The best movies about bikers and motorcycles, ranked
Biker gangs and outlaws have been popping up in Hollywood for years, with TV and movies often portraying the misunderstood misfits. For decades, acclaimed filmmakers have told unique and haunting stories about bikers, with Marlon Brando’s 1953 classic The wild widely regarded as the original image of the outlaw biker who set a precedent for future films. The 1960s and 1970s became notorious for the many motorcycle films that graced the big screen, with the 1969 independent road drama Easy Rider help inspire the era of New Hollywood cinema in which young, innovative directors rose to prominence.
Some of show business’s brightest stars have appeared in such films, such as renowned entertainers like Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Mel Gibson, and Dennis Hopper. Whether you’re in the mood for an insightful and inspiring documentary about road racers, a dystopian action flick with intense scenes like madmax, or gripping cinematic staples like the aforementioned Brando hit The wild, there are plenty of exciting movies to watch on motorcycles. These are the best movies about bikers and motorcycles.
9 Electra Glide in Blue
Robert Blake stars in the 1973 action film Electra Glide in Blue as a small but enthusiastic highway patrolman from Arizona with big dreams of earning a promotion to the homicide division, who finally gets the chance to prove his skills after being asked to join a murder case. To prepare for the role, Blake was taught by an LAPD motor officer how to properly ride a police motorcycle, with the couple spending more than a month cruising the streets of Van Nuys to gain experience on the bike.
For his role, Blake was nominated for a Golden Globe and his performance as an officer helped the actor get cast in the crime drama series. Barrette. Although it failed to make big waves when it was released, in 2012 Time Magazine called Electra Glide in Blue “An overlooked cult classic”, and remarked, “It’s a quirky but unforgettable film – part character study, part examination of emerging youth culture – featuring outstanding camerawork from the future Oscar-winning cinematographer Conrad Hall.”
8 The loveless
The dynamic Willem Dafoe had his first big starring role in the 1981 outlaw biker drama The loveless, in which the actor plays the leader of a 1950s outlaw motorcycle gang en route to Daytona; While making a pit stop in a small southern town, Chief Vance catches the eye of the rebellious daughter of a wealthy and abusive local.
The picture was the directorial debut of Kathryn Bigelow (later to become the first woman to win the Best Director Oscar), who teamed up with Monty Montgomery for the drama, paying homage to the Marlon Brando-directed 1953 classic. The wild. When discussing the importance of the loveless, Dafoe expressed how gratifying and impactful the film was, having said, “I had been a glorified extra in The Gate of Paradise, and I had had a few downtown art films. The loveless I felt like a real movie actor.
7 Hell’s Angels on wheels
Jack Nicholson headlined 1967 biker thriller Hell’s Angels on wheels, appearing alongside Adam Roarke and Sabrina Scharf as gas station attendant Poet, a tough outside man who suddenly finds his mundane life a turn on after being invited to hang out with the infamous outlaw biker gang. Hell’s Angels law. Poet soon realizes he’s in over his head after witnessing the club’s brutality and violence, having seen them commit both murder and robbery.
The flustered figure also catches the eye of one of the member’s girlfriends, leading to a ruthless final showdown between the two men. Nicholson starred in the underrated biker thriller before later appearing in the historical counterculture film Easy Rider, against Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper; both images helped establish his character as a rebellious and sardonic wanderer.
6 wild angels
Widely considered the image that helped cement Peter Fonda’s status as a counterculture movie star, the 1966 outlaw biker drama wild angels features the silver screen legend as gang leader Heavenly Blues, who, along with his motorcycle crew, the Angels, clashes with the police in Mecca, California after seeking bloody revenge against a group of robbers.
Director Roger Corman was interested in making a Hell’s Angels film after seeing a photo of a biker funeral in a 1966 issue of Life magazine, wanting to write an adventure film similar to Lawrence of Arabia and Bridge over the River Kwai. The drama proved to be a hit with moviegoers, earning over $15 million while helping to launch the biker movie genre and make Fonda a household name. The Hell’s Angels were unhappy with their representation in wild angels and even filed a million dollar libel suit against Corman, after threatening violence against the director at the time.
