02 September 2010

Chase Scene

I ran across this video and just had to share. It's from a TV movie, The Ballad Of Andy Crocker from 1969. I remember watching it because it had motorcycles in it. The movie was pretty forgettable, although it turned out to be prescient in its main theme.

The film tells the story of a young man's struggle to reclaim his life after fighting in the Vietnam War. Written by actor Stuart Margolin, the film is notable as being one of the very first films to deal with the subject matter of Vietnam veterans "coming home". It is also noted for its unusual casting, which placed a number of noted musical artists in key acting roles.

Stuart Margolin is best known for being "shifty friend and former cellmate of Jim Rockford" ten years after this flick. We all have friends like that, and he served to remind us to always keep bail money in a safe place for when he gets us in trouble. Heh.

The last sentence in the quote explains why 'Marvin Gaye' is in the title of the clip. Posted by a fan, no doubt.

In this clip, Our Hero is making his bird after his world comes apart, and attracts the attention of a coupla motor cops who dutifully give chase. The clip is accurate in that a 500 Triumph could not outrun a Panhead on the road (a 650 woulda left 'em in the dust) and Andy wisely takes to the dirt.

The scene is hilariously inaccurate in that the motor cops fall off where motor cops, who are notoriously good riders in real life, wouldn't fall off, but the script called for it. Kudos to the stuntmen who fell off on cue right on the 'X'. Also, about 30 seconds in, there's a front wheel shot. This musta been put in by an editor who couldn't tell a Triumph from a Honda(?), or didn't have the right clip the director needed, because it's not the bike it's supposed to be. The theory is a) it's a low budget flick, and b) most people will never know the difference. Or care.

Kudos also to the sound editor, who got the exhaust sounds right. Nothing in movies galls me as much as seeing a Triumph, one of the best sounding bikes ever, going down the road sounding like a Husqvarna.

The movie is set in East Texas, but the scenery is northwest of Los Angeles and the bike has a CA license plate. I saw the movie once, forty years ago, and memory being what it is, he may have stolen the sled in California and ridden it home to Texas. Movies do this kinda shit all the time. Nothing's as funny to a resident of L.A. as seeing, say, Rockford doing a screeching turn off of Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank onto Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu when the two are thirty miles apart.

The final scene is a break point in the plot where Andy realizes the world he left a year ago is not the world to which he returned. Running outta gas is a metaphor for his hopes and dreams. I woulda just gone and got a can of gas and come back and tried it again.

Enjoy this for what it is.

Thanks to SBP519, Canada.

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