Jumping or perhaps riding in to the cinema of the motorcycle gang is footballer Joe Namath with the help of Roger Smith who wrote and produced this typical story as the genre was nearing the end of it’s popular run at drive-in theaters across the continent. Typical it may be but the one thing it has going for it is the participation of Smith’s real life wife. The stunning Ann-Margret (known affectionately as Ann-Margrock in our household).
Strictly a “B” flick, this one begins with Namath looking a bit goofy as he gorges himself on whatever he likes in a grocery store only to buy a ten cent stick of gum on his way out the door. He starts up his cycle as the song CC Rider kicks in over the split screen credits and he’s off and running on the highway to join up with his not so friendly road gang headed by the one and only William Smith. Smith plays it mean and nasty as one familiar with his on screen persona should expect.
Ann enters our story when Namath, Sid Haig and a third gang member come across her broken down limo in the Arizona outback. Haig decides Ann is fair game and promptly moves in for some unwanted affections with his other gang member crony. When Ann struggles against the duo, the bald headed Haig comes up with a good one liner that does little to please Ann, “You don’t like my Yul Brynner look?”
Namath won’t have any of this and promptly pulls the thugs off Ann following up with some fisticuffs and ass kicking. The pair move on back to Smith and company while Namath comes off as Ann’s hero and the flirting begins. Back at roadside headquarters which is wherever Smith is standing, Namath turns up and Smith wants answers as to Namath’s actions. In a childish way, a good majority of this flick is about Smith’s struggle for power as top dog in the gang versus the carefree Namath who let’s very little bother him. Also in the gang are a harem of ladies that Smith runs as hookers to score money while posing as hitchhikers led by Smith’s personal favorite, Jennifer Billingsley.
Ann it turns out is a fashion designer which gives her a fair number of costume changes and when the gang crash a motor cross race it gives her and Namath a chance to start up with the flirtatious looks once again as Ann is there on a photo shoot. Namath not only likes what he sees in Ann but also the bike race and turns up the following week as an entry. Always looking to control the gang, Smith is once again less than amused but when Namath wins a cash prize, he demands the money for the gang’s expenses. He of course will hold on to it.
The balance of this 85 minute programmer is thoroughly predictable as Namath tries to break ties with the gang and when Smith has his troops kidnap Ann, Namath is going to have to race against Smith to reclaim his lady love or else she may just wind up as Smith’s next biker babe/hooker on wheels.
This one is best described as a time capsule as are so many of these biker flicks of the era. For me that also includes the one most point to as a classic, Easy Rider. It has the customary scenes of free love and POV shots as the cyclists roar down the open highways taking things as they please. Our hero Joe just wants to live life one day at a time and see what the next bend in the road brings. Perhaps Ann and her free blowing hair in the wind might hop on behind him come the final reel.
Music fans might want to check this out for a clip of Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders who sing at a nightclub where Joe and Ann hit the dance floor in a poorly edited sequence under the direction of Seymour Robbie. Honestly I’m not familiar with Mr. Cochran but I found him to be a white man’s version of James Brown. Outfits, accompanying female singers, footwork and hair to boot. Sorry Wayne though I did recognize some of that music from The Blues Brothers. Ann herself sneaks in a song over the soundtrack at a key point in the feature when her and Joe frolic about in the river and feed the ducks as they fall in love. As I say, a key point.
A first time viewing for me and proof that I’ll pick up a movie anywhere. This one’s been on my shelf a while but incredibly I picked it up in a pawn shop on a road trip through the White Mountain National Forest area of New Hampshire as my wife and I toured them and the small towns within as we made our way from Salem north into Quebec a couple years back.
Far from memorable but I can at least say I’ve seen it and though it didn’t enhance my love for all things Ann-Margret, it did however reinforce the fact that Joe Namath doesn’t have anywhere near the star quality that Jim Brown has on the big screen.