Hopelessly dated film. Marlon Brandow plays a biker who rolls into a small town with his gang. He let's them run amuck, bonds a bit with a nice local girl, gets beat up by some upper class locals, a man accidentally is killed as he tries to escape, and he ends the movie feeling vaguely guilty about the whole thing. The thrill seems to be the taboos of the counterculture, but they have been exceeded by modern media.
An iconic turn from Marlon Brando helps to lift up this slight tale of rebellious bikers unable to acknowledge that some of the other people they encounter aren't automatically "squares" out to ruin all their fun. Solid stuff, although many moments feel a bit clumsy and obvious.
Propelled by the magnetic aura of a young Brando, already in iconic shape, the film is a critique of 50s conservative America, asphyxiated in many ways for its stance during the Cold War, fostering anger and resentment, a time that cried for its own overture to rights and freedoms. The film's symbolic value far outweights the clumsy shenanigans, the silly mischief and the clownish bravado.
I can only imagine the impact this film had on audiences upon it's release, particularly the young. While Brando gets kudos for his performance, I personally thought Lee Marvin was excellent. Avoiding the romantic cliche worked well but it still felt in many ways like an authoritarian judgement against supposedly empty youth culture.
I just finished watching the film. Brando does an amazing job of making use of the dull moments. At first I thought it was a bit clumsy and I thought some of the acts the gang was engaging in were "cute fun". However out of know where there was a sucker punch of emotion and a deep symbolism to the film...And the ending...This was a film that made me sweat and sit on the edge of my seat. I'm still thinking about it.