Movie Monday: Hells Angels 69

This Movie is clearly a giant of the genre of biker films for 2 reason.

Firstly It feature many members of the infamous Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels, but unlike in past films that feature true outlaws, they are central characters and have speaking roles. Sonny Barger once stated, that this film was the closest to ever mirror the true lifestyle of the wild 60's that so many films tried to immulate.

Secondly, unlike many of the biker B films this one actually has a decent plot and acting! I know that may sound strange but the truth is, most of these films where just a loose collection of images with no real direction that had to feature a gratuitous party scene, one conflict with squares and then a shocking conclusion.

Hells Angels 69 is more of a slow burn and although it follows that general formula, there is a slowly unfolding story that ties it all together.

Dont worry, the stunts, conflicts and chases are all there, but there is a little extra to this film that makes it a cut above most others in this crowded field.

Of personal interest is the scene where Sonny is see wearing a "White Panthers" badge. This easily overlooked detail is an interesting glimpse into the colorful period that was the late 60's. While the Angels are more often associated with Swastika flags and death heads, the White Panthers was a radical movement, made up of  anti racist whites in alliance with the Black Panther Party (who also got their reputation in Oakland) and was founded by the the manager of the legendary MC 5,  John Sinclair. For more on this period I highly recomend the book "The electric Cool-aid acid test" about the pioneers of psychadelic culture who regularly partied with the Bay Area Angels. Also "Soul On Bikes" about the Black motorcycle club in Oakland at the time is a good read and the intro is written by Barger.

Wild times indeed.

The shots of the  Las Vegas Strip are also amazing for history buffs.

The last reason to watch? A life or death chase through the Nevada desert on scramblers. Throw in some scenes taking a page out of the Sergio Leone Playbook, all to the tune of jazz flutes and bongos... its a no brainer. 

Enjoy this film


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