The Wild Angels, The Trip

The Moviegoer

The Wild Angels and The Trip are attracting hippies in droves. Unfortunately both movies are flops on the scale of the Bible, though at least it isn't poetry they convert into soap opera. The director, Roger Corman, picked sensational topics--Hell's Angels and acid. Then he shot some film, dressed it up with a big-beat score, and prayed nobody would discover what he is: an idiot. Of course, with a couple more pictures like these, he will also be a Hollywood tycoon.

Corman does not take an ideological position towards either motorcycle rovers or LSD-trippers. Not that he's making documentaries that present good and bad aspects impartially. He expects his audience to come ready-equipped with sympathy or disapproval, and he doesn't intend to shake up those feelings. He merely adds swastikas or naked ladies to the picture when the action isn't hot. In short, he is provocative without voicing any opinions.

It is easy to label Corman a not-too-effective purveyor of hippie culture, then dismiss him. But the fact is, he's pimping for the hippies and their prurient elders. The hippies can look at Corman's motorcyclists as social outcasts who never get a chance, who always have to keep moving. They can honor Hell's Angels as champions of freedom. The elders can point to the Angels' intolerance toward anybody outside the gang, their destructiveness, their eager brutality; they won't live and let live.

The Trip drips with the same appeal to both generations. The hero gushes, I love the world including this girl I just met and slept with. The implication is that LSD makes loving easy. How nice. But, interrupts a spoil-sport, how 'bout tomorrow? Will love produced by a drug remain forever? Is embracing a non-tripping world realistic? Corman produces enough ambiguity to placate the rest of the world while he angles for a cool-world audience. He calculates the indecisiveness of his movies. A cop-out of the dirtiest kind.

As for Peter Fonda, who plays the chief tripper and head Angel: I've never been so bored watching somebody so beautiful.