sat 04/12/2021

DVD: The Girl on a Motorcycle | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: The Girl on a Motorcycle

DVD: The Girl on a Motorcycle

Marianne Faithfull harnesses the sexual power of the motorbike

As Rebecca, Marianne Faithfull sizes up her wedding present in ‘The Girl on a Motorcycle’

Marianne Faithfull hasn’t got much time for her 1968 starring vehicle The Girl on a Motorcycle. In her autobiography Faithfull, she described it as “terrible…soft porn” and said of her co-star Alain Delon that he was a “pompous git". The trailer promised that while seeing it “you know the thrill of wrapping your legs around a tornado of pumping pistons”.

The Girl on a Motorcycle was ludicrous, but not as bad as all this suggests. A game attempt at a trangressive coupling of sexual abandonment with the power of the motorbike, it was awarded an “X” certificate for it’s UK release. Faithfull played Rebecca, newly married to the chump of a teacher Raymond (Roger Mutton). Weeks before the union, she encounters Daniel (a disintersted, pallid Delon) at her father’s bookshop. A motorbike-riding university professor, he hosts earnest debates with his students about the meaning of free love. He lives in Germany but had popped into France to visit the shop. Rebecca and Daniel consummate their relationship while she is on a skiing holiday with Raymond. Following the marriage she slips into a leather all-in-one and speeds off over the border on the motorbike Daniel has given her as a wedding gift to continue her relationship with him. He says “your body is like a beautiful violin in a velvet case” before tugging on her zip.

The American title was Naked Under Leather. At this point, it was public knowledge Faithfull was the women supposedly clad only in fur at the Rolling Stones’ Redlands drug bust in 1967. The sell was as much of her as the film. Having famed veteran and Oscar-winning cinematographer Jack Cardiff as its director did no harm. Although great fun in a cod-psychedelic, pseudo-meaningful way The Girl on a Motorcycle was going to win no awards. Cardiff may have had Black Narcissus, The African Queen, Pandora & the Flying Dutchman behind him, and Death on the Nile and The Dogs of War in front of him, yet this is akin to the films of continental European directors Jess Franco and Mario Bava. The source material was the racy French story La Motocyclette, but the film is coy. Nudity, such as it is, is concealed by darkness, visual effects or strategically placed plants. The film was meant to seen, not limited to adults-only cinemas. 

The image restoration on the DVD is stunning; bolder and cleaner than its last outing in 2003. This no-frills release has no booklet and only the trailer as an extra. Anyone fascinated with the era who hasn’t seen The Girl on a Motorcycle needs this.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Overleaf: Watch the trailer for The Girl on a Motorcycle

'The Girl on a Motorcycle' was a game attempt at coupling sexual abandonment with the power of the motorbike

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters