The Wild One
Adapted from an actual incident and Frank Rooney’s novel, a motorcycle gang hangs out in a small town and provokes problems.
Johnny Strabler (Marlon Brando) leads a motorcycle gang into a town, and they are told to get off the track. They watch the end of a local motorcycle race and walk on the track. They make fun of the trophies, and Johnny takes one. A sheriff tells them to get going. Johnny leads them out of town, and they enter another town and get gas. They have a drag race for beers, and Art Kleiner (Will Wright) has his car smashed. The biker Crazy is injured. Johnny protests that Art is a bad driver, but Sheriff Harry Bleeker (Robert Keith) does nothing. Johnny follows Kathie Bleeker (Mary Murphy) into a café. He asks for a beer and plays the jukebox. Outside Art wants Sheriff Bleeker to do something about the damaged car. Johnny gives Kathie the trophy, but she declines it. Bikers ask Johnny if they are going to wait for Crazy or leave, and he says they will wait. Bikers follow two girls into the café. Johnny asks Kathie when she can go out. He calls her square and says they just go. Two bikers have fun with the bartender. BRMC on their jackets stands for Blind Rebels Motorcycle Club. When asked what he is rebelling against, Johnny asks what have they got. Sheriff Bleeker comes in and tells Johnny they can solve problems by talking things over, but Johnny puts him off and learns he is her father. Now Johnny wants to leave.
Another motorcycle gang led by Chino (Lee Marvin) has arrived, and he talks to Johnny, who asks for the trophy back and knocks him down. They fight. Afterward Charlie Thomas (Hugh Sanders) toots a car horn, and Chino pulls him out of the car. Sheriff Bleeker says he is going to take both in. Frank Bleeker (Ray Teal) persuades him not to arrest Charlie. The Sheriff asks Johnny to leave town, or he will arrest Chino; but Johnny refuses to make a deal. Britches (Yvonne Doughty) reminds Johnny of their past date. Kathie tells Johnny to give the stolen trophy back, and he warns her not to needle him.
In the evening some bikers are on the street and toot their horns. Johnny comes out of the café and leads them out of town. Sheriff Bleeker asks Dorothy to make a call to the next town, and bikers come in and intimidate her. Johnny and bikers take Charlie to the jail and put him in the cell with Chino. Frank Bleeker learns the phone does not work and tells Kathie to get her dad. Britches asks Johnny to talk to her and tries to revive their romance.
A locksmith gets Charlie out of the cell, and he is ready to use a gun, asking others to join him. On the street bikers surround Kathie and dance with her. She runs off, and they chase her on their bikes. As they are circling her, Johnny arrives and picks her up. He takes her out in the country. He kisses her roughly, and she says she is too tired to fight back. He says he does not want to waste his time with her. She says he is afraid of her. She says she wanted to touch him. She asks why he hates everybody. She asks him for the statue, and he sits down next to her. She cries and embraces him, but he pushes her away. She runs off, and he follows on his bike. She slaps him and sees others harrassing people. Johnny asks Chino how he got out. They take off, and some men catch Johnny alone. Kathie sees them take him away in a car. In his office Sheriff Bleeker drinks whiskey. Kathie comes in and says Charlie took Johnny. Her father asks what he can do.
Charlie and others beat up Johnny. Sheriff Bleeker and Kathie come in, and he tells them to stop. Bleeker says he is in his custody. Johnny escapes and runs off. They chase him. He makes it to his bike and stops to rest. Men run after his bike. Charlie throws a tire iron at him, and Johnny falls off his bike. The bike keeps going and hits an old man. A crowd gathers, and sheriff deputies grab Johnny. Sheriff Stew Singer says they will sort it out.
The next day they gather the bikes. Inside Charlie accuses Johnny. Sheriff Singer tells Johnny he is in trouble because a man is dead. Sheriff Bleeker wants Kathie to tell what happened. She says they beat him up. Frank and Art say someone threw a tire iron. Sheriff Singer tells Johnny he is letting him go, but he will be summoned. Johnny says nothing and goes out. Sheriff Singer tells the bikers to clear out and not come back.
Johnny comes back to the café and orders coffee. Sheriff Bleeker goes out and talks to two cops. Johnny puts the trophy on the counter and smiles at Kathie before walking out and driving off.
This realistic drama reflects rebellious youth out to get some new experiences that are different than what is normal in the society. In this case one of the older adults is a bully and incites the worst problems. The gap is not just between generations but between those who are rebelling against conformity and those who are not.