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Wick's Review

Created Sep 03, 2018 10:32AM PST • Edited Sep 03, 2018 03:47PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. OK 2.5

    The Wild One is an iconic movie better now as an iconic image and line than a motion picture experience. The image? Marlon Brando as an outlaw biker, inspiring popular culture for the next half-century. The line?

    Whattaya got?

    You don’t have to be a Jeopardy whiz to know the question was “What are you rebelling against, Johnny?” Brando parroted the answer a real biker gave producer Stanley Kramer, and turned youth culture on a dime.

    James Dean, John Lennon and generations of hormonally rebellious fans took notice. However, the Who’s line from My Generation comes to mind – “Hope I die before I get old” – since The Wild One is better cast in cultural amber than viewed as an actual movie. It hasn’t aged well, as Brando himself observed, so only deserves viewing now as a cultural curiosity from the precise moment when nihilism went mainstream.

    The ironic thing is that The Wild One was supposed to be a cautionary tale, warning the public of the risk from outlaw bikers. Instead, Brando’s biker was lionized by the titans of pop culture and Baby Boomers alike. Hollywood never learns. From Paul Newman’s Hud to Leonardo DiCaprio’s Wolf of Wall Street, movies about cretins who are played by iconic moviestars turn said cretins into idolized cultural totems. Always have and always will. Right Johnny? Johnny?? Johnny!!!

  3. Very Good 3.5

    Marlon Brando’s biker boss created the Leader of the Pack archetype for generations to come. That’s big.

    • Mary Murphy pops offscreen as the small town girl who he tangles up in blue.
    • Lee Marvin plays a rival biker as a drunken fool. Marvin was apparently drunk on set. It shows.
  4. Male Stars Great 4.0
  5. Female Stars Good 3.0
  6. Female Costars Good 3.0
  7. Male Costars Good 3.0
  8. Barely OK 2.0

    The first ever biker movie, thy name is The Wild One.

  9. Direction OK 2.5
  10. Play Barely OK 2.0
  11. Music Bad 1.0

    1954 was just pre-rock-n-roll, which means the music Johnny plays on the jukebox sucks.

  12. Visuals Very Good 3.5

    Marlon Brando’s gang rode Triumphs, Lee Marvin’s rode Harleys.

  13. Content
  14. Risqué 1.8
  15. Sex Titillating 1.6
  16. Violence Fierce 2.0
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.7
  18. Glib 1.5

    The Wild One is like a game of cultural Telephone, where an actual incident was reported only semi-accurately in magazine articles, which then inspired fictional short stories, which then inspired a screenplay, which then resulted in a movie starring the most culturally important moviestar of the 20th century.

    What was the actual incident that kicked off this series of interpretations? The Hollister riot of July 1947.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 2.4
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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