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The Girl on a Motorcycle (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 20, 2012 by  



“The Girl on a Motorcycle” is a film that is sexually-charged and for its time, considered dangerous and too sexy for audiences.  But for today’s audience, one may see it more of a film that is a product of its time.  Sexual repression, masochistic and sexual urges, all coming from a single woman sporting a skintight body suit and riding a motorcycle. Overall, a titillating, psychedelic, sexual film of the late ’60s!

Images courtesy of © 1968 Mid Atlantic Film (Holdings) Ltd. All Rights Reserved. 2012 Kino Lorber, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Girl on a Motorcycle

YEAR OF RELEASE: 1968

DURATION: 88 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:66:1), Monaural, Color

COMPANY: Jezebel/Kino Lorber

RATED: R

Release Date: April 24, 2012

Directed by Jack Cardiff

Based on the novel “La Motocyclette” by Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues

Screenplay by Ronald Duncan

Adaptation by Jack Cardiff

Produced by William Sassoon

Executive Producer: Ronan O’Rahilly

Associate Producer: Sacha Kamenka

Music by Les Reed

Cinematography by Jack Cardiff and Rene Guissart Jr.

Edited by Peter Musgrave

Art Direction by Jean d’Eaubonne and Russell Hagg

Starring:

Alain Delon as Daniel

Marianne Faithfull as Rebecca

Roger Mutton as Raymond

Marius Goring as Rebecca’s Father

Catherine Jourdan as Catherin

Jean Leduc as Jean

A wildly sexy time capsule from the swinging sixties, THE GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE (1968) stars Alain Delon (Le samouraï) and Marianne Faithfull—two actors at the height of their impressive cool—as lovers with a taste for the open road.

Faithfull stars as Rebecca, a bored housewife who bolts from her home in the French countryside to visit her lover, Daniel (Delon), in Germany. Wearing nothing but a form-fitting black leather suit (the film was re-released in the U.S. as Naked Under Leather), the lusty Rebecca races across the country, and in flashback remembers the start of their affair. She recalls the initial, furtive glances in her father’s bookstore, her elaborate sexual fantasies and their long-awaited consummation. Most important of all is the motorcycle itself, a gift from Daniel that seems to give her more pleasure than any man could deliver.

Directed by legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff (The Red Shoes) in pulsating psychedelic hues, THE GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE has emerged from obscurity to become more than a cult favorite; it is a touchstone film of 1960s Euro youth culture.

Jack Cardiff, one of the world’s most talented cinematographers (“The Red Shoes”, “The African Queen”, “Pandora and the Flying Dutchmen”, “Black Narcissus”) was a multi-talented individual when it comes to cinema.  Editor, actor, visual effects and even director.

While hi films “Sons and Lovers” and mystery films “Intent to Kill” and “Web of Evidence” were successful, in the late ’60s, Cardiff would work on a British-French film titled “The Girl on a Motorcycle”, an adaptation of the novella “La Motocyclette” by Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues.

A film that would star popular French actor Alain Delon (“Le Samourai”, “Le Cercle Rouge”, “L’Eclisse”, “Rocco and His Brothers”) and singer/songwriter/actres Marianne Faithful (best known in the late ’60s as being the girlfriend of the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and her wild lifestyle).

While the film would feature Alain Delon as a headliner, the film is mostly connected to Marianne Faithful, as the film would be known for the skin tight body suit that she wore in the film, and heighten her popularity as a sexy, wild diva.

And now “The Girl on a Motorcycle” receives its HD release on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber as part of their “Jezebel” line.

“The Girl on a Motorcycle” is about a young woman named Rebecca (played by Marianne Faithfull).  A young woman who recently married a school teacher named Raymond (played by Roger Mutton).

One night, while the newlyweds are sleeping, Rebecca starts to have sexual, masochistic dreams of a man named Daniel (played by Alain Delon).   She dreams of Daniel whipping her at a circus and each whip, an article of clothing is removed to later reveal her naked body.

Excited and turned on by her dream, she looks at her husband and decides to leave him.  She takes nothing but her keys and wearing nothing but her biking clothing…a skin tight body suit and boots and she looks at her motorcycle almost like a sexual object.

She then drives off, disenchanted by her life, the city she lives in and most of all her life with her husband Raymond.  And while riding her motorcycle, she leaves the country to ride towards Germany but during her adventures, we learn why Rebecca is disenchanted with life.

We learn that her husband Raymond is a goodie two shoes.  Never argues, never demands anything, despite Rebecca wanting him to be more authoritative towards her.   In fact, he’s too much of a nice guy that his students mock him during class.

As Rebecca explores her past and how she dated Raymond, we learn how she met Daniel at her father’s bookstore, three weeks before she was to marry.  She meets him again, while she, Raymond and her friends were at a ski trip.

One night, as she was expecting to make love to her boyfriend Raymond, Raymond comes to her room but doesn’t make a move on her.  She realizes that he is too much of a nice guy, but she wants to live a bit dangerously.  That same night, Daniel crawls up the window to her room and immediately starts to have sex with her and she doesn’t fight it.  She likes Daniel’s style of living dangerously.

And sure enough, during the time she was engaged with Raymond, Daniel and Rebecca were making mad passionate love, while he taught her the thrill of riding a motorcycle and the risks.  The two would have sex anywhere they wanted and both lived dangerously, with no attachments.

But although it’s what she loves, dreams about and is constantly needing, she can’t get that same treatment with Raymond and she starts to feel it’s the city and those around her.  Everything seems dreary and nothing like Daniel.

The more she the urge for having sex with Daniel, it starts to consume every thought.  How will this affect Rebecca?

VIDEO:

Jack Cardiff is known for his use of color, especially for Technicolor films and experimentation of film throughout his career.  With “The Girl on a Motorcycle”, Jack Cardiff was not only the director but also the cinematographer and there is no doubt that this film was a sign of the times, in this case…the hippie driven late ’60s.  While I’m not sure if Cardiff partaken in any of the drugs that ran rampant at the time, there is no doubt that he was in touch with the psychedelic colors and wild cinematography experimented with at the time.

Suffice to say, “The Girl on a Motorcycle” can be described in one word… “Trippy”.  From intriguing color selections and colors, I have no doubt if this film was a cult-classic among those who experimented with narcotics (similar to how Disney’s “Fantasia” was a popular among LSD and acid-freaks at the time).  And these “trippy” images are a product of Rebecca’s wild dreams and thoughts of her being seduced or sexually ravaged by Daniel.

As for video quality, Kino Lorber is known for not messing around with original negative and going through expensive restoration.  The film’s grain is quite evident, there are some specks but no doubt this film is probably the definitive version to own of the film at this time due to it being in HD and having better clarity.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Girl on the Motorcycle” is presented in monaural but via a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track.  While much better than a straight on monaural track from the center channel, the film does sport a soundtrack with music of the time and also clear dialogue.  As well as emphasizing the motorcycle sounds as well.  While not immersive, it’s pretty much on spot with a lot of the audio of films of that era, but sounds much better in lossless.

Unfortunately, there are no subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Girl on a Motorcycle” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – An audio commentary featuring the late Jack Cardiff.  Jack talks about the making of “The Girl on the Motorcycle” and also the cinematography choices he made during the film.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (:50) The theatrical trailer for “The Girl on a Motorcycle”.
  • Gallery – Featuring nearly two dozen stills and posters from “The Girl on a Motorcycle”.

“The Girl on a Motorcycle” is a fascinating film that was no doubt a sign of the time.  During the hippie era, where sexual exploration was the norm, Marianne Faithfull was truly a sex symbol of the time and also a product of that group of people who loved having sex.

Faithfull was never shy about talking about this, similar to her character Rebecca, Faithfull left her husband and made it a goal to have sexual relations with a Rolling Stone member and in fact, she had sexual relations with three of them and ended up choosing Mick Jagger.

While Faithfull is no doubt a sexy symbol and the strong sexual urges that she has within the entire film is the primary part of the storyline, Faithfull is probably one of those actresses that many loved to look at and not too concerned of how she acted.  Based on her acting in this film, suffice to say, it wasn’t that good.  But it’s almost compared to a lot of sex symbols on films today, does anyone really watch them on film for their acting?

If anything, watching Faithfull daydream on her motorcycle while getting turned on by her sexual thoughts of Daniel, you wonder if this is a dreamstate (because the last thing anyone wants to do is daydream for long stretches of time while riding quickly on a highway).

But “The Girl on a Motorcycle” was not exactly a film that was going to celebrate Marianne Faithfull’s acting, it was a film showcasing her sexiness.  It was a film that would showcase Alain Delon, not as a gun toting action star but a man who lived dangerously by showing Rebecca pleasures that she had never known.  And of course, that is where director and cinematographer Jack Cardiff comes in, to work his magic in making sure these dreams and thoughts were wild, trippy but suitable for that era in time.  And who best to experiment on psychedelic colors and dreams than Jack Cardiff.

While the film is not great by any means, it is a fascinating film about sexuality in the late ’60s and this is probably the best film I have seen Marianne Faithful, although I did enjoy her brief appearance on Jean-Luc Godard’s 1966 film “Made in U.S.A.” and also her appearance on the BBC series “Absolutely Fabulous”, her role in “The Girl on a Motorcycle” is primarily about her and it is no doubt a titillating film.

As for Alain Delon, he is no doubt a great actor, but compared to the many wonderful films that he starred in his entire career, this relationship between his character, Daniel and Rebecca was quite intriguing, especially compared to his other films with relationships such as “L’Eclisse” or “Le Samourai”. Also, it’s a film where Delon is not the primary character in the film.

Some people may have been turned off by this back in the ’60s, especially since Delon gets top billing but I suppose this film wanted to give Marianne Faithfull that big break as an actress.

Once again, this film could have been terrible but I feel that Jack Cardiff’s cinematography experience and editing skills made this film a bit better because of his involvement and experimentation.  It’s not a great film but it is enjoyable to a point and to tell you the truth, with all the daydreaming she goes through while riding her motorcycle, when I first watched it, all that went in my mind was…”this young woman is going to die if she doesn’t pay attention to the road”.  It’s not a a groundbreaking film, so one shouldn’t have any high hopes of expecting a deep storyline.

As for the Blu-ray release, this is the definitive version of this film to own.  The video quality is much better and as far as DVD releases, the previous version only had a trailer and stills gallery as this current Kino Lorber Blu-ray release, but it makes up for better picture quality and lossless audio.  Also, this is the full version.  A lot of nudity, sexual scenes and adult content which led to the film receiving an “X” rating for that time, is quite mild for today’s films.

Overall, “The Girl on a Motorcycle” is a film that is sexually-charged and for its time, considered dangerous and too sexy for audiences.  But for today’s audience, one may see it more of a film that is a product of its time.  Sexual repression, masochistic and sexual urges, all coming from a single woman in a skintight body suit.  If you are looking for a sexual film from the late ’60s, “The Girl on a Motorcycle” is for you!

 

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