Title: EASY RIDERYear of Release: 1969
Director: Dennis Hopper
Genre: Adventure, Drama
Within a film history context: Films which have bikers as central characters can be found from the earliest days of cinema. One of the most notable was Mabel Norman and Mack Sennett's silent MABEL AT THE WHEEL (1914). Here, Charles Chaplin offers Mabel Normand a ride on his motorcycle in this zany comedy studded with other comics such as Chester Conklin, and co-director Mack Sennett. Another comedy was SHERLOCK JR. (1924), both starring and directed by Buster Keaton. It is noteworthy for a remarkable scene where Mr Keaton rides his motorcycle over a collapsing bridge, and surpasses many other obstacles. A film with larger scope given to a motorcycle rider protagonist was Jack Lee's ONCE A JOLLY SWAGMAN (1949). In this movie, a man's passion for motorbike racing causes issues in his marriage, with Dirk Bogarde in the lead part of the professional motorbike racer. Similarly THE PACE THAT THRILLS (1952), directed by Leon Barsha also featured a biker, with romance and much action included for good measure, with Bill Williams in the lead. One of the most famous of the biker movies was Laszlo Benedek's THE WILD ONE (1953). An excellent showcase for Marlon Brando, it revolved around biker gangs, and their impact on a small town and its residents. In an entirely different vein, exploitation was the name of the game in MOTORCYCLE GANG (1957), directed by Edward L. Cahn. It was one of American International Pictures' films on the theme, with others such as David Bradley's DRAGSTRIP RIOT (1958) also appearing around the same time. The difference between the former, and the latter was that the latter featured familiar faces such as Fay Wray and Connie Stevens in its cast. Into the 1960s came an explosion of biker-themed movies on screen, especially in the second half of the 1960s.
Award-worthy performances in my opinion: Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson.
Overall Grade: B
Link: IMDB Page