The Wild One (1953); directed by László Benedek; pictured: Marlon Brando (as Johnny Strabler/narrator); photo: Columbia/Photofest; © Columbia Pictures

The Wild One

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Phyllis Wattis Theater

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At its first screening in 1953, against the backdrop of the traditionalist, buttoned-up Eisenhower years, The Wild One shocked its audiences with its vivid depiction of gang violence. The Wild One was inspired by an encounter between its director, László Benedek, and a real motorcycle gang in California, and is said to have created the outlaw biker film genre. The film’s hard-faced, leather-clad brooding protagonist, Johnny Strabler, as portrayed by Marlon Brando in his fifth film, became the anti-heroic symbol of rebellious youth and had widespread cultural reverberations on films and beyond. Brando’s biker getup in The Wild One rose to iconic fame through Andy Warhol’s 1963 screen portrait entitled Silver Marlon, which captures the youthful arrogance of its subject, suggestively straddling his bike, to recast him as an object of male desire.


Film Details

Director: László Benedek

Year: 1953

Running time: 79 minutes

Country: United States

Format: DCP
Print source: Criterion Pictures USA

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