Hell's Angels


1h 38m 1969

Brief Synopsis

Two brothers have a plan on how to rob the Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. They join a motorcycle gang and while the others are drinking and partying outside of town, they change their clothes and head off to rob the casino. Of course, the police do not look for two well dressed criminals among the Hell's Angels.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
M
Genre
Action
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Detroit opening: 30 Jul 1969
Production Company
Tracom Productions
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

Chuck and Wes, two bored New England playboys who are also half brothers, decide to amuse themselves by robbing Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Interested only in finding out if they can pull off the heist, they intend to mail back whatever loot they steal. Upon arriving in California, they pose as cyclists from an Eastern gang and win the admiration of the Hell's Angels by harassing an innocent highway motorist. After passing the Angels' initiation tests, Chuck and Wes are welcomed into the fold, particularly by Betsy, one of the Angels' "mamas." The boys then set the stage for their caper by talking the Angels into riding to Vegas with them. Using the unwitting Angels as a diversion, Chuck and Wes switch into college clothes and pull off the heist while the police and casino management are tangling with the gang. Quickly switching back into their cycle outfits, Chuck and Wes are about to make their getaway when they are confronted by Betsy. Aware of their masquerade and robbery, she wants a share of the loot--and Wes. Forced to comply, Chuck and Wes take Betsy along as they ride off into the desert. The police discover the ruse and inform the Angels that they have been used. Furious, the Angels pursue the trio into the desert. Chuck is cornered in a canyon by the Angels; trying to make a dangerous cycle leap, he crashes to his death. As for Wes and Betsy, the Angels drain the fuel out of their bikes and steal their water supply, leaving them to perish in the scorching desert.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
M
Genre
Action
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Detroit opening: 30 Jul 1969
Production Company
Tracom Productions
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

The Gist (Hell's Angels) - THE GIST


The biker movie might be a disreputable subgenre for the high brow film snob but within the realm of biker flick completists, there are critical standards that exist even for exploitation cinema. Among the high water marks in the genre are The Wild One (1953), Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising (1964) and The Wild Angels (1966), which enjoy cult status more for their iconic associations than cinematic greatness. At the other end of the spectrum are synthetic and laughable Hollywood ripoffs like C.C. and Company (1970) and indefensible depravity like Satan's Sadists (1969). Falling somewhere between these poles is Hell's Angels '69, which is a better-than-average biker flick and earns extra points for serving up the Oakland chapter of the Hell's Angels, under the leadership of Sonny Barger, as unlikely heroes in this Western-on-wheels.

The real villains in the piece are two half-brothers, Chuck and Wes, played by Tom Stern and Jeremy Slate respectively, who also conceived the story together. The duo pose as renegade bikers out for kicks and try to gain entry into the private circle of Sonny Barger's band of cyclists. Their motive soon becomes obvious: They plan to use the Angels as a diversion in Las Vegas while they stage a daring robbery at Caesar's Palace (one reviewer rather aptly referred to the film as Easy Rider meets Ocean's 11). While the actual heist is allotted little screen time, it does provide the amusing sight of Chuck and Wes in disguises that would tip off any security guards checking out suspicious patrons (dig those crazy straight arrow wigs!) and leads to a third act chase in which the thieves are pursued deep into the desert by Sonny's gang, who are intent on dishing out their own brand of justice.

Tom Stern and Jeremy Slate are both well cast as the two jaded protagonists who are staging the robbery for kicks and not out of greed. Of course, the twist comes later when it's revealed that Chuck is the trust fund baby who holds the strings and Wes is his obliging puppet, eager for some monetary gain in the end. Stern has traveled down this same road before in Angels from Hell (1968) and Slate is no stranger to the exploitation field with a filmography that includes memorable stints in The Mini-Skirt Mob (1968), Hell's Belles (1970) and The Hooked Generation (1968), where he plays a particularly repellent drug dealer/murderer. But the real surprise here is Conny Van Dyke, who brings an unexpected poignancy and overripe voluptuousness to her role as Betsy, a little-girl-lost type who becomes female chattel for the bikers; in one scene, she's traded away to Chuck for a pack of cigarettes and he eventually passes her on to Wes when he's through with her.

As for Sonny Barger and his Hell's Angels contingent, they are barely convincing playing themselves but that didn't stop them from appearing in several biker movies. As depicted here, they are much less threatening and destructive than their public image and come across more as grungy party boys who just love to drink, fight and ride their bikes. Hell's Angels '69 does have one terrific brawl scene where two by fours are used as weapons along with anything else not bolted down; at one point a smoking bar-b-que grill full of white-hot coals gets thrown at someone's head. The motorcycle stunts are also impressive and there is some vivid and exciting action sequences shot in the picturesque Red Rock Canyon State Park.

Hell's Angels '69 was one of several motorcycle gang movies distributed by American International during that period in the late sixties and early seventies when they were a regular staple at the drive-ins. Of course, the biker genre never got any respect from mainstream critics and The New York Times review of Hell's Angels '69 is no exception. It dismissed the movie as "dismal" and objected to the film's treatment of the Hell's Angels: "By now their physical resemblance to lovable teddy bears may well have affected the Angels' self image, but not, I hope, to to the extent that they continue to submit to such degrading elevation in American folk-demonology." Directed by Lee Madden (Angel Unchained, 1970], the film might not be as consistently entertaining as Richard Rush's Hells Angels on Wheels (1968) with Jack Nicholson but you could do much worse.

