Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Pink Angels (1971)

I guess you could call this the greatest gay biker movie ever made, if there were any others to compare it to. Actually, no, if there were others, they'd probably be better than this one!

The Pink Angels is, I suspect, a "comedy" about a biker gang made up of six gay men, and that's the punchline right there- they're a bunch of "bananas" who look like bikers! Wh-wh-what?! And they cross-dress!! They're heading down the California coast to a cotillion ball and the locals will never know what hit them when they realize that these bikers are actually... gay bikers!! YOWZA!

The movie sort of ambles through one contrived set up to another with the punchline nearly always being that, get this! They're gay bikers! Most of the actors play mildly embarassing swishy, fey "homo" types; but the film is also really on the side of the gay bikers, who are contrasted with the square "establishment" types, and the portrayals are much more lighthearted than meanspirited. One of the gags here is that the military/square/cops hate long-haired hippie "queers"- but, in this case, they really are gay! So, given that the target audience for the film was stoned teenagers at the drive-in, it's possible that maybe some of them became more tolerant of homosexual cross-dressers after watching the film.

Of course, the problem with this type of late 60s/early 70s movie is that it looks like it was shot by people who were stoned too- there is a lot of bombastic folk-rock about America and its social ills and scenes that go nowhere, and an orgy scene in which the cameraman nearly sticks the lens up some actor's noses, and a really stereotypical military type who appears periodically, and lots of scenes that play too long and slow- so very characteristic of the era.

And then there's an ending that is suddenly very serious and tragic- in the last two minutes of the film! The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Movies reviewer admits that he had no idea how to handle it, and I'm sort of in the same boat. Is it supposed to be funny or freak us the fuck out? Unlike Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Movies, I'm going to reveal the ending, so you know if you want to watch the movie, after the trailer, (SPOILER ALERT)

Spoiler: The bikers all get lynched and murdered. The end.

It seriously comes out of nowhere, especially given the lighthearted tone of the entire rest of the movie, and reminds me a lot of "Avere Ventanni" an Italian sex romp about two girls having wacky misadventures, until they're raped and murdered in the last five minutes. That one, in fact, struck me as social reactionary bullshit- we can show all the female nudity and sex that you came to see so long as the girls get punished in the end for their behavior.

In this movie? I don't know. I think The Pink Angels is actually pretty subversive because it asks its early 70s audience to relate to heroes who are openly gay and then mourn their deaths. There's a closing montage that reminds us of their adventures and, I actually might dare to say, that we're forced to question all the fun we've had snickering at the "faggots" throughout the film, since this was what got them murdered. I prefer this interpretation to thinking the movie is showing the characters "getting what's coming to them" for their transgressions.

At least, I hope I'm right.

No comments:

Post a Comment