If you take away nothing else from this less-than-rousing biker flick, you would do well to remember that in the motorcycle gang, the woman that belongs to you is your “old lady” and the woman that belongs to the whole gang is a “mama.”
Etiquette dictates that you don’t mess with someone else’s “old lady” and that you take turns with the “mama.” Also it appeared that once an old lady’s man croaked, she was then eligible for the position of “mama” and by “eligible,” I mean, all the biker dudes raped her until she attained the coveted “mama” status. None of this really matters to the main story in this film, but the story is so thin, you have to really latch on to everything that goes on to get any mileage out of it.
The movie is about some Hell’s Angels and how their buddy gets killed and they have a big party at his funeral and bust up the church, then brawl in the graveyard with townies until the cops show up and crash the festivities.
The rest of the movie is mainly filler with biker parties, scenes of bikers riding, and Heavenly Blues posing and being a lot more angst-ridden than any real Hell’s Angel ever was. Also, would the president of a Hell’s Angel chapter really be called Heavenly Blues? Yes, he would – if he was really Peter Fonda.
Blues discovers that his buddy Loser’s stolen chopper is being held in Mecca out in the desert by some Mexicans. Blues, Loser (Bruce Dern), and the rest of the gang drive out there to see if they can convince these dudes to give Loser’s motorcycle back.
After they rumble with the Mexicans, a couple of motorcycle cops show up on the scene and Loser steals one of the motorcycle cop’s bikes and drives off with the other cop in hot pursuit. I’m not real sure what Loser’s plan was, but Blues assures everyone that Loser can outride the heat anytime.
Unfortunately, he may be able to outride the heat, but he isn’t as swift outriding the heat’s bullets. The cop shoots him and Loser eventually crashes his bike and gets caught by the police.
Blues and the rest of the gang find out that Loser is being held in the hospital and so a summit at their local pool hall is called. To me, it didn’t look like they were all there having a meeting on Loser’s behalf so much as they were all there playing pool, getting soused, and tiring out mamas and the whole Loser aspect only came up because Loser’s old lady Gaysh appeared and bothered Blues about it.
Finally, Blues gets done running the table and everyone starts talking about what they should do. Blues says that they could bust him out of the hospital if they were smart about it. Everyone agrees, but this is a biker gang that has guys with names like Ugly, Frankenstein, and um Heavenly Blues, so you just know that when they bust him out of the hospital, they’ll be everything but smart about it.
The Wild Angels is fairly silly effort that merits watching due to the absurd miscasting of Fonda and Dern. Director Roger Corman paints a fairly prettied up picture of the Hell’s Angels, especially the fact that someone like Heavenly would ever be in charge of a biker gang.
As portrayed in this film, the Hell’s Angels are really nothing more than rowdy frat boys, who get wasted, break stuff, and assault the occasional woman. Despite the fact that members of the Venice Chapter of the Hell’s Angels were in the film, none of it rings true.
The dialogue is a laughable catalog of slang from the era, that doesn’t lend the proceedings a sense of authenticity so much as makes you think you’re watching a late night parody of a biker gang.
Aside from the casting missteps the other big problem is that this movie is built on such a nothing story. Nothing seemed to be happening and the movie felt like it had long stretches where time was just being filled with scenes of riding and partying that went on way longer than necessary because the script had nothing for anyone to do.
Once Loser died, the movie’s momentum went with it since there wasn’t really anything left to do except bury him. Accordingly, Heavenly didn’t do much but brood and make his speech that unconvincingly tried to justify his pointless existence.
You probably won’t feel cheated though if you went into this expecting nothing more than a few good laughs at the attempt to clean up the Hell’s Angels enough to feature them in a movie without any explicit scenes of violence, drug use, sexuality, swearing, and every other thing a biker gang in real life is involved in.
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