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Hells Angels On Wheels (1967)

Hells Angels On Wheels (1967)

Here's a Hells Angels movie starring both the legendary Sonny Barger and Jack Nicholson - before he became famous. I really wasn't expecting to see Nicholson here! It's an old, somewhat obscure, and not all that impressive movie, but it does have its moments, and most of them involve him.

The plot's as basic as it gets: the gas station attendant Poet (that's Nicholson) joins a Hells Angels posse that stops by his station, and tags along for a wild ride across the country - though he soon learns it's not all sunshine and rainbows. There's a girl too. There are disagreements. There are fights, and there's a lot of bikes. There's not much else.

If it sounds like a messy plot then you listened right, and the fight's aren't much either. The bikes are nice, but there's not much more they do with them than ride around, and they're not always riding.

The one redeeming quality is probably that it feels authentic, both the characters and their surroundings. It doesn't tell any particular story, but it portrays a style of life, and if you're interested in that style of life - as it was in this particular time, then this might be as Sonny Barger himself claimed: the most accurate of the many Hells Angels movies that were made during this time.

As far as I know this is also one of few Hells Angels movies of the era that at least had some 'official involvement', so that's pretty cool. I stumbled upon the title as what I thought was just one of many from a time when Hells Angels started marketing themselves via the big screen, Hollywood saw an opportunity, and biker culture became both more mainstream and more of a thorn in the side of the law, but despite the B-movie style it turns out this might be more than just one of many.

Btw: Adam Roarke plays the leader. Barger comes in for a few cameos, but was otherwise only a consultant for the film. Would've been interesting to see him as the lead role, which I thought he was when I watched it, but maybe there are other titles.

This movie: it's alright, but of much more cultural value than movie value. Worth a watch once, but probably not again.

 rated 2/5: decent

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