Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Film Review: THE WILD ONE (1953, Laslo Benedek)

Stars: 3.5 of 5.
Running Time: 79 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Lee Marvin, Marlon Brando, Robert Keith, Richard Farnsworth.
Tag-lines: "Marlon Brando! Driven Too Far By His Own Hot Blood!"
Best one-liner: "Nobody tells me what to do. You keep needlin' me, if I want to, I'm gonna take this joint apart and you're not gonna know what hit you!"

Forget seeing a man fly in SUPERMAN. Forget STAR WARS' Death Star incinerating a planet. Forget dinosaurs running amok in JURASSIC PARK or KING KONG climbing the Empire State building. The most improbable event ever committed to celluloid is contained within the whirling reels of THE WILD ONE, and that event is this: pretty-boy milksop Marlon Brando beating the shit out of Lee Marvin. Come on.

Alright, forget the iconic status of Brando in this movie for just a second, and think about this: Sporting tattoos and a neatly-trimmed beard, smarmily riding a motorcycle, and wearing a beatnik vest, a striped shirt, and the moniker "Chino," this movie is Lee Marvin's to steal.

And, by God, he hotwires it, takes it for a spin, leaves it upside-down in a ditch, keys it, and then roars away on his hawg, laughin' his ass off like some kinda hyena sonofabitch.

He's so awesome that The Beatles named themselves after Lee's gang (though never officially admitted it). Basing his performance off of legendary biker "Wino Willy" Forkner, who rode with the "Booze Fighters," Lee even learned to ride a motorcycle (so as not to be upstaged by Brando) and quickly became a serious challenger in the desert motorcycle racing scene. Iconic though it may be, this isn't exactly the greatest flick ever made, but Lee proves that it should be remembered for something more than just Brando's lopsided newsie hat. Bravo, Mr. Marvin.

-Sean Gill

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