The Vintagent Classics: The films that inspired us.

THE HARD RIDE (1971)

Run Time: 1:33:00
A Bilm By: Burt Topper
Key Cast: Robert Fuller, Sherry Bain, Tony Russel

FILM MAKERS

He came home for love and peace and found another kind of war.

The Hard Ride came out at the tail end of the Biker Flick deluge, and is unique in it’s tone. A dark but sentimental tale of a fallen Vietnam soldier returned home to be laid to rest by his old biker gang. The film was written, directed, and produced by Burt Topper,  a name well known in vehicular cult cinema for producing Fireball 500 (1966), Thunder Alley (1967), Devil’s Angels (1967), and The Devil’s 8 (1969). Burt (credited as Burton Topper) also wrote The Wild Ride (1960) a juvenile delinquent hot rod film starring a young Jack Nicholson.

SUMMARY

Maybe you’ll fall in love with Baby and take up with Big Red and the guys. That’d be Groovy.

A gang rides through the desert. Swing Low Sweet Chariot plays as they roll slow towards the titles. Lenny, riding two-up on his buddy’s chopper seems wistful and far away. A moment later, at an air force base, it seems that Lenny was indeed being transported by his buddy Phil (Robert Fuller), but not on a joy ride, as in the flashback, but instead in a coffin, back from Vietnam.

Phil’s post Vietnam mission is to find Lenny’s girl Sheryl (Sherry Bain), his old gang, and Baby. Big Tom, the preacher who raised Lenny at the orphanage tells him where to find Sheryl and takes him to Baby…a long rake, springer front, triple head light knucklehead chopper. Phil hasn’t been on the anything bigger than a dirt bike in years but luckily Rev. Big Tom who’d been taking Baby out for a spin every Sunday since Lenny’s been gone sets him up. “First gear is down, the rest are up” and sends him on his way.

Phil finds Sheryl working at a roadside dive. She sees a bit of Lenny in Phil and she did always love that bike, so they hit the road together to find Big Red & Co, Lenny’s old gang who he wanted at his funeral, but not before being hassled by a bunch of bikers who recognize Lenny’s old bike…and his old lady. Out in the desert, they find Grady and his gang, who want the chopper and don’t plan on taking no for an answer. Of course, they also didn’t plan on a tough as nails marine, and Phil and Sheryl escape.

Sheryl sees a bit of Lenny in Phil and takes him to all the places they used to go, and they start to fall for each other. Of course along the way, they get hassled by the coppers, kids looking for grass, and Lenny’s old gang who wants the chopper and the chick back. The gang is after them, but they track Red to his whorehouse first, where they fight. Vietnam sounds flash during the scuffle.

No broad on Earth is worth all this trouble.

Beat up bad, Red gives in and says he can keep Sheryl. Lenny didn’t know Sheryl had been turned out while he was away, but a promise is a promise and his last wishes were that Red and the gang be at the funeral, so Phil gives Red Baby’s pink slip as a bribe to get him to come to the funeral where he promises to deliver the bike and then split town for good. A few fights, sprawling highway rides and make out scenes later, the best friend, old lady, gang, preacher, and chopper are all convened in the graveyard for the funeral, just as Lenny asked. Swing Low Sweet Chariot plays over the credits.

RELATED MEDIA

Read more at Cine Meccanica
Listen to the Soundtrack on Juke Box Meccanica


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