The Wild Angels Peter Fonda plays ‘Heavenly Blues’, the leader of the Angels, a motorcycle gang from San Pedro, California; Bruce Dern plays ‘Loser’, his best pal. When they both botch their attempt to retrieve Loser’s stolen bike, Loser ends up in the hospital. When the Angels bust him out, he dies, and they bury him. Nancy Sinatra plays Mike, Blues’ “old lady” and Diane Ladd plays Loser’s wife (Dern’s real-life wife at the time). The plot is basically a buildup to the last half-hour of the film in which Loser’s funeral becomes another wild party.
Wild Angels is a landmark biker film, the first one of it’s kind that dealt with such a brutal form of biker gang. This film started a cycle of biker films back in 1966, each one trying to outdo its predecessor in sheer volume of violence, sex and of course theater grosses, (Al Adamson doing it quite nicely I thought with Satan’s Sadists).
When released initially it was banned in Denmark of all places, known for being one of the most liberated countries in the world. The Film was released in various running times, most edited to take out some of the more violent, racy bits.
Bikers in this film and many to follow would never again be looked as good guys until ‘Easy Rider’ many years later.
A Roger Corman Masterpiece
Roger Corman shocked Hollywood and the world with his controversial telling of the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Gang. But, in telling the story, Corman depicts the generation gap of the 1960s and the feeling of hopelessness by the youth of middle-America as the war in Viet-Nam raged in the background.
Peter Fonda equals his role in Easy Rider. He plays Heavenly Blues the leader of the Angels. He plays it cold and emotionless-a true leader void of feeling, but hungry for power. Nancy Sinatra gives her finest performance as his devoted girl-friend, still clinging to the old fashion idea of Love, yet willing to do “anything” to keep her man. It’s in casting Fonda and Sinatra in the lead roles that Corman gives his movie the impact it richly deserves. They represented the youth of the 1960’s rebelling against their parents concepts of love, life, and morality. The supporting cast includes fine performances by Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd, Micheal J. Pollard, and Gayle Hunnicutt.
Corman has created a political film which demonstrates that even “Freedom” has its price.And just what price someone is willing to pay, is up to them. An outstanding film. 10 out of 10.
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