Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chrome and Hot Leather (1971)

The premise of this drive-in flick sounds like the kind of hypothetical inquiry jacked-up dudes might debate in a bar: “Who’d win in a fight, bikers or Green Berets?” Dramatizing a battle between these unlikely adversaries ensures that Chrome and Hot Leather has plenty of hand-to-hand combat, macho swaggering, and vehicular mayhem. It’s all a bit outlandish and silly, to be sure, and the plot is simultaneously lame-brained and overwrought, but there are enough biceps, chains, guns, machines, and weapons in this movie to keep any fan of tough-guy cinema happy. What’s more, the picture is decorated with a coterie of attractive ’70s starlets and a steady onslaught of hard rock. Things get started when wholesome teenagers Helen (Ann Marie) and Kathy (a young Cheryl Ladd, billed as “Cheryl Moor”), unluckily end up on a country highway at the same time as a motorcycle gang called the Devils. One of the bikers whacks the girls’ car with a chain, spooking the girls and causing them to fatally drive off a cliff. Afterward, Kathy’s fiancé, Vietnam vet Mitch (Tony Young), finds out what happened and determines to track down the gang. To aid his quest, Mitch recruits his Army buddies (one of whom is played, without much flair, by R&B legend Marvin Gaye), and the soldiers go undercover as a biker gang. Eventually, Mitch targets the Devils’ muscle-bound leader, T.J. (William Smith), gaining information about him by seducing T.J.’s main squeeze, the nubile Susan (Kathy Baumann). And so it goes—Chrome and Hot Leather never escapes the familiar routine of bar brawls, meaningless sex, and open-road riding, but the picture is so jam-packed with lurid sensations that it moves along nicely. Smith, as always, cuts a formidable figure, so he blows nearly everyone else off the screen—not the biggest accomplishment—although Baumann’s considerable physical charms make an impression. This is awfully low-rent stuff, but since that’s the point, Chrome and Hot Leather must be considered a grimy sort of success.

Chrome and Hot Leather: FUNKY

1 comment:

walkingfool said...

I thought the first 20 minutes had some nice tension and moments of flare that you wouldn't expect in an exploitation film (slow motion vertical car drop, artistic motorcycle jumping), but kinda falls flat by the end. But still a cut above most bike flicks.