Top critical review
DID THIS FILM GIVE RISE TO THE BRITISH ROCKER?
on 2 July 2013
A slim, youthful, mean, moody, menacing and muttering Brando starred in this black and white classic from 1953, made when he was in his late twenties, and followed up with yet another early Brando classic 'On the Waterfront' -- the so-called method acting at its best. A similarly rebellious film 'Blackboard Jungle', not involving motor cycles, but set in a downtown American school in which Bill Haley's recording of 'Rock Around the Clock' kicked off the 'new' a age of music created just for teenagers -- an instant signal to wreck and rebel. That starred 'Daddy-o' Glenn Ford as a teacher attempting to calm a class of riotous disruptive High School guys. That also helped the cause along. Other masterpieces in similar vein led to both Brando and James Dean becoming the lead cult figures in the post-war youth v. adult protest movement. The motor cycle alone has a definite bad image problem, and 'The Wild One' is one of a few films set around gangs of motor cyclists, sometimes violent, but always bent on speed and hell raising, helped to propel that along. Perhaps it doesn't outshine the much later epic 'Easy Rider' though, and that surely is the best biker's film ever, but set in an entirely different era. A further biker's film, 'The Leather Boys', this time a 1960s British creation set around a bunch of coffee bar kid racers, was such a limp effort to say the most. (Who'd 'race' to Scotland on an Ariel Arrow? Absolutely clueless!). Then there was the memorable classic scene set in the WW2 epic 'The Great Escape', which involved Steve McQueen's famous chase and 40' leap over a barbed wire fence in an effort break out from life in a PoW camp on a bike he'd 'stolen' from the Germans -- a British Triumph Bonneville I might add, complete with rear suspension too, all in 1942! Actually a stunt man called Bud Ekins performed the feat for him, but let's not spoil it for talented biker McQueen. It's interesting to note, you biker fans, that Brando also uses a British built Triumph in this film, albeit a customized export version complete with cow horn bars, and not the low down clip ons much preferred by the UK rockers. Why not a Harley as you might expect? Well, with the Dean and Brando cult so admired over here, could I be right in thinking that their 'cool' attitude, complete with shades, that black leather jacket collar eternally raised, the use of knee length boots, white T-shirts and skin tight Levi jeans, could that look somehow have influenced the rise of the British rocker and coffee bar racer during the late 50s? Well, that's my theory anyway. This classic gem is definitely one for bikers, both young and more mature alike. Yes, I suppose I could say its 'ACE' -- it was considered to be so moody and magnificent in its day, but it's now become a very dated cult, and by today's standards its so corny, particularly the unconvincing back projection in some of the gang's biking scenes where some riders lean the opposite to go round the same corner!