July 10, 2004

The Wild Angels

What's with all the swastikas? I don't associate the Hell's Angels with Nazism. But then again this is a Roger Corman film. It's easy to forget that since it stars Peter Fonda, Nancy Sinatra, Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd.

There are strangely macabre aspects to this story, which aren't so strange if you remember that Corman is around. The last scene is Fonda filling in a grave. There is a visit to a freelance undertaker, and other strange things are done with a corpse.

This 1966 film is Peter's first, and he is cast in the unlikely role of Blues, leader of a pack of Hell's Angels. He couldn't have been more than 21, and no gang has a leader that young, nor as skinny as he was at the time. Bruce Dern as The Loser is pretty good though. Reportedly Bruce had Diane Ladd pregnant with daughter Laura during this filming.

These angels aren't big on dialog and they are definitely not in the intellectual biker class. I was reminded of those old Japanese Godzilla movies. There aren't many sentences with more than four words.

Easy Rider was obviously a pretty natural segue from this for Peter. He already knew how to ride the bike when he got to Taos. But it's hard to believe that the same guy did The Hired Hand.

The Wild Angels is an unavoidably interesting movie in spite of its simplistic approach. There is a big statement against Christianity. There is also a scene early on where some very blatant racist comments are made to some Hispanics. Frankly my favorite line was Fonda stepping up and saying, "Okay which one of you taco-benders stole an angel's bike?" This was more creative than Loser's use of the term "beaners."

The film at least attempts valiantly to show the angels, both as humans and as beasts. It misses a little on the human side. We caught this on Flix.

Posted by Wayne at July 10, 2004 12:59 AM
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