A psychological gangster film based on fact. Machine gun totin' Ma Barker lead her family gang (her sons) on a crime spree in the Depression era. Her loyal brood have every perversion ... See full summary »
Peter Fonda plays 'Heavenly Blues', the leader of the Angels, a motorcycle gang from San Pedro, California; Bruce Dern plays 'Loser', his best pal. When they both botch their attempt to retrieve Loser's stolen bike, Loser ends up in the hospital. When the Angels bust him out, he dies, and they bury him. Nancy Sinatra plays Mike, Blues' "old lady" and Diane Ladd plays Loser's wife (Dern's real-life wife at the time). The plot is basically a buildup to the last half-hour of the film in which Loser's funeral becomes another wild party. Written by
Roger Corman's modestly-budgeted biker flick for American International opens brilliantly, with evocative shots by cinematographer Richard Moore that promise a lot more than what Corman, screenwriter Charles Griffith, or the cast members can eventually deliver. Plot has Southern California biker gang enjoying rumbles, cycle jousts, hassling the Mexicans, and outrunning the local heat; but when Bruce Dern steals a police-bike and gets shot, gang "president" Peter Fonda hatches a plan to break him out of the hospital and thus keep him out of prison. Fairly raw and uncompromising, the picture looks terrific from start to finish, but the line-readings are sometimes so awkward that one wishes Corman could cut back on dialogue and just allow the visuals to tell the story. Sort of the older brother to "Easy Rider", "Angels" was eclipsed in popularity and relevance only a few years later, but it's fairly gripping and visceral overall, occasionally amusing, and features some fine actors in support (Diane Ladd, Gayle Hunnicutt, Michael J. Pollard, and Nancy Sinatra, whose hospital crying scene is a hoot). **1/2 from ****
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