The Wild Angels (1966)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biker Film, Road Movie  |   Release Date - Jul 20, 1966 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 83 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Mark Deming

Roger Corman didn't invent the biker movie (The Wild One blazed the trail in 1954), but, with The Wild Angels, he gave it a new lease on life. Peter Fonda and Nancy Sinatra stand out like sore thumbs among the real-life Hell's Angels hired to give the film its grubby atmosphere, but Fonda's studied cool nicely contrasts with the aggressive surliness of the rest of the male cast -- and enough rock bands have sampled Fonda's "We wanna be free to ride our bikes and not get hassled by the man!" speech to turn it into a classic moment in sleaze-movie history. The film's beer-swilling, pot-smoking, and unfocused brawling may have become screen clich├ęs in record time, but they were newer and more shocking in 1966, and the film's rough, unpolished visual style gives it a ring of truth missing from most of the films that followed in its wake. Add Davie Allen and the Arrows's classic theme song, which sent a generation of garage rockers scurrying for fuzz boxes, and you get perhaps the definitive 1960s biker flick. The film also offers the curiosity factor of knowing that Diane Ladd was pregnant with Laura Dern during filming.