Okay, so this isn't quite the edgiest biker film, nor is it even the edgiest film about gang violence that Brando was in, and in the next one, he didn't do anything but sit there and talk with cotton in his mouth. Man, Brando was even awesome in that, so of course he's awesome here, but the film itself, decent though it may be, not so much, for a couple reasons.
There are certain natural shortcomings to this story, some of which are not simply superficial, but problematic, thriving on histrionics and questionable character traits which are hard to buy into, what with a thin progression that, like the characters, cannot be firmly fleshed out in a runtime of not even 80 minutes that leads to expository lapses which don't provide much of a sense of background or motivation to the character concepts and actions.
Many expository holes are gaping enough to fit in aimless spots, for uneven pacing derives from the film taking time out to touch upon filler that, upon really getting aimless, shakes consistency in the focus of the narrative that doesn't have time to waste on inconsequentiality.
A lot of the filler has a certain humor, or at least a lightheartedness that, while enjoyable, betrays the sense of edge, which is already limited by superficialities of the time that are often forgivable as merely undercooked, and would be even more forgivable if they weren't familiar. Just as the uneven sense of edge betrays depths, the conventions betray a certain uniqueness in this influential motorcycle drama, resulting in a certain predictability that is made all the worse when the tropes include contrivances and other subtlety issues.
The storytelling features various forms of theatrics, ranging from melodramatics to something of an overblown atmosphere of drama and tension, and consistently reflecting subtlety shortcomings, some of which simply feel lazy, while others feel overblown as a reflection of ambition which stresses the natural shortcomings, and is contradicted by the lazy subtlety mishaps, and by the aforementioned issues in pacing, consistency and predictability.
In terms of quantity, there actually aren't too many issues, and when it comes to the severity of the missteps, well, they stand to cut deeper, but the natural shortcomings that derive from a thin story, brief runtime and superficial time go stressed enough by problematic pacing and consistency in subtlety to render the final product underwhelming.
With the impact taken out of account, this film isn't even memorable, but while it occupies your time, it holds your attention, because as inconsequential as this drama is in so many ways, it engages, even in concept. Though mishandled, and driven by histrionics and thinness, this film's subject matter remains interesting, with intriguing themes regarding the humanity of troubled youths of the '50s backing a somewhat promising tale about the shenanigans and affairs of a bike gang and its leader, especially when it comes to matters of the heart and danger.
If all else fails, Benedek always delivers on entertainment value, through tight pacing that does not make the film feel break-neck in its covering a brief runtime, yet is lively enough to always be fairly fun, when backed by some smart heights in scripting.
John Paxton's and Ben Maddow's script is uneven, and superficial in its exposition and subtlety, but not too contrived, being particularly believable in slang which marks heights in examples of how dialogue is usually not carried away to the point of being cloyingly obvious, and is colorful enough to be memorable, not unlike a couple of memorable set pieces and moments of comic relief, many of both of which have become dated, if they weren't silly to begin with, but remain fun.
As for the deeper touches, they suffer from subtlety issues, as well as from superficialities of the time and of a brief runtime that limits exposition, though not as much as I feared, because even though background and motivations are lacking, a number of characters feel distinguished, if not nuanced enough to sell adequately, especially with worthy performances at their backs. A number of performances have also become dated, but most all are charming at the very least, and when it comes to weightier performances, they're commendable for the time, with leading man Marlon Brando particularly standing out by delivering a trademark charisma and rather commanding presence which embodies his tough character iconically, and intensely, until moving humanity is brought into play, thus making the film memorable for its compelling lead, if nothing else.
There are touching moments in the storytelling, but on the whole, it's charm and entertainment value that get this film by, matched by a number of natural and consequential shortcomings, though not to where you can't have some fun, through all of the inconsequentiality.
Cameron J Super Reviewer. Oct 23, The characters and the story itself do not have much depth. However, the very same plainness The Wild One possesses and the dashing Marlon Brando make the film quite charming.
Maymay A Super Reviewer. Jan 07, A young and angry Marlon Brando lights up the screen as an aimless biker gang leader rebelling against whatever he can find in this cult classic from the 50s.
Johnny is the leader of the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club, and he spends most of his time just cruising around and raising hell. Things start to change when he and his crew invade a small, sleepy California town and he meets a cute young lady who might just be what he needs to change his ways. That all changes when he finds out that her dad is the local cop. Not only that, but he's also got to deal with the intolerance of the townspeople, and a rival gang leader named Chino, played by the always cool Lee Marvin.
I liked this one. I liked it maybe even more than Rebel Without A Cause. This is certainly not as overrated or heavy handed as that one. It's a nice existential drama, and for a B movie, it's shot and executed far better than it has a right to be. Share your review so everyone else can enjoy it too. Your review was sent successfully and is now waiting for our staff to publish it.
Reviews Updating Results. Verified Reviewer. What is a Verified Reviewer. A Verified Reviewer is a shopper who has confirmed an email address, or connected a social network with Yotpo, providing an added level of transparency and trust. Was this review helpful? Britches Rest of cast listed alphabetically: Wally Albright Cyclist uncredited Chris Alcaide Deputy uncredited Don Anderson Stinger uncredited Robert Anderson Policeman uncredited Robert Bice Wilson uncredited Nicky Blair One of Chino's Boys uncredited Norman Budd One of Chino's Boys uncredited Timothy Carey Chino's Boy 1 uncredited Fred Carson Cyclist uncredited Charles Cirillo Bee Bop uncredited Bill Clark Cyclist uncredited Keith Clarke One year older and wiser too, Happy Birthday, to you!
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