Whether they deserve it or not, bikers have a reputation for being rebellious free spirits. Perhaps the most common places we see these stereotypes are in films. Here are some of my favorite 5 rebellious bikers throughout history!
1. The Wild One
When any mention is made of rebellious biker movies, the first one that comes to mind by almost everyone is the iconic “The Wild One.” Laszlo Benedek directed the film that was produced by Stanley Kramer in 1953. Marlon Brando was unforgettable in his portrayal of the legendary character Johnny Strabler, and also in his particular style as the narrator of the movie. His motorcycle of choice was a 1950 Triumph Thunderbird 6T. His image was perfected with a Perfecto motorcycle jacket and a captain style hat always tilted to the side for a cocky look that matched his personality.
Even after all these years the image that Brando created for Johnny Strabler in “The Wild One” remains powerful today. His long sideburns started a style that James Dean and Elvis Presley picked upon. More recently Shia LaBeouf in the 2008 Indiana Jones film, “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, rides onto the scene looking like Johnny himself.
2. Easy Rider
Another famous and unforgettable movie in America film history was the cult classic “Easy Rider.” This movie was destined to become great. It was a partner motorcycle film with Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper and of course, Henry Fonda. The 1969 film was written by Fonda, Hopper and Terry Southern, produced by Fonda and directed by Hopper. In “Easy Rider” Fonda and Hopper ride their bikes all throughout the American Southwest. But they weren’t just riding; they were riding for freedom and self-expression. During the course of this film, the tensions and controversies in the United States of the 60’s were explored. Hippies and drugs were brought to the fore front on a chopper.
3. The World’s Fastest Indian
Another biker movie that deserves to be on the top five list is one that is less-known that “The Wild One” and “Easy Rider.” But unlike the other two, “The World’s Fastest Indian” is based on a true story. No, Burt Munro is not a Native American. In fact, he’s from New Zealand. The word Indian in the title is not about a man, but rather about a bike. Anthony Hopkins plays the part of Burt Munro, a New Zealand bike racer who, through much time and effort and belief, sets a world record on a the famous bike brand of Indian. Munro sets a 1000cc world record on an Indian bike in 1967. Amazingly enough the bike received a transforming modification and an aerodynamic covering by Munro himself. Even more amazing was the fact that Munro was 68 years old and his Indian bike was 47 years old when the record was broken.
4. The Great Escape
The next of the top 5 is a movie about an attempted World War II prison break from a German Prisoner of War camp. Captain Virgil Hilts, accompanied by Steve McQueen, leads Lieutenant Bob Hendley (James Garner) and Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett (Richard Attenborough), make every heroic and valiant attempt at freedom. Interestingly enough McQueen rode in disguise as a German soldier in the last chase scene, then was later filmed as Captain Hilts in that same scene. The most memorable motorcycle scene was that unbelievable 60 foot jump over the fence.
5. Mad Max
Mad Max introduced Mel Gibson, a little known Australian actor, to the movie scene in the antagonistic utopia of crazy
violence and disturbing highways in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s the story of a motorcycle gang seeking vengeance for the death of their has-been leader. The bikes that were stars of the show were the Kawasaki’s, a K-1000 and a 900. Mad Max is a movie we love to hate, telling the story of a society’s breakdown.