‘The Wild One’ is a 1953 American film, considered to be the original outlaw biker film, and the first ever to examine American outlaw motorcycle gang violence. It starred Marlon Brando as Johnny Strabler, a surly, sneering and rebellious leader of a 40-man motorcycle gang, who wore the trademark black-leather jacket (with Johnny scrawled on the left chest), round dark shades, a white T-shirt, bulky aviator’s cap, skin-tight jeans, black gloves, and of course, boots. His persona would live to become a cultural icon of the 1950’s.
In actuality, the sale of black leather jackets and motorcycles reached new heights after the film’s release, and motorcycles soon became a symbol of youth rebellion. The film’s poster of Brando leaning on his motorcycle remains a best-seller to this day. The film’s screenplay was based on Frank Rooney’s short story “The Cyclists’ Raid“, which published in the January 1951 issue of Harper’s Magazine, and was anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 1952. The movie opens with a haunting narration;
It begins here for me on this road. How the whole mess happened, I don’t know. But I know it couldn’t happen again in a million years. Maybe I could have stopped it early. But once the trouble was on its way, I was just goin’ with it. Mostly, I remember the girl, I, I can’t explain it – sad chick like that. But somethin’ changed in me. She got to me. But that’s later, anyway. This is where it begins for me right on this road.
Check out the official 1953 trailer for ‘The Wild One‘ below, and tell us in the comments if you remember the film when it was first released. Can you remember the mark it made on motorcycle history and bikers in society during that time? Do you think it helped to shape the motorcycle community into what it is today? If you haven’t yet seen it, do you now plan on watching it for the first time?