Hells Angels on Wheels

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Hells Angels on Wheels
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Rush
Produced byJoe Solomon
Written by R. Wright Campbell
Starring Adam Roarke
Jack Nicholson
Sabrina Scharf
Jack Starrett
Music by Stu Phillips
Cinematography László Kovács
Edited byWilliam Martin
Fanfare Films
Distributed byU.S. Films
Release date
  • June 1967 (1967-06)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3 million (rentals) [1]

Hells Angels on Wheels is a 1967 American biker film directed by Richard Rush, and starring Adam Roarke, Jack Nicholson, and Sabrina Scharf. [2] The film tells the story of a gas-station attendant with a bad attitude who finds life more exciting after he is allowed to hang out with a chapter of the Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle club.



The Angels first take note of "Poet" (Jack Nicholson) after one of them inadvertently damages his motorcycle and breaks its headlight. Poet, with far more guts than brains, challenges the Angel that hit his motorcycle. This is an act that would traditionally result in every Angel present participating in a group beating of the attacker. "When a non-Angel hits an Angel, all Angels retaliate." But the leader of the Angels, Buddy (Adam Roarke), intervenes and tells Poet that the Angels will replace the headlight. In the meantime, he's welcome to ride with them while they take care of business—which turns out to be going to a bar and beating up the members of another club who previously beat an Angel.

Poet is told to wait outside, but ends up helping the Angels. Later that night, the Angels return the favor by hunting down and beating four sailors who beat Poet four-against-one after he parted company with the group. Poet accidentally bumps into one of the sailors and speaks rudely to him before he realizes that the sailor has three other sailors with him. The four sailors then refuse to accept his apology—but the Angels only know that four sailors beat up Poet, and he doesn't tell them how the earlier fight started. One of the sailors pulls a knife on the Angels and is then killed accidentally in the fight that follows.

Poet is allowed to ride with the Angels and is eventually elevated to "prospect" status. He is attracted to Buddy's some-time girlfriend (Sabrina Scharf) who toys with him while remaining hopelessly committed to Buddy.

Much of the story that follows consists of scenes of the Angels partying or being provoked to violence by "squares." Although the Angels are shown as being loud and generally irreverent, they are never shown starting trouble except when taking revenge on members of other motorcycle clubs, except when they run an older man in a car off the road, to his death; when they run two cops off the road when freeing their friend, arrested for that death; or when they insist on entering a bar where they are not welcome, thereby instigating a fight with locals.

Eventually, Buddy's girlfriend succeeds in provoking a confrontation between Buddy and Poet, with only one of the men surviving.

Production notes

Adam Roarke, who plays the Angels club president Buddy, starred in several other motorcycle films of the era.

Ralph 'Sonny' Barger, the president of the Oakland, California chapter of the Hells Angels, is seen in an early scene but has no spoken lines in the film. He was also credited as a consultant.

Jack Starrett appears as Sgt. Bingham. Sabrina Scharf later played the role of Sara in the film Easy Rider as one of the girls in the commune.



Hells Angels on Wheels was released in theatres on December 1, 1967. The film was released on DVD on December 30, 2003. [3]

See also

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  1. Roger Corman & Jim Jerome, How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never lost a Dime, Muller, 1990, pg 145.
  2. "Hells Angels on Wheels". Turner Classic Movies . Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  3. "Hells Angels on Wheels". Image Entertainment . Chatsworth, Los Angeles: RLJ Entertainment. ASIN   B0000E69GN . Retrieved November 9, 2016.