Monday, February 2, 2009

The Real Wild One and a lament of Biker Style

In my last post I revealed the essence of Hot Rodding style via the book, 'The Day The Hot Rods ran'. In this blog I wanted to give a summary on the Papa's thoughts about Biker style and the movie the 'Wild One'.
Chino is the Wild One!! No doubt, no argument!
Lee Marvin's portrayal of Chino smolders deeper than Brando's Johnny by a long shot. Chino is one dirty looking biker bum to Johnny's squeaky clean.
Based on the actual event in 1947 when Hollister California was taken over by roaming pre-Angles bikers, the Wild One stands as an incredible style beacon to anyone interested in iconic biker style.

If we accept the premise that the original outlaw biker outfits were returned serviceman too hooked on the Adrenalin of battle to ever conform back into the post war military efficiency of the new United States, then who ever ward robed the WILD ONE, got it right in spades. Forget Brando's Black Rebels for a moment and focus instead on Chino's Beatles, what we see is an incredibly accurate portrayal of true biker style. In the crowd/gang scenes of the movie, the Beatles are attired in an amazing array of ex-military surplus. True they are all wearing selvaged Levis, but from that point on individuality kicks in, there's engineers boots, loggers boots, Linesman's boots, sweatshirts, striped t-shirts, tasselled cowboy jackets, Navy deck jackets, every conceivable type of aviation and civilian leather jackets, flight deck caps, skunk skin hats, Woods mans' wool mackinaw coats, so in total the works, its all going on here. Every single biker has his own style!

From this visual fest, Papa poses the question, how did it all go wrong?
Fast forward 60 or so years. The other day I'm waiting in the traffic and lo and behold the familiar rumble of a Harley motor zooms up along side me to stop at the traffic lights. Sitting astride this beast is some over sized steroided buffoon, wearing a cutoff Gold's Gym sweat shirt with club colours on a vest over the top, he's wearing the cheapest nastiest pair of jeans Ive ever seen, probably purchased at k-mart and woe unto any reference of style , this geek is wearing hi-tech, Asics white sports shoes!! Lament, lament, I almost weeped beneath my snickering. What the hell happenned and where did it all go wrong?

I'm thinking to myself now that there's no essence of the biker-outlaw anymore, not in the true sense of the word or the original concept. Today's bikers appear to be just criminals on two wheels. Their focus based on thuggery, drug trafficking and the like, hence the need to be muscled and intimidating. Perhaps this is all the result of organising by gangs to control 'interests'. While not casting dispersions, I can't help but lament about a time when it was more about the freedom of the open road and a life apart from the conforms of normal society.
As a style reference however the Wild One still remains the defining movie, especially so if we look beyond the fore ground shots in the movie and focus instead on the crowd scenes. In there lies a wealth of reference essential to anyone who still yearns to wear a sneer on their lips and lean on a bar tapping out be-bop rhythms with their hands.


  1. Marvin was perfectly cast..he was a juvenile delinquent, ex marine sniper, purple heart winner and back from the war as an actor ...he could have been a biker during the hollister incident...the movie always had a little hoke amongst the story..but unlike Wild Angels it seemed to have much more truthiness in the backdrop..not bad for a movie directed by a Liberal German immigrant in a new home of America

  2. Marvin was perfectly cast..he was a juvenile delinquent, ex marine sniper, purple heart winner and back from the war as an actor ...he could have been a biker during the hollister incident

  3. Yes, he was the role and it shows.

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