5 Any Sunday
Widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential motorcycle documentaries ever made, Bruce Brown directed the 1971 film Any Sunday, recounting the great Steve McQueen (of Bullit) and other off-road racers like Malcolm Smith and the immense skill and talent it takes to compete in this exciting sport. Brown showcased the different forms of running and the personalities often associated with each style while capturing dramatic footage and close-ups of the electrifying runners.
Any Sunday helped popularize BMX across America, as the sport of cycling was only seen in California. The director went on to explain how he believes the documentary has helped change the general public perception and opinion of motorcycle racers from “bad guys” to The wild to respected heroes.
4 motorcycle journals
Based on the memoirs of revolutionary figure and Marxist guerrilla leader Che Guevara, the 2004 biopic motorcycle journals chronicles the 1952 motorcycle expedition of a then 23-year-old Guevara as he travels across South America and witnesses crippling poverty and social injustice alongside his close friend Alberto Granada. Starring Gael García Bernal as a historical figure, the drama is primarily inspired by Guevara’s travel diary of the same name, with his journey ultimately shaping his thoughts and opinions on the political repression and shocking economic inequality plaguing Latin America. .
To prepare for the monumental role, García Bernal read all the biographies on Guevara, traveled to Cuba to speak to his family and Granado, and adopted an Argentinian accent. When the biopic was released, the actor told reporters, “I feel very responsible. I’m willing to do it because of what Che means to the world. He’s a Romantic. He had a political conscience. that changed Latin America.
George Miller’s 1979 Australian dystopian action film madmax helped launch the career of then-promising Mel Gibson, who plays former vigilante officer “Mad” Max Rockatansky as he sets out to take down a brutal biker gang amid a societal meltdown. Max confronts the leader of the malevolent biker team Toecutter, who, along with his cronies, is terrorizing the populace through acts of violence, vandalism, and intimidation.
Miller raised the $350,000 budget for madmax while working as a doctor in a Sydney emergency room, witnessing many of the injuries and deaths depicted in the film. Many biker gang extras were actual members of outlaw motorcycle clubs, and they rode their own bikes for the action shot; due to limited budget and production issues, some of these extras were also paid in beer for their services. madmax went on to have a profound impact on pop culture, particularly for its depiction of desolate landscapes and dystopian worlds, and a series of madmax films have been made as a result.
2 The wild
One of the most influential actors of the 20th century, the legendary Marlon Brando helped make the character of Johnny Strabler a cultural icon of the 1950s after his gripping portrayal in the 1953 crime drama. The wild. Chronicling the fierce rivalry between Johnny’s gang, the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club, and their equally violent enemy club, the photo shows the budding romance between the misfit and the local sheriff’s daughter (much to the officer’s dismay) .
The wild is widely regarded as the original biker film and was one of the very first to closely inspect the violence of American outlaw motorcycle gangs; Brando’s character helped popularize the famous sideburns style, a Perfecto-style motorcycle jacket and titled cap. The actor’s performance was met with critical acclaim, with The Hollywood Reporter writing, “Marlon Brando spins in a hugely powerful performance as the inarticulate, frozen-faced, earthy outlaw who leads the gang of hoodlums in motorbike.”
1 Easy Rider
Dennis Hopper wrote, directed and co-starred in the 1969 independent road drama Easy Rider, appearing alongside Hollywood greats Peter Fonda and great Jack Nicholson for the historic counterculture image. In the gripping drama, Hopper and Fonda portray hippie bikers Billy and Wyatt “Captain America,” who embark on a journey through the American South after striking a lucrative cocaine deal; along the way, they meet free-spirited alcoholic lawyer George Hanson, who joins them on their adventure.
Easy Rider was critically acclaimed for exploring the societal climate, attitudes and issues of the 1960s, while highlighting the rise of the hippie movement during this period. The Oscar-nominated road drama also helped establish the era of New Hollywood in the ’60s and ’70s and proved to major entertainment studios that successful projects could be made from low-budget independent films.
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