Hell’s Angels ’69 (1969)

I’ve never been able to escape the idea that, basically, bikies are just a bunch of arseholes on wheels of little particular interest, and so I’ve never really been able to get interested in the outlaw biker film. This… well, this hasn’t really convinced me. Star Tom Stern couldn’t convince anyone back in the day, either, that his idea for a film was worth pursuing, and so he apparently had to pay for it himself (American International picked up the end result for distribution); director was one Lee Madden, whose first film it was, and oh doesn’t it look like it too… Story’s about two well-off brothers who hit on the idea of robbing Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas for the hell of it, so they start slumming it with a biker gang who they intend to use as a distraction while they’re doing the robbery. The kick is that the gang is none other than the Hell’s Angels, and—in the film’s only bit of real distinction—the latter are played by the real Hell’s Angels, Sonny Barger and his mob from Oakland. So you can probably tell things will go badly once they find they’ve been used. It’s an interesting if not hugely credible premise—what, we’re supposed to believe the Hell’s Angels would actually do what they do in the film?—somewhat undone in the execution by the fact that, well, the Angels can’t really act, though no one in the film is really helped by the fact that film sounds like it’s been completely (and quite miserably) post-synchronised. Much more problematic, though, is the poor pacing; at just 96 minutes it’s still probably 15 minutes too long, diffusing its fairly limited thrills, and a dispute between the two brothers is introduced too late in the game for it to have much point. Maybe you have to actually be into biker movies, unlike me, to get much from this. I don’t know.


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