The Wild One

  • 1953
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

The first and best biker movie begins as a group of 40 leather-jacketed motorcyclists roar down a lonely country road straight at the camera. The bikers, who call themselves the Black Rebels, invade a legitimate motorcycle race and try to join the competition, but they are soon thrown out by the mass of motorcycle enthusiasts. Before leaving, a gang member...read more

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The first and best biker movie begins as a group of 40 leather-jacketed motorcyclists roar down a lonely country road straight at the camera. The bikers, who call themselves the Black Rebels, invade a legitimate motorcycle race and try to join the competition, but they are soon thrown

out by the mass of motorcycle enthusiasts. Before leaving, a gang member manages to snatch the first-prize trophy and presents it to their leader, Brando. With the trophy strapped to his handlebars, Brando leads his pack of rowdies into the small town of Wrightsville where they drag up and down

the street, forcing an old man to drive his car into a light pole. Many of the bikers pile into the local bar, Bleeker's Cafe, which is owned and operated by the sheriff, Keith. Keith is overwhelmed by the disturbance and does little to calm things down as the bikers drink themselves into

oblivion. Brando's minions amuse themselves by terrorizing the town, while Brando spots a good-looking girl, Murphy, and follows her into the bar. To his surprise he learns that she is Keith's daughter, and he tries to impress her by giving her the stolen trophy. Though she is intrigued by this

strange, somewhat withdrawn, brutish young man, she refuses the gift. More trouble soon thunders into town in the guise of Marvin, a former member of Brando's gang who has left and formed his own pack.

THE WILD ONE was inspired by an incident in 1947 in which a gang of 4,000 motorcyclists took over the small town of Hollister, California, for the Fourth of July weekend and destroyed it. Producer Kramer put together a film that he hoped would illustrate the frustration and alienation felt by a

younger generation, and the result became an anthem for disaffected American youth. Brando's performance enthralled audiences, who became fascinated with his contradictory character. He seemed powerful and brutal, but also demonstrated a caring, vulnerable side that he tried hard to

repress--laying the groundwork for a whole school of moody antiheroes that would include James Dean in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. Even without these virtues, the film would be immortal merely for the legendary exchange in which Murphy asks Brando, "What are you rebelling against?" and he replies,

"What have you got?"

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  • Rating: NR
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