A man went looking for America, and couldn't find it anywhere...
...the team at MAD Magazine went looking for a 'plot', and couldn't find THAT anywhere!
The United Provinces of Ivanlandia has stated that Easy Rider is not to be considered a 'biker movie'. If so, then what IS a biker movie? What defines the true BIKER MOVIE? What do we expect from such a film? It's tricky because there are so few, relative to other genres.
The list on WIKIPEDIA, which includes ER, stretches the bounds to include many entries that do not qualify.
According to Hells Angels founder, Sonny Barger: "Easy Rider, supposedly the greatest bike movie ever made, wasn't really a bike movie at all. It was a movie about two drug dealers who happened to travel cross-country on bikes." Who are we to argue with Sonny?
So Easy Rider is not a true biker movie, presumably because Wyatt and Billy are not part of an Outlaw Motorcycle Club. But we at OMR feel it does belong on the family tree, in that it was born out of the biker movie phenomenon, and features a cast of biker flick regulars: Dennis Hopper (The Glory Stompers), Peter Fonda (The Wild Angels), Jack Nicholson (The Rebel Rousers, Hells Angels on Wheels), Sabrina Scharf (Hells Angels on Wheels), Luke Askew (Angel Unchained), Robert Walker, Jr. (The Savage Seven), and of course the cinematographer László Kovács (Hells Angels on Wheels, The Savage Seven, Hell's Bloody Devil's, The Rebel Rousers).
And after all, they ARE outlaws from the git-go, and they DO ride tricked-out chopped bikes. More importantly, WE ride with them and feel their alienation as they encounter hippies, rednecks and The Man. But in one early scene, a rancher lends them a hand and feeds them, and Wyatt compliments him, "You do your own thing in your own time. You should be proud." Thus it is individual freedom that fuels this ride. They have no desire to 'join', and in that sense, ER is not a true biker movie. We all know what it is: a ROAD MOVIE! ("The one that started it all"?)
As for the MAD satire, the writer got off to a great start but didn't bother to see it through. He misses a lot of good potential by neglecting the third act. Imagine what he could have done with the acid trip! Mort Drucker, however, lives up to his usual high standard. His crisp, clear, expressive style is always in the service of pure hilarity. Truly the greatest caricaturist, ever. Examine the beautiful lines from the hand of Drucker. (more to come on the Fortieth Anniversary of Easy Rider on July 14)
We'll be examining Biker Movies further on the weekend of May 15. Please visit OMR and the United Provinces of Ivanlandia, as we attempt to distill the essence of this micro-genre.