Bullet Points: Hell’s Angels ’69
The Hell’s Angels is without a doubt the most famous outlaw biker gang motorcycle club. Like most motorcycle clubs they have a mottled history where they have been both vilified and glorified for their actions. While there is no doubt of the illegal activity committed by members and the organization as a whole many still look up to the Hell’s Angels for the ideals of brotherhood and independence. This unique dichotomy plays out perfectly in the 1969 film Hell’s Angels ’69. I have seen this film countless times and know how the film ends, yet I am still unsure if I should be rooting for or against the titular motorcycle club. Luckily for you I happen to have some Bullet Points for the action packed heist film so join me on a journey to Hell’s Angels ’69.
- Wine ʼEm – Two wealthy brothers, Chuck (Tom Stern) and Wes (Jeremy Slate) seemingly are living the high life. We first meet the pair at a lavish party filled with gorgeous women and everyone dressed to the nines in the hottest 1969 fashion. The alcohol is flowing and the women want them to stay but the pair leave their own party telling everyone they have to go to Mexico. We know that the pair are headed to Oakland, CA to trick their way into the good graces of the Hell’s Angels. What we also know that the Hell’s Angels don’t is that the brothers want to use the Hell’s Angels to distract the Las Vegas authorities in order to rob Caesar’s Palace. The Hell’s Angels were played by themselves with some pretty famous names in the biker world being involved. Sonny Barger, Terry the Tramp, Magoo and a bunch of other real-life hard riding individuals who excelled at giving wooden deliveries and bland performances. They do look the part with top notch riding, realistic fights and enough beer drinking to make Churchill jealous. Also, bike lovers might blow a head gasket from seeing all the vintage choppers.
- Dine ʼEm – The brothers pretend to be a couple of bikers from Boston and trick the Hell’s Angels into taking them into their group and eventually manipulate the group into heading to Las Vegas for a run. How do they get into the good graces of the Hell’s Angels? Chuck and Wes do some trick riding, take a beating from the Hell’s Angels and all around act like a couple of bad asses. I do not recommend that ride your motorcycle while standing on the seat with no hands. However, when Terry the Tramp gives it a try it ends in most spectacular fashion. Chuck and Wes were not counting on Betsy (Conny Van Dyke) becoming attached to the pair. Betsy was the Tramp’s old lady before he sells her to Chuck for a pack of cigarettes. Betsy sleeps with both brothers (at different times) and wants to leave the Hell’s Angels and go with them. She even sneaks away to Caesar’s Palace and finds out about the brothers true intentions and throws a big monkey wrench into their plans.
- Sixty-Nine ʼEm – Chuck and Wes plan on escaping Las Vegas off road, but they made a mistake allowing the Hell’s Angels to discover they were double crossed. Once the Hell’s Angels find out about the true Chuck and Wes we are treated to a chase movie through the Nevada and California desert. If you are like me you really wanted to see the Hell’s Angels riding dirt bikes instead of Harleys. This is where the movie changes tone. Hell’s Angels ’69 spends the whole movie with Chuck and Wes. We learn the big secret that they only rob Caesar’s Palace for the sport and plan on giving the money back which makes you think that they aren’t really bad. However, without spoiling too much, the Hell’s Angels are in the title and since they got screwed over they are the ones with the happy ending. I will spoil the fact that Chuck decides to go out with style with one of the best endings I have ever seen in an action movie.
Hell’s Angels ’69 is a fun and entertaining action movie and even though it might be a little dated (and literally dated) it should not stop you from giving it a watch. Lovers of motorcycles will get special pleasure from all the bikes and motorcycle riding although I am always confused with who I should be rooting for. The thief brothers who plan on returning the money or the group that sold a woman for a pack of cigarettes? I will leave that for you to decide but at least there is no confusion on how this review is ending. Bonus Bullet Points!
- 69, Dudes! – The ’69 in Hell’s Angels ’69 refers to the year the movie was released and the year the film takes place. I love a title that tells me what the movie will be showing and when à la Hong Kong 97. They had to include the year because there is a 1930 movie titled Hell’s Angels.
- The Return of Bruno – The soundtrack is filled by songs from the talented Tony Bruno and adds the perfect backdrop for all the intrigue and action. Bonus points for the terrible dancing done by the people watching Bruno’s live performance at the brother’s party.
- Double Double Duty – Tom Stern and Jeremy Slate not only starred in Hell’s Angels ’69 they also wrote the story with the screenplay by Don Tait.
- Nice Ass – Did you know that the Hell’s Angels can ride donkeys just as good as Harleys?
- Riding Into the Sunset – Hell’s Angels ’69 is just one of many quality biker action movies but I’d be upset with myself if I didn’t recommend a couple of my personal favorites: Beyond the Law which tells the true story of Dan Saxon and his undercover work to take down a motorcycle club; and Asphalt Angels with its all-female biker gang.