Producer: Tom Stern
Director: Lee Madden
Screenplay: Don Tait; Tom Stern, Jeremy Slate
Cinematography: Paul Lohmann
Music: Tony Bruno
Film Editing: Gene Ruggiero
Cast: Tom Stern (Chuck), Jeremy Slate (Wes), Conny Van Dyke (Betsy), Steve Sandor (Apache), Sonny Barger (Sonny), Terry the Tramp (Terry), Skip (Skip), Tiny (Tiny), Magoo (Charlie Magoo), The Oakland Hell's Angels (Themselves), G.D. Spradlin (Detective).
C-96m.

by Jeff Stafford
The Gist (Hell's Angels) - The Gist

The Gist (Hell's Angels) - THE GIST

The biker movie might be a disreputable subgenre for the high brow film snob but within the realm of biker flick completists, there are critical standards that exist even for exploitation cinema. Among the high water marks in the genre are The Wild One (1953), Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising (1964) and The Wild Angels (1966), which enjoy cult status more for their iconic associations than cinematic greatness. At the other end of the spectrum are synthetic and laughable Hollywood ripoffs like C.C. and Company (1970) and indefensible depravity like Satan's Sadists (1969). Falling somewhere between these poles is Hell's Angels '69, which is a better-than-average biker flick and earns extra points for serving up the Oakland chapter of the Hell's Angels, under the leadership of Sonny Barger, as unlikely heroes in this Western-on-wheels. The real villains in the piece are two half-brothers, Chuck and Wes, played by Tom Stern and Jeremy Slate respectively, who also conceived the story together. The duo pose as renegade bikers out for kicks and try to gain entry into the private circle of Sonny Barger's band of cyclists. Their motive soon becomes obvious: They plan to use the Angels as a diversion in Las Vegas while they stage a daring robbery at Caesar's Palace (one reviewer rather aptly referred to the film as Easy Rider meets Ocean's 11). While the actual heist is allotted little screen time, it does provide the amusing sight of Chuck and Wes in disguises that would tip off any security guards checking out suspicious patrons (dig those crazy straight arrow wigs!) and leads to a third act chase in which the thieves are pursued deep into the desert by Sonny's gang, who are intent on dishing out their own brand of justice. Tom Stern and Jeremy Slate are both well cast as the two jaded protagonists who are staging the robbery for kicks and not out of greed. Of course, the twist comes later when it's revealed that Chuck is the trust fund baby who holds the strings and Wes is his obliging puppet, eager for some monetary gain in the end. Stern has traveled down this same road before in Angels from Hell (1968) and Slate is no stranger to the exploitation field with a filmography that includes memorable stints in The Mini-Skirt Mob (1968), Hell's Belles (1970) and The Hooked Generation (1968), where he plays a particularly repellent drug dealer/murderer. But the real surprise here is Conny Van Dyke, who brings an unexpected poignancy and overripe voluptuousness to her role as Betsy, a little-girl-lost type who becomes female chattel for the bikers; in one scene, she's traded away to Chuck for a pack of cigarettes and he eventually passes her on to Wes when he's through with her. As for Sonny Barger and his Hell's Angels contingent, they are barely convincing playing themselves but that didn't stop them from appearing in several biker movies. As depicted here, they are much less threatening and destructive than their public image and come across more as grungy party boys who just love to drink, fight and ride their bikes. Hell's Angels '69 does have one terrific brawl scene where two by fours are used as weapons along with anything else not bolted down; at one point a smoking bar-b-que grill full of white-hot coals gets thrown at someone's head. The motorcycle stunts are also impressive and there is some vivid and exciting action sequences shot in the picturesque Red Rock Canyon State Park. Hell's Angels '69 was one of several motorcycle gang movies distributed by American International during that period in the late sixties and early seventies when they were a regular staple at the drive-ins. Of course, the biker genre never got any respect from mainstream critics and The New York Times review of Hell's Angels '69 is no exception. It dismissed the movie as "dismal" and objected to the film's treatment of the Hell's Angels: "By now their physical resemblance to lovable teddy bears may well have affected the Angels' self image, but not, I hope, to to the extent that they continue to submit to such degrading elevation in American folk-demonology." Directed by Lee Madden (Angel Unchained, 1970], the film might not be as consistently entertaining as Richard Rush's Hells Angels on Wheels (1968) with Jack Nicholson but you could do much worse. Producer: Tom Stern Director: Lee Madden Screenplay: Don Tait; Tom Stern, Jeremy Slate Cinematography: Paul Lohmann Music: Tony Bruno Film Editing: Gene Ruggiero Cast: Tom Stern (Chuck), Jeremy Slate (Wes), Conny Van Dyke (Betsy), Steve Sandor (Apache), Sonny Barger (Sonny), Terry the Tramp (Terry), Skip (Skip), Tiny (Tiny), Magoo (Charlie Magoo), The Oakland Hell's Angels (Themselves), G.D. Spradlin (Detective). C-96m. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Filmed on location in Las Vegas and the Nevada desert.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer July 1969

Released in United States Summer July 1969