The Girl on a Motorcycle


1h 31m 1968

Film Details

Also Known As
La motocyclette, Naked Under Leather
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Drama
Romance
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 6 Nov 1968
Production Company
Arès Productions; Mid-Atlantic Films
Distribution Company
Claridge Pictures
Country
France
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel La motocyclette by André Pieyre de Mandiargues (Paris, 1963).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m

Synopsis

After 6 weeks of marriage, Rebecca awakens early one morning and slips quietly from bed without disturbing her sleeping husband, Raymond. Donning a form-fitting, fur-lined, black leather suit, Rebecca leaves her small house in the French countryside and mounts a gleaming black motorcycle. Frustrated by her conventional husband, Rebecca plans to visit Daniel, a professor at Heidelberg, and recapture the passion of their past relationship. As the sun rises, she hurtles across the countryside recalling her affair with Daniel: their initial meeting at her father's bookstore, the time Daniel first taught her to ride a motorcycle, their clandestine rendezvous at a ski resort, their sadomasochistic lovemaking, and their eventual parting when Rebecca rejected Daniel in favor of the secure life offered by Raymond. But, inevitably, Daniel has lured Rebecca back to him by giving her a motorcycle for a wedding present. As Rebecca nears Daniel's home, her mental images of her lover, combined with her physical manipulation of her motorcycle, become increasingly erotic until, in a frenzy of passion, she loses control, sideswipes a truck, and is thrown to her death through the windshield of a passing car.

Film Details

Also Known As
La motocyclette, Naked Under Leather
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Drama
Romance
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 6 Nov 1968
Production Company
Arès Productions; Mid-Atlantic Films
Distribution Company
Claridge Pictures
Country
France
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel La motocyclette by André Pieyre de Mandiargues (Paris, 1963).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m

Articles

Girl on a Motorcycle - Marianne Faithfull & Alain Delon in GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE


When Claridge Pictures acquired Jack Cardiff's Girl on a Motorcycle (1968) for redistribution in the United States in 1970, several minutes of nudity were clipped to lower the film's rating from X to R and the rejiggered result was shipped to American cinemas under the oddly salacious (and now wholly misleading) title Naked Under Leather. Such was the tenor of the times, when countries on both sides of the Atlantic were processing with various degrees of success a natural cultural inclination towards greater permissiveness and license in the depiction of sexual situations. To adapt André Pieyre de Mandiargues' 1963 scandalous novella La Motocyclette (based on the exploits of journalist and endurance racer Anke-Eve Goldman), Cardiff and writer Ronald Duncan flensed the source material of a great deal of erotisme to avoid swamping the tale of a free spirit (Marianne Faithfull) hitting the Autobahn between her husband (the appropriately named Roger Mutton) and lover (Alain Delon, intriguingly cast as a donnish sonofabitch) with extraneous sexuality. Though the lovemaking in Girl on a Motorcycle was, by and large, sedate and romantic in nature, clearly the notion of a woman using her body for her own pleasure was even as late as 1970 a divisive storytelling tack.

Seen on its own terms more than forty years after the fact, with Faithfull's in-good-faith nudity stripped by familiarity of its initial shock value and her quest for sensual sovereignty taken as-read, Girl on a Motorcycle reveals itself to be an essential Sixties tale of personal rebellion and of the attendant risks of claiming freedom of mind and body. The tale's heroine, Rebecca (the 22 year-old Faithfull had made her feature film debut with a small role in Michael Winner's I'll Never Forget What's'isname [1967] and was best known at this point in her life and career as the girlfriend of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger) is a questioning, hungering female on par with Marion Crane from Psycho (1960) and Mary Henry from Carnival of Souls (1962), whose inner monologue (written by novelist Gilliam Freeman, and evoking the wall-to-wall narration of the old Inner Sanctum movies) paints her as repressed but possessed of a romantic and seeking nature. That Rebecca is doomed is a fait accompli but Girl on a Motorcycle is less about destination than mileage. Despite a reliance on process shots to put Faithfull at the controls, footage of Rebecca tearing up the road between France and Germany and leaning into the bends on winding mountain roads, retains the power of liberation, however the film's downbeat coda may anticipate the final frames of Easy Rider (1969), Vanishing Point (1970), and Dirty Mary Crazy Larry 1974).

