Girl on a Motorcycle (1968) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Some of the most tedious films in history are created when cinematographers decide to direct, as you know if you've seen any of Nick Roeg's films. It is possible to have a great film without great cinematography, but it is not possible to have a great film based solely upon great cinematography. See Roeg's "Walkabout" as the perfect illustration of how beautiful photographs can't guarantee a great film. 

Or see "Girl on a Motorcycle", directed by Jack Cardiff.

Cardiff was a great cinematographer. He photographed The African Queen and Black Narcissus, among other triumphs. He had less success as a director, however, and this film has nothing to recommend it except scenery.

Here's the deal on this movie - an adventurous woman is bored with her humdrum marriage to a conservative teacher in France. One morning, she gets on her motorcycle, abandons her husband, and drives to see her lover in Germany. Along the way, she passes some beautiful scenery, and contemplates her past and future. She anticipates the reunion with her lover. She dies before she gets there. 

The end


see the main commentary 

I know that sounds pretty boring, but the film is actually a lot duller than it sounds. 

For years, it was rumored that there was an x-rated cut of the film which was much wilder than the version then available on tape. The DVD has the uncut version, but don't get your hopes up. The really hard sex scenes were solarized in post-production, and they look like one of those light shows for serious acidheads, and are about as sexy as watching a lavalamp. The medium sex scenes, full nudes, were shot in virtual darkness. Among the scenes you can actually see, there is virtually nothing worth seeing. 

It's possible that the film may have some appeal to bad movie lovers, because it has a very high cheese content. You have all the chromakey motorcycle scenes in front of the moving background. You have the endless narration. You have the corny acidhead visual effects, you have Marianne Faithfull making blissed-out expressions as she drives, and oh, that dialogue:

"Your body is like a violin in a velvet case."

"Your toes are like tombstones"

My advice to you, however, is to skip it even if you love bad movies, because it just too damned tedious.

Sidebar: if you were to make a list of the worst damned movies you've ever seen, how many of them would Alain Delon be in? I'm not talking about bad movies that are fun to watch like "Hell Comes to Frogtown", but just movies that are a complete waste of your time in every way, providing no art value and no entertainment value of any kind. Delon would be in at least three from my list: this, Airport '79, and The Assassination of Trotsky. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.66:1

  • Full-length director commentary

Tuna's comments in yellow:

Girl On a Motorcycle  (1968) stars 60's rock icon and Mick Jagger crony, Marianne Faithfull, as a young woman, newly married to a teacher in France, with a lover in Heidelberg, Germany. According to the director, who fancies himself a modern James Joyce, the film is a stream of consciousness by Failthfull as she rides her motorcycle to visit her lover. She never actually rode a motorcycle during the filming. Whenever her face is in frame, she is sitting on a prop, with a projection behind her of the moving countryside. She shows breasts and buns a few times, some of which are definitely hers, and possibly full-frontal, but mostly in very dark and grainy scenes. Most of the film is voice-over, flashbacks, and bizarre psychedelic effects that the director is very proud of.

I strongly suggest you pass on this one. Even if the DVD quality were at least as good as a bad VHS, the film has very little for anyone.

The Critics Vote

  • Maltin 1.5/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 3.9 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a D- (agreed by both reviewers)

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