Monday, January 16, 2012

The Wild One....Outlaw Bikers?

The Wild One (1953), a film on 1950s rebellion was the first feature film about violent outlaw motorcycle gangs in America, which changed Americans' view on bikers and their "good time" attitude forever.   It spawned a new genre of movies, including classics like Born Losers, Hell Angels 69, Rebel Rousers and Angel Unchained that all perpetuated the fear of violence, drunkenness and rape from all "dangerous" bikers. 
The movie starts as "Johnny", played by Marlon Brando, leads The Black motorcycles club into sleepy town, where they reek havoc on all the locals and their establishments for 2 days. 
Boozefighters 1947

The movie was loosley based on The Boozefighters MC who joined The Gypsy run on July 4th 1947 into Hollister California for a weekend of hill-climbs, flat-track races and late night good times. The town had seen hard times due to WWII and welcomed back the event's economic boost. They had previously hosted similar events years before and looked forward to it again.
When 4,000 bikers ascended into the town, they quickly realized they were ill equipped for so many visitors. Like any good motorcycle rally, things get loud and stupid.... Late night burn-outs, street races and drunken antics took over the streets late into the night, with not enough housing bikers were seen sleeping on bikes and in parks, which was later twisted in the media. According, to police officers working the event the "bikers did more harm to themselves than the town" with some going to hospital, but nothing serious. Just boys being boys...
BUT...Barney Peterson, a photographer, staged a photo with a drunk non MC member sitting on a bike surrounded by beer bottles which was printed in TIME Magazine on July 21, 1947 with the caption - Cyclist Holiday- He and his friends terrorize a town

This was sensationalized by the media... drinking, violence and pure brute force! In 1951, writer Frank Rooney wrote "Cyclists Raid" a short story based on a biker gang taking over a town.  Finally Stanley Kramer put his final touches on the story creating the movie that launched careers, created outlaw biker movies and cemented the stereotypes of bikers forever.

Whether you believe that the Boozefighters MC terrorized a sleepy California town or not, those two days changed motorcycle history and made bikers who they are today....good or bad.


  1. C.I. Dourghty's San Francisco Chronicle report on Hollister and "Cyclists' Raid" are both included in "The Mammoth Book of Bikers." If you don't have a copy, it is worth picking up.

  2. "The Mammoth Book of Bikers." is a great book to have for sure. I can let you borrow mine if you need to Ashley.

  3. Awesome, thanks y'all! Jeff I would love too