JD’s Biker Movie Reviews: “Run Angel Run” (1969)

By ldidsbury on

Runangelrun

JD’s Biker Movie Reviews, VOL 10

RUN ANGEL RUN

by: Jim Dugger

This month’s motion picture masterpiece is Run Angel Run. It was released in 1969. It was shot in just 13 days with a mere budget of $96,000. It was the 12th highest grossing film at the box office that year earning just over $13,000,000. Now don’t get me wrong, this one doesn’t scream Oscar or Academy Award but it’s not that bad. Trust me I’ve seen a whole lot worse.

This was Jack Starrett’s directorial debut and he had bit parts in a lot of these 60s and 70s biker films. He played the sheriff in Hells Angels on Wheels, as well as a biker in several more. William Smith plays (Angel) and this was his first starring role. (You will recognize him once he shaves his mustache off) He had a long career in TV and motion pictures, mostly in secondary roles. He was also in some biker flicks such as The Losers, Chrome and Hot leather and Angels Die Hard. Later on he teams up with director Starrett in “Nam Angels”. (Boy can’t wait to review that one) Valerie Starrett plays (Laurie) Angels stripper/prostitute girlfriend. She was married to the director at the time of this picture and is best known for playing nurse Diana Taylor from 1969-1977 on General Hospital. Dan Kemp plays (Dan Felton) the sheep farmer. He had a long career as bit actor in several movies and a long list of TV shows such as, Gunsmoke, Bonanza and Ironsides to name a few. The rest of the cast are virtually unknowns and didn’t have much of acting careers except for Lee de Broux. He plays ( Pappy) one of the motorcycle gang. He had a massive career in TV and was in everything from Gunsmoke, Magnum PI, The X-Files and all the way up to a part in 2012 of NCIS Los Angeles.

Our story starts out with Laurie on the phone with Angel who needs money to get to San Francisco and wants to start a new legit life with Laurie. (For the couple of you who actually read my articles know I like my sweater cannons and 2 minutes in we strike boobie gold.) Unfortunately that’s just one of the high points in this movie for me. Sorry back to the review. Angel has given an interview with “LIKE” magazine for $10,000 and has told all the inter-workings of his biker gang. So now the gang wants him dead. When Laurie shows up they get on his 74 Harley chopper (very cool bike by the way) and head out. But they are being hunted by the gang. Angel and Laurie get into a fight and he drops her off at the train station and leaves. The gang catches up and goes after Laurie. Having a change of heart Angel returns to save her. They speed along beside a moving train and Laurie leaps from the bike into an open boxcar. Angel speeds beside the train and jumps his bike onto the train. In the boxcar 3 hobos try to rape Laurie but Angel fights them off and throws them from the train. (There are some heavy racial tones in this scene that show the mood of the time) And the gang is still looking for them.

Meanwhile Angel and Laurie find an abandoned farmhouse that’s full of hay. Our couple contemplate there future, get stoned and take a roll in the hay. (Literally)(What respectable biker flick wouldn’t have weed smoking in it)? And the gang is still looking for them. There’s a pretty funny bar fight scene with our gang and some local town folk. (What respectable biker flick wouldn’t have drinking and a bar fight)? Our couple rents a house outside a small rural town. Angel gets a job on sheep farm. Angel and Laurie have another fight and Angel leaves only to run out of gas and return. (Our couple has this weird love/hate relationship) Oh yeah the gang is still looking for them. The film goes back and forth from mundane life with Laurie and working on the sheep farm. While we’re talking about sheep, this is the 2nd or 3rd movie with bikers and sheep. I don’t understand the sheep fetish but as a biker I’m offended by the connection. And the gang is still looking for them.

While at work Angel finds out the farmer use to race a 1917 Harley and still has it in the barn. (Very, very cool) Angel fixes it and the two begin riding together. But Angel is still struggling on his decision on going legit. Back at his house Laurie and him get into yet another fight. But now the gang is getting closer. At the local drive in, the farmer’s daughter is caught sitting on the gang leaders bike. She tells him she likes bikes and the man who works for her daddy has a real cool chopper. They go for a ride and what does every respectable motorcycle gang do, (you guessed it) make her a mama and gang rape her. The next day they drop her off at her farm. (Who says chivalry is dead) They then head for Angels place. Angel has gone to San Francisco to get his money, only to return and find Laurie beaten and raped. Outside the gang confronts him, and they try to run him down. A large fight breaks out. Meanwhile farmer Dan believes Angel is the one who raped his daughter and grabs his gun. Laurie throws the briefcase of money at the gang and yells “ take the money and leave us alone”. Angel hits one of the bikers with the briefcase and money goes everywhere. As the leader is about to kill Angel farmer Dan shoots him. The rest of the gang flees. Angel is on his knees, bloodied and beaten with his fists full of cash as Dan is pointing his gun at him, the movie ends abruptly. THE END!

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This movie wasn’t all that bad. It is full of all the stereotypes and cheesiness we come to love with 60s biker films. The directing isn’t bad and this one actually has a plot. The problem here is the director try’s way to hard to tell a story. The beginning and end are OK, but the middle is just mundane and very slow and sappy. The acting is OK, but at times William Smith just tries way to hard to be believable. The cinematography and use of flash cut editing was innovative for its time. It also made clever use of a somewhat new technic called the split screen to enhance some of the action scenes, though I found them a little distracting. Composer Stu Philips is back in this one and did a pretty good job with the music. It’s a definite flashback to the 60s, and is groovy baby. Tammy Wynette who would soon become a country music superstar sings the theme song. Everything here is bargain basement at best, but the trick here is to look past the cheapness. It tells a story that we all at some point go through in life. We all travel down the long road of life and at the fork we have to decide which fork to take. All in all this movie wasn’t that bad and was mildly enjoyable. So before you take that fork in the road give this one a try. Grab some cold beers, so friends and kick back and enjoy the ride.

Till next month,

JD

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