The Wild One
Director: Laszlo Benedek
Nothing like a good biker flick to get the adrenaline flowing. The dregs of society that come to be known as the 1-percenters a decade later are quite aware on how to wreak havoc, drink beer, and piss off the locals with the greatest of ease. And in this story, they diss authority like the best of 'em, but this movie has heart, man! While a bit cheeky at times in that Rebel Without a Cause vein, definitely a worthwhile look.
The hooligans are set adrift in society, looking to have a good time with no consequence. As reviled and despised as they are, the small towns they ride into still accept them on at least a base level for the breath of fresh air and excitement they bring, if not just to give them something to talk about afterwards. But the biker gang led by Jimmy is little more than that, a bunch of hooligans. Only he has some primal sense of chivalry and honor to make sure things stay within limits of acceptance. But even when things start to turn sour, he can't help but stick around because of his fascination for a local girl who wants more out of life than the mundane one she sees ahead.
It's a bit more difficult to put these older films into perspective, with the dated dialogue and somewhat static camerawork. But the overall concept of the flick is still solid, if not a bit hokey, but hey, what do you expect from a flick from '54? Brando does a good job as the somewhat introspective gang leader, out to have a good time on their rides, not really caring to piss off whomever. But when he's placed in a situation that requires him to go beyond the normal limits of his usual behavior, he lashes out in the only way he knows how. But he does try to understand and change, if not just a little bit. Some decent performances by Jimmy (Brando), the local soft-weight sheriff, and Lee Marvin is great as the head of another biker gang that Jimmy used to be a part of. Even has a couple of nicely shot scenes as well.
Great Scene: Jimmy's gang settling down for a spell in the local joint, and talking with the old-timer who's serving them beers.
DVD Notes: Relatively clean fullscreen transfer put out by Columbia/Tri-Star, features the film in Full Screen with a minimal of extras since, well, back then really weren't so big on that shit, and tends to pale in comparison to Brando's other film of the year, called On the Waterfront. Includes subtitles and trailers for both it and On the Waterfront.