Cast & Crew
When his black friend Lenny is killed on the battlefield in Vietnam, Marine sergeant Phil Duncan accompanies the casket to Lenny's home in Victorville, California, where the burial is to take place. Phil is met by Father Tom, the kindly pastor who took an in interest Lenny when he was a boy at the orphanage, and who eventually became his close friend. Tom hands Phil a letter from Lenny, bequeathing Phil his beloved motorcycle "Baby," and asking him to make sure that Big Red and his biker gang attend the funeral. The letter suggests that Phil seek out Sheryl, who works at the nearby Mom's restaurant, for help in finding Big Red. After picking up Baby from the mechanic, Phil rides to Mom's, and when Sheryl sees the bike without Lenny, she realizes that he has been killed and begins to cry. When Ralls and another biker, members of an outlaw gang headed by Grady, see Baby parked outside Mom's, they stop, and Phil naively asks them to help him find Red. Ralls agrees, and leads Phil to the gang's camp in the desert, where Grady claims that he is Red. When Grady fails to recognize Baby's name, however, Phil realizes that he is lying and turns to leave. Threatening Phil with his switchblade, Grady orders him to sign over Baby to him, but Phil grabs the knife and takes Grady hostage. At knifepoint, Phil forces Grady to drive him out of camp and instruct the gang not to follow. Some distance from the camp, Phil tells Grady to get off the bike, leaving him stranded in the middle of the road. Phil then rides back to Mom's, where the owner, Mike, tells him that he can find Sheryl at her apartment. Phil goes there, but Sheryl, who has developed a hardened shell to cope with the scorn she has experienced for dating a black man, shuns Phil. When Phil convinces Sheryl that he harbors no racism, she begrudgingly lets him sleep on her couch and the next morning, gives him some of Lenny's clothes so that he can change out of his Marine uniform. They then ride off on Baby to find Red, stopping at the Orge Bar along the way. There Al, the bartender, tells them that Red stopped in the night before and said he was on his way to Downey, where his father runs a trailer park called Apache Camp. When a drunken customer at the bar begins to rant against American involvement in Vietnam, Sheryl becomes upset and runs out of the bar. She and Phil then continue riding toward Downey, and as Sheryl shows Phil the places she and Lenny once shared, she and Phil begin to fall in love. As they near Apache Camp, Sheryl admits to Phil that after Lenny left for Vietnam, she was so lonely that she became Red's girl friend, but when he insisted that she have sex with all his friends, she left him. At the trailer camp, Red's father, Little Horse, informs them that Red is at the local brothel. Sheryl stays at the camp while Phil rides into town to talk to Red. At the brothel, Red refuses to go to the funeral, telling Phil that the only reason he was friendly with Lenny was because of his attraction to Baby and Sheryl. Exasperated, Phil agrees to give Baby to Red if he will attend Lenny's funeral, and when Red consents, they decide to leave for Victorville the following morning. The next day, Phil, Red and his gang ride back to the trailer camp to pick up Sheryl. When Red begins to sexually harass Sheryl, however, Phil punches him. The ensuing fight ends with both men lying bloodied on the ground. Phil then pulls the pink slip for the bike out of his pocket and hands it to Red, who agrees to attend the funeral. After camping along the road with the gang for the night, Phil and Sheryl decide to ride on ahead to make funeral arrangements with Father Tom. Upon reaching Mom's, Phil phones Father Tom just as Grady's gang arrives at the restaurant. Grady, bent on avenging the humiliation he suffered at Phil's hands, has dispatched the gang to bring Phil back to the camp for retribution. Before driving off with Phil, the gang warns Mike that they will burn down his restaurant if he notifies the police. Desperate, Sheryl sees Red and his gang approaching in the distance and runs into the road to alert Red that Phil is in danger. Sheryl, Red and his gang then trail Grady's gang to their camp, where Red tricks Grady into bringing Phil out into the open. Red then kicks Grady, and in the ensuing fight, Phil is shot and killed. Later, as Sheryl, Red and his gang watch, Father Tom presides over Lenny and Phil's funeral, speaking beside their flag-draped coffins.
Tony De Costa
Dennis St. John
The film's working titles were Carry Me Home, Brother and Bury an Angel. Burt Topper's onscreen credit reads "written and directed by." Byron Roberts' onscreen credit reads "Associate Producer-Production Manager." "Phil Duncan's" killing is never shown onscreen, but is suggested by a jump cut from a rifle being fired during the fight between "Red's" and "Grady's" gangs, followed by a shot of "Father Tom" presiding over "Lenny's" and Phil's flag-draped coffins. Throughout the film there are several flashbacks to Vietnam and to Father Tom meeting Lenny at the orphanage.
The onscreen credits contain a copyright statement for Burwalt Productions, however, at the time of its release, The Hard Ride was not registered for copyright. On April 28, 1978, the film was registered to Burwalt Productions and assigned the number PA-13-669. The Hard Ride marked Burwalt's first, and possibly only, production. Although Hollywood Reporter production charts add singer Fabian Forte and Roy Thiel to the cast, Forte does not appear in the film and the appearance of Thiel has not been confirmed. According to Filmfacts, location filming was done in California at Carmel, the Sierra Mountians and Yosemite National Park.
Released in United States 1971
Released in United States 1971