The Wild Ride
Cast & Crew
On a back road, a motorcycle policeman chases a speeding convertible driven by brash young Johnny Varron, who races the officer then forces the motorcycle off the road and into a tree. Later at an outdoor party, the police query the young revelers and upon discovering marks on Johnny's car bumper, take him in for questioning. At the station, the police sergeant informs Johnny that the motorcycle officer is in the hospital in critical condition, but Johnny contends that there is no proof of his involvement. The sergeant tells Johnny that his long record of speeding, reckless driving and dangerous games of "chicken" indicate it is only a matter of time before he is involved in a tragedy. Later, Johnny meets with his gang to boast that his father was able to get him out of legal trouble and the group excitedly discuss a race set for later that day in which Johnny will participate. Noticing that his "number one boy" and best friend Dave is absent, Johnny finds him at home working on his car. When Dave confesses his concern over the accident with the police, Johnny dismisses the incident, claiming the officer was "chicken." Disturbed by his friend questioning his actions, Johnny is further dismayed when Dave reveals that he will be bringing his new girl friend, Nancy, to the pre-race party. Johnny warns Dave that Nancy does not fit in with their crowd and advises Dave that if she proves difficult, he must promise to "drop" her. That afternoon, Dave spends time with Nancy, who acknowledges her reluctance to attend the party, but agrees to go to placate him. On the drive, Nancy is frightened when another group member, Barney, joins them on the freeway and forces Dave into a game of chicken with an oncoming truck. Nancy's hysteria forces Dave to panic and pull off the road. At the party, Barney tells the gang about Dave's cowardly response, which surprises Johnny. When Dave and Nancy arrive, Barney taunts him and Johnny takes Dave aside to tell him that he must stop seeing the "uncool" Nancy. When Dave avoids answering, Johnny prompts Barney and another friend, Flippy, to continue deriding Dave, which soon results in a fight. When Flippy picks up a rock to strike Dave, however, Johnny intervenes and knocks him out. Angered, Dave and Nancy leave the party, but when alone together, Dave confesses that he is in a quandary over wanting to maintain his friendship with Johnny yet still date her. Nancy explains that she does not believe Johnny is capable of genuine friendship, but Dave angrily disagrees. Nancy sadly declares there is no point in their continuing to date and Dave dejectedly returns home. Later as the party breaks up, Johnny leaves to pick up Dave to go to the race, prompting Barney to complain about Johnny's favoring Dave even when he has been proven a coward. At Dave's, he and Johnny argue when Dave admits he is not going to the race as he intends to reconcile with Nancy. When Dave insists he must do what he thinks best, Johnny strikes him in frustration. Meanwhile, Barney and the others grow restless waiting for Johnny at the racetrack. Still irked by Johnny's partiality toward Dave, Barney sneaks the group into the bleachers for free, only to be criticized by Johnny when he arrives a short time later. Spotting Ann, an older married woman with whom he was briefly involved, Johnny borrows money from her and has Barney bet on him with it. When Johnny sees Nancy, who is looking for Dave, he assures her that Dave will attend the race and forces her to sit with the gang. Johnny then goes down to the track where his sponsor and mechanic criticize him for his careless tardiness. During the race, Johnny quickly takes the lead, but when he is challenged, intentionally bumps his competitor, forcing him off the track and out of the race. Despite Johnny's subsequent win, the sponsor tells him he will never back him again because of his recklessness. While collecting his winnings from the bet, Johnny learns from a policeman that the motorcycle officer involved in the earlier crash has died. Indifferent, Johnny tells the anxious Nancy that Dave is sure to meet them at their roadhouse hangout. Resentful of Johnny's smug attitude, Barney telephones Dave to tell him Johnny is flirting with Nancy. At the roadhouse, Johnny forces Nancy to dance with him and she criticizes his callous behavior during the race. When Ann shows up and asks to speak with Johnny in private, he scorns her, prompting her to slap him. Fearing a brawl, the owner of the roadhouse demands that the gang leave. In the parking lot, Johnny tells the others he intends to put a scare into Nancy and forces her into his car before speeding back to the beach where they find Dave. Incensed to see Johnny roughing Nancy up, Dave intervenes and Nancy runs off. Johnny insists that he was acting in Dave's best interest, but Dave accuses him of ruining everything and, returning to his car, races off. Johnny follows in his car, as do the others, who quickly fall behind. Desperate to get away from Johnny, Dave drives at excessive speeds, eventually losing control of his car and crashing. Horrified, Johnny rushes to the scene and finds Dave dead. The police arrive along with the others and stunned, Johnny turns himself over to them, admitting that he caused Dave's and the motorcycle policeman's deaths. As Johnny departs with the police and Nancy weeps over Dave, Barney declares himself the new head of the gang.
The film was the second starring role for Jack Nicholson. At one point in the film, a character compliments "Johnny" as being similar to "The Wild One, like Marlon Brando." The reference is to the 1953 Stanley Kramer production The Wild One starring Brando as an unrepentent motorcycle gang leader whose carelessness causes an unintentional death.
Released in United States 1960
Released in United States 1960