THE GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE (1968)
Run Time: 0:00
Director: Jack Cardiff
Writer: André Pieyre de Mandiargues (novel), Ronald Duncan (screenplay)
Key Cast: Marianne Faithfull, Alain Delon, Roger Mutton
Newly-married Rebecca leaves her husband’s Alsatian bed on the Harley-Davidson given to her by a former lover. Her early-morning ride (escape) to visit her lover is accompanied by reveries about her conflicting desires; her stable husband versus her passionate motorcyclist lover. As she nears her destination, Rebecca’s excitement over this sexual reunion becomes an extended motorcycle masturbation, with the vibration of her V-twin bringing her to a frenzy of erotic speed. (See our article ‘The Sex Machine’ here)
Rebecca’s character is based (visually) on Anke-Eve Goldmann, a real-life German motorcycle rider and competitor, who invented a one-piece leather riding suit for women, which she had made at Harro Leathers. Anke-Eve bucked societal norms by daring to ride a powerful motorcycle in post-war Germany, and faced considerable condemnation initially, but became famous as a journalist writing for magazines around the world by the 1950s. She was friends with author André Pieyre de Mandiargues, who wrote his novella ‘The Motorcycle’ with a central character resembling Anke-Eve, who was then married to a German television producer, but had a passionate affair with a dashing Swiss motorcyclist. Rebecca bears no real resemblance to Anke-Eve, who was confident and strong, although her leather catsuit ‘inspired’ a generation of European men…as did Marianne Faithful’s reverse strip-tease in this film!
‘Girl on a Motorcycle’ (called ‘Naked Under Leather’ in Europe…a more exact representation of the film’s intentions) is part of a long tradition of eroticized girl+motorcycle films, beginning in 1928 with ‘Impatience’ (watch it here!), and continuing with such films as ‘Barb Wire’, etc. The motorcycle as a totem of erotic power, combined with a beautiful woman, is a one-two punch for both filmmaker and audience, and has become an irresistibly enduring subject for films.
Alain Delon said of Marianne Faithfull: “She is a happening all to herself. She is the type of girl men fought dragons for in mythology, the type that duels have been fought over.” – from an interview with the actors on the making of The Girl On A Motorcycle in the October 1968 issue of ABC Film Review, by Philip Bradford.
Watch the full film on Cine Meccanica
Watch ‘Impatience’ on The Vintagent
Read about Anke Eve Goldmann on The Vintagent
Read ‘The Sex Machine’ on The Vintagent