Greatest Film Scenes
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The Wild Angels (1966)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Wild Angels (1966)

In producer/director Roger Corman's and American International Pictures' (AIP's) action thriller (a production studio known for films that appealed to teenaged, drive-in audiences) - a highly-successful, almost plotless, cheaply-made exploitational B-movie; the anti-establishment outlaw biker film jump-started the careers of Peter Bogdanovich (an uncredited writer, cinematographer and actor, and assistant to the director) and Bruce Dern (actor) - it was one of the very first 'biker' films, and a precursor to Easy Rider (1969) and other counter-cultural, permissive, sexually-liberated biker movies at the time, such as Anthony Lanza's The Glory Stompers (1967) and Richard Rush's Hells Angels on Wheels (1967); it was controversial for its violence, anti-social nihilism, and a presentation of a negative stereotypical view of bikers in the mid-1960s:

  • the Nazi swastika symbol in the opening title screen, accompanied by a guitar soundtrack
  • Peter Fonda as Heavenly Blues, the alienated leader ("Mr. President") of a violent, hedonistic, devil-may-care leather-clad biker gang of Wild Angels (modeled after the Hell's Angels) from the San Pedro chapter (Venice Beach, California) mounted on Harleys, and his girlfriend or 'old lady' Mike aka 'Monkey' (Nancy Sinatra); Blues' iconic appearance included a black leather jacket, a black turtleneck, a Nazi Iron Cross pendant around his neck, dark shades, and moppish brown hair
  • the sequence of the gang's search for the missing stolen chopper of Blues' buddy Joe Kearns, aka Loser (Bruce Dern) - with his girlfriend Gaysh (Diane Ladd, Dern's real-life wife); Loser was recently fired from his oil-rigging job; the bike was rumored to be in the desert town of Mecca, California (in the 'Inland Empire' desert, in the Coachella Valley in the southern Palm Springs area) where some of the gang taunted Mexican bikers in a chopper repair shop with ethnic slurs ("taco benders") and then engaged in a fist-fight brawl with them
  • during the melee, Loser stole a cop's Electra Glide in Blue parked motorcycle; in pursuit, a second Highway Patrol cop on a bike - "The Man" - shot Loser in the back, although the officer lost control and crashed down a cliffside; Loser suffered serious injuries and was arrested at a roadblock
  • the Mecca group returned to the rest of the gang - engaged in rowdy dancing and drinking at a desert oasis (they were watched over by the Highway Patrol from the road above), where some of the females (in their bras) used their discarded tops for a game of motorcycle 'bullfighting,' rabbits were chased in the scrub-brush, and some bikers jousted with long palm fronds
  • the scene of the gang's attempt to rescue Loser from an emergency ward/hospital after surgery was performed; Mike posed as Loser’s distraught, 'straight' middle-class sister from Los Angeles to fool the hospital police guard (Frank Gerstle); during the misguided escape plan, hot-headed gang member Joint (Lou Procopio) molested innocent black Nurse (Kim Hamilton) on duty
  • during transport, Loser's IV and bottle drip were removed, and he slowly died; he was able to express to Gaysh and the gang his final request to smoke a joint ("I just wanna get high"), and then exclaimed: "You all really busted me out" before expiring
  • the lengthy ending sequence of Loser's chaotic and depraved funeral in a small-town church, where his casket was draped with a swastika flag; Blues interrupted the religious eulogy from the sanctimonious Bible-quoting Preacher (Frank Maxwell), and delivered his own famous rambling and inarticulate statement of life principles and the desire for freedom - "We don't want nobody tellin' us what to do. We don't want nobody pushin' us around...We wanna be free. We wanna be free to do what we wanna do. We wanna be free to ride. We wanna be free to ride our machines without being hassled by the Man! And we wanna get loaded! And we want to have a good time! And that’s what we’re gonna do! We're gonna have a good time. We're gonna have a party!"
  • the funeral degenerated into blasphemous anarchy when the gang became violent - it destroyed the church and its pews, and Blues knocked out the Preacher trying to flee; gang members began to party to the beat of bongos, fueling their violent orgy with alcohol and drugs; Dear John (Buck Taylor) and Frankenstein (Mark Cavell) assaulted Loser's 'widowed' Gaysh, forced her to inhale cocaine, and then gang-raped her behind the organ; one person carved a swastika into a broken wooden pew
  • two gang members pulled Loser's corpse from its coffin and propped it upright against a wall with a joint in its mouth ("I think the Loser looks better than the Preacher") and then placed the tied-up preacher into the casket; Blues cast aside Mike and took Momma Monahan (Joan Shawlee) behind the coffin for sex, but then punched out a fellow gang member for dancing with Mike
Loser's Debauched Funeral Service
Rape of Gaysh
Desecrating Loser's Corpse
Sex Behind the Coffin
  • further disturbances broke out after a processional of bikes to the nearby local Sequoia Grove Memorial Cemetery for the coffin's burial in the ground, when one of the townsfolk (Peter Bogdanovich was in the crowd) threw a rock at the pallbearers and ignited a scuffle
  • the final image of Blues at his friend Loser's open gravesite, as police sirens blared; Blues delivered his final words to Mike as he abandoned his gang and stayed behind in the cemetery to take the blame: "There's nowhere to go"; he grabbed a shovel and began filling in the gravesite with dirt as the film ended


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