Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Savage Seven

The Savage Seven
D: Richard Rush

Minor trivia: A very early role for future Laverne and later director Penny Marshall. The pic at the top of the blog page is from this movie, and she can be seen on the far left. Produced by Dick Clark

Bikers and Indians feud both with one another and their common enemy, the bossman of a company town

A bike club makes a stop in an Indian work camp/company town in the middle of nowhere. Though the club initially clashes with the Indians --especially the white-looking Johnnie (Robert Walker Jr)-- they soon find a common enemy in he boss men, Fillmore (Mel Berger) and his muscle, Taggert (Charles Bail). Further friction comes via a possible romance between the (unnamed) club's leader, Kisum (Adam Rourke) and Johnnie's sister Maria (Joanna Frank).
But the club is new in town and not exactly attached to it, and owes it no allegiance. And Fillmore is looking to drive the migrants off so he can make a profit on the land...
That's really about it for the plot, but it does move along nicely. The uneasy and fragile alliance between the bikers and the Indians is built up well, with little padding. They don't go overboard with riding scenes, and the party and fight filler is well done. A satisfying violent climax, somewhat undone by a payoff after that was pretty lacking.
No complaints about casting, except that as usual for the time, Mexican or Indian leads had to look white.
Fillmore and Taggart are appropriately hateable, and the background bikers, like the oaf Bull (Richard Anders) and Joint (Larry Bishop), who's always stoned and keeps a pot plant on his bike ("potted pot, man"), are all good.
The soundtrack is worth noting. The bulk of it is hit/miss soundtrack type music by Barbara Kelly and the Morning Good, and Iron Butterfly add five more. But the standouts, for the sake of weirdness alone, are two by Cream, though you wonder how Jack Bruce got Clapton and Baker on board. "Anyone for Tennis?" is a laid back thing with winds and lyrics that, for random stupidity, blow away even the shit about rainbows with moustaches in "Swlabr" (you can see them mime "Tennis" on a tv appearance here). "Desert Ride," which clocks in at 1:23, is their (Bruce's?) take on a standard biker movie insrto--and it's my favorite Cream song (though I'm not much of a Cream fan).
Overall, nothing special but a solid and reliable 3.

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