgy during a church funeral.  The rampant display of Nazi symbols and memorabilia they wear throughout the film contributes to their scary anti everything persona.


With the exception of Bruce Dern who's  dead for half of the film, the acting is not so hot.   Peter Fonda and Nancy Sinatra are probably a little to clean cut to be hanging out with this bunch but at least Fonda's got the snear down and the image of him and Sinatra riding down the road is iconic.  He summons up the film's theme in his speech at Bruce Dern's funeral:

"We want to be free! We want to be free to do what we want to do! We want to be free to ride. And we want to be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man. And we want to get loaded. And we want to have a good time! And that’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna have a good time. We’re gonna have a party."

The funeral orgy in the northern California church is something to see, Corman shoots it close with a hand held camera in wide screen.  It gives the whole scene an interesting unsettling effect.   Another bizarre scene has Fonda caressing his bike while on the soundtrack you can hear two cats screwing.

From the beginning of the film with Fonda riding his bike past a series of ugly oil well pumps covering the California landscape to the existential ending, this is possibly one of the best films made about the 1960's. 

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