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The Wild One (1953)

Not Rated | | Drama | February 1954 (USA)
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Two rival motorcycle gangs terrorize a small town after one of their leaders is thrown in jail.

Director:

Laslo Benedek

Writers:

John Paxton (screenplay), Frank Rooney (based on a story by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Marlon Brando ... Johnny Strabler
Mary Murphy ... Kathie Bleeker
Robert Keith ... Sheriff Harry Bleeker
Lee Marvin ... Chino
Jay C. Flippen ... Sheriff Stew Singer
Peggy Maley ... Mildred
Hugh Sanders ... Charlie Thomas
Ray Teal ... Frank Bleeker
John Brown John Brown ... Bill Hannegan
Will Wright ... Art Kleiner
Robert Osterloh ... Ben
William Vedder William Vedder ... Jimmy
Yvonne Doughty Yvonne Doughty ... Britches
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Storyline

Cop-hating Johnny Strabler is recounting the fateful events that led up to the "whole mess" as he calls it, his role in the mess and whether he could have stopped it from happening. The Black Rebels, a motorcycle gang of which Johnny is the leader, cause a ruckus using intimidation wherever they go, with their actions bordering on the unlawful. On the day of the mess, they invade a motorcycle racing event, at which they cause a general disturbance culminating with one of the gang members stealing a second place trophy to give to Johnny. Despite not being the larger winning trophy, it symbolizes to Johnny his leadership within the group. Their next stop is a small town where their disturbance and intimidation tactics continue. Some in town don't mind their arrival as long as they spend money. Harry Bleeker, the local sheriff, doesn't much like them but is so ineffective and weak that he doesn't do anything to stop them, much to the annoyance of some of the other townsfolk, who see the ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Hot feelings hit terrifying heights in a story that really boils over! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

February 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hot Blood See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During their lunch breaks, Marlon Brando and his leading lady Mary Murphy would stay in character whilst at the studio commissary. See more »

Goofs

When being chased by townsfolk, Johnny hides behind a wall. A total shot shows him back-to-wall until the chasers have passed. In the following shot he has turned by 90 degrees to the left and stands clear off the wall. See more »

Quotes

Johnny: [opening narration] It begins here for me on this road. How the whole mess happened I don't know, but I know it couldn't happen again in a million years. Maybe I could of stopped it early, but once the trouble was on its way, I was just goin' with it. Mostly I remember the girl. I can't explain it - a sad chick like that, but somethin' changed in me. She got to me, but that's later anyway. This is where it begins for me right on this road.
See more »

Crazy Credits

[Opening credit] This is a shocking story. It could never take place in most American towns -- But it did in this one.

It is a public challenge not to let it happen again. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Happy Families: Cassie (1985) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Small Town Nightmare
6 May 2013 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

A peaceable town is taken over by motorcycle rowdies.

Despite the sometimes frat boy antics of gang members, the movie came across to audiences of the time as something of a 50's nightmare. For example, there's a small town taken over by motorcycle outlaws, a virginal girl (Murphy) surrounded by rowdies, a cop too meek to intervene, and a general breakdown of peace, quiet and conformity. In short, it's a challenge to the every day norms the famously inarticulate Johnny (Brando) is rebelling against. It's that sort of restlessness that takes the gang to the highway, and the excitement they seek. But it's also a nation recovering from the rigors of a big Depression and the disruptions of WWII. So the two are bound to clash. The movie may seem tame by today's graphic standards, but for the 1950's it was a barbarian assault against the decade's defining conventions. No wonder, the film was condemned in so many places.

Truth be told, Brando doesn't act so much as he poses. Nonetheless, it's an iconic pose in cap and sunglasses that shot him to the forefront of the decade's celebrated rebels. For example, catch how delicately he positions the sunglasses or how he slouches silently by while others cavort. Still, the movie really comes alive when Lee Marvin (Chino) and his gang hit town. He's the loudmouth opposite of Johnny, looking to knock him off his regal pose, which he tries in a well-staged fistfight. Then there's Mary Murphy's good girl, a perfect casting choice. When she flees down a darkened street just ahead of the motorcycle rowdies, I could feel frozen shudders all over the theater of that day. It was like small town America about to be ravaged. Of course, the tables are turned when some of the town's bolder elements form into vigilantes and chase Johnny down the same street. I guess violence, as they say, really is a two-way street.

Anyway, the movie's still a milestone worth catching up with. My only gripe is with the cheapness of the production. The town and the sets are bare bones, especially in the movie's latter half. Maybe that was intentional in order to highlight the story. But if so, it came at the expense of a realistic undercurrent, especially the atrocious exterior set for Johnny and Kathie's little get-away, appearing more like a stage play than a film. All in all, it's a signature movie for the young Brando, cementing his rebel image for a generation.


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