Hell’s Belles (1969)

HellsBellesPoster2014This is the movie where Jeremy Slate finally puts it all together! At last, Jeremy Slate unleashed and untamed, riding roughshod all over the desert southwest in search of his stolen motorbike, a taciturn biker-cowboy who lives by his own code! And who loves on his own terms!

The promise he showed in the laughable Hell’s Angels propaganda movie, Hell’s Angels ’69 comes to fruition with his steady and steely performance in Hell’s Belles as he’s freed of his dopey sidekick Tom Stern as well as the even dopier story from that flimsy film.

If ever there was a demonstration that there is beauty in simplicity, then Hell’s Belles is it. While Tom Stern gave himself a brain hernia coming up with the ridiculous concept of using the Hell’s Angels as a way to help rob Caesar’s Palace in Hell’s Angels ’69, Hell’s Belles merely remakes the old Jimmy Stewart flick, Winchester ’73, but with motorcycles.

Hell’s Belles was one of those movies that even as I was thinking about how it wasn’t about all that much, I was enjoying quite a bit. The entire movie is just about this guy (Dan) chasing this biker gang through the desert in an effort to recover a motorcycle he won in a race that they stole from him.

Much of the movie consisted of Dan standing on top of rocky hills yelling down at the gang to give his bike back to him, while the leader of the gang (Tampa) yelled that he wouldn’t give it back.

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Admittedly, that doesn’t sound like anything you could feel comfortable recommending, since it felt more like a couple of kids not wanting to share rather than brutal bikers battling over bodacious babes (which is what the title and movie poster would have you believe), but aided by Jeremy Slate’s unwavering conviction that he would have that bike no matter what as well Les Baxter’s catchy score, the movie whips up a good wad of entertainment out of these unremarkable ingredients.

Dan wins a race and first prize is a really sweet ride (and a medal) that Dan intends to sell to help pay off the note on his ranch. One of the guys he beats in the race though wants the bike for himself and after lowballing Dan, arranges to steal Dan’s bike by playing possum in the middle of the road one night.

Dan traces the guy and his bike to another location, but the bike has been stolen again, this time by Tampa and his biker gang. Dan doesn’t much care who stole it because he’s not ending this movie until he gets it back, but Tampa explains that Dan has “swapped” the stolen bike for Tampa’s old bike as well as Tampa’s old girlfriend, Cathy.

I don’t know anything about motorcycles and I know even less about women, but after getting a gander at Cathy, if I was Dan, this movie would have been finished right then. Cathy is played by Jocelyn Lane, a babe so hot that in real life she went and got herself hitched to a Spanish prince and any time this movie threatens to slow down, there she is decked out in her knee-high go go boots and black leather mini skirt to kickstart things!

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Cathy is one of those motorcycle mamas who’s fallen out of favor with her man because of some misunderstanding where she tried to make her man jealous by pretending to fool around with another member of the gang and then he got jealous and ditched her. Hindsight being what it is, I would normally say that the plan backfired, but it actually seemed to work out exactly as she set it up, so I’m not sure what to make of that whole affair.

Tampa shows us the same lack of brains as Cathy when he dumps her for an older, less attractive gal named Cherry. Cherry is the sort of girl who complains when Tampa pays more attention to his stolen bike than to her. What is wrong with that Mama? Doesn’t she know that us cycle savages have only one love in our life and that’s our wheels, man!

Like Hell’s Angels ’69, I found myself wondering how it was that the vast stretches of desert involved were so small that these guys could be tracked without any problems. Cowboy Dan explains to Cathy that this part of the desert is his stomping grounds and he knows every inch of it, which is great for navigating here and there, but how would that tell him where these people are hiding out at?

I suppose if he knows where they are headed that maybe he knows the route they would take, but at some point you would think that Tampa and his gang would realize this (from the nightly attacks by Cowboy Dan on their camp if by nothing else) and change their plans.

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Tampa’s strategy is limited to schemes involving cartoon-like traps like setting a snare and uh, um, trying to climb a couple of hills. To be fair, Cowboy Dan’s traps are also cartoonish, involving starting avalanches on Tampa’s gang, and stringing a rope between two trees to knock guys off their bikes.

Fans of movies where the couple starts out hating each other and then ends up liking each other will find a little something for them as well as fans of movies where guys fall into caves of rattlesnakes, blow up a gas station, and fight each other with chains while riding their motorcycles in a final, apocalyptic showdown that can only end when one guy takes “the Last Ride.”

It’s not a particularly rough movie, the biker element isn’t that important, and the whole business of biker chicks is barely touched upon (other than Cathy hanging out with Dan), but as long as you aren’t put off by the false advertising of the movie, it’s a well photographed effort that makes good use of its locations and Jocelyn Lane and parlays it all into some above average kicks.

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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