This Region 1 DVD, released in partnership between Kino Lorber and Jezebel Films (one of the three subsidiary labels of The Salvation Group), presents Girl on a Motorcycle uncut, preserving its intended 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Though the film has a somewhat soft, and grainy aspect, picture and sound are appropriate and more than adequate. (One of the great rediscoveries of a new look at Girl on a Motorcycle lies in an appreciation of Les Reed's invigorating score.) Included with the film's original theatrical trailer and a gallery of stills is an archival audio commentary recorded by Jack Cardiff in the final years before his death in 2009. Cardiff discusses the film's production and problematic distribution while revealing tricks of the trade, production secrets, and on-set anecdotes... providing himself in the process as apt and gifted an historian as he was a cinematic storyteller.

For more information about Girl on a Motorcycle, visit Kino Lorber. To order Girl on a Motorcycle, go to TCM Shopping.

by Richard Harland Smith
Girl On A Motorcycle - Marianne Faithfull & Alain Delon In Girl On A Motorcycle

Girl on a Motorcycle - Marianne Faithfull & Alain Delon in GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE

When Claridge Pictures acquired Jack Cardiff's Girl on a Motorcycle (1968) for redistribution in the United States in 1970, several minutes of nudity were clipped to lower the film's rating from X to R and the rejiggered result was shipped to American cinemas under the oddly salacious (and now wholly misleading) title Naked Under Leather. Such was the tenor of the times, when countries on both sides of the Atlantic were processing with various degrees of success a natural cultural inclination towards greater permissiveness and license in the depiction of sexual situations. To adapt André Pieyre de Mandiargues' 1963 scandalous novella La Motocyclette (based on the exploits of journalist and endurance racer Anke-Eve Goldman), Cardiff and writer Ronald Duncan flensed the source material of a great deal of erotisme to avoid swamping the tale of a free spirit (Marianne Faithfull) hitting the Autobahn between her husband (the appropriately named Roger Mutton) and lover (Alain Delon, intriguingly cast as a donnish sonofabitch) with extraneous sexuality. Though the lovemaking in Girl on a Motorcycle was, by and large, sedate and romantic in nature, clearly the notion of a woman using her body for her own pleasure was even as late as 1970 a divisive storytelling tack. Seen on its own terms more than forty years after the fact, with Faithfull's in-good-faith nudity stripped by familiarity of its initial shock value and her quest for sensual sovereignty taken as-read, Girl on a Motorcycle reveals itself to be an essential Sixties tale of personal rebellion and of the attendant risks of claiming freedom of mind and body. The tale's heroine, Rebecca (the 22 year-old Faithfull had made her feature film debut with a small role in Michael Winner's I'll Never Forget What's'isname [1967] and was best known at this point in her life and career as the girlfriend of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger) is a questioning, hungering female on par with Marion Crane from Psycho (1960) and Mary Henry from Carnival of Souls (1962), whose inner monologue (written by novelist Gilliam Freeman, and evoking the wall-to-wall narration of the old Inner Sanctum movies) paints her as repressed but possessed of a romantic and seeking nature. That Rebecca is doomed is a fait accompli but Girl on a Motorcycle is less about destination than mileage. Despite a reliance on process shots to put Faithfull at the controls, footage of Rebecca tearing up the road between France and Germany and leaning into the bends on winding mountain roads, retains the power of liberation, however the film's downbeat coda may anticipate the final frames of Easy Rider (1969), Vanishing Point (1970), and Dirty Mary Crazy Larry 1974). This Region 1 DVD, released in partnership between Kino Lorber and Jezebel Films (one of the three subsidiary labels of The Salvation Group), presents Girl on a Motorcycle uncut, preserving its intended 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Though the film has a somewhat soft, and grainy aspect, picture and sound are appropriate and more than adequate. (One of the great rediscoveries of a new look at Girl on a Motorcycle lies in an appreciation of Les Reed's invigorating score.) Included with the film's original theatrical trailer and a gallery of stills is an archival audio commentary recorded by Jack Cardiff in the final years before his death in 2009. Cardiff discusses the film's production and problematic distribution while revealing tricks of the trade, production secrets, and on-set anecdotes... providing himself in the process as apt and gifted an historian as he was a cinematic storyteller. For more information about Girl on a Motorcycle, visit Kino Lorber. To order Girl on a Motorcycle, go to TCM Shopping. by Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Opened in Paris in June 1968 as La motocyclette; running time: ca95 min; released in Great Britain in October 1968 as Girl on a Motorcycle; running time: 91 min. Shortly after initial U. S. release, the film's MPAA rating was changed to "R" following the deletion of certain sequences; rereleased in this version in May 1970 as Naked Under Leather.