Saturday, June 4, 2011

CORMANIA 2011 #6 - The Wild Angels

9.44pm - Wild Angels (1966)
Our King's role: Director and producer
Cast: Peter Fonda (EASY RIDER), Nancy Sinatra (SPEEDWAY), Bruce Dern (SILENT RUNNING), Diane Ladd (WILD AT HEART)

Plot: Heavenly Blues (Fonda) is leader of the San Pedro, California chaper of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang. He brings his buddy Loser (Dern) back into the fold from an honest life, but a run-in with the heat ends up going not so groovy, and Loser winds up in hospital (sorry, don't know any 60s slang for that). The Wild Angels spring him, but Loser ends up dying. His funeral turns into a "party", in which a church is trashed, a preacher beaten up and Loser's woman (Ladd) raped. Even when they take him to be buried it turns into a big brawl between bikers and townsfolk.

- Brief Dick Miller sighting in the first scene.
- Even tough biker guys liked to shake their tailfeathers in the swinging 60s.
- Heavenly Blues don't like no hard drugs, ya dig?
- Diane Ladd was quite attractive in her younger days. I only know her from David Lynch's Wild at Heart, when she plays a crazy old bat.
- Ladd plays the "old lady" of her real-life hubby, Bruce Dern.
- I have to wonder what Old Blue Eyes thought about his daughter Nancy appearing in a movie about long-haired nogoodniks.
- This movie came out the same year as Nancy's hit song These Boots Are Made For Walking.
- Nazi flag draped coffin. Classy.
- Blues' famous speech during the funeral: "We wanna be free to do what we wanna do. We wanna be free to ride our machines without being hassled by the man. And we wanna get loaded. And we wanna have a good time. That's what we're gonna do".
- You know it's a real party in the 60s when they bust out the bongo music.

Overall thoughts: Those who think of Roger Corman as a low-budget director who mainly followed the latest fads can take a look at Wild Angels to see the great man actually starting a trend. This is the first biker flick, three years before Easy Rider. It started the counter-culture fad, simple as that. Does that mean it's a good movie? Well, no. It's all a bit pointless really, with no real narrative thread. Just a bunch of bikers doing rebellious stuff. The acting is pretty great, led by a brooding performance by Fonda, but there's just not a lot of meat in this sandwich.

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