The Black Rider (1954)
The Mild One
Whilst America had Marlon Brando giving us moody in motorbike movie "The Wild One" Britain had Jimmy Hanley giving us, well it certainly wasn't moody in motorbike movie "The Black Rider". In fairness whilst "The Black Rider" features motorbikes comparing it to "The Wild One" or to be honest any other motorbike movie would be wrong, well it does feature a motorbike egg and spoon race amongst other innocent things. Nope "The Black Rider" is a quick and simple crime movie where Jimmy Hanley plays a cheeky reporter on the trail of a story of smuggling.
When a local who had been drinking decides to take a short cut through the ruins of Brocham Castle he sees the Black Rider, a hooded monk on a horse which shoots fire. George's story hits the local press and gets people talking about the legend especially enthusiastic reporter Jerry Marsh (Jimmy Hanley - Gaslight) who is dating Mary (Rona Anderson - A Christmas Carol), the boss's daughter. Determined to find out the truth about this Black Rider Jerry stumbles upon a possible smuggling operation going on at Brocham Manor.
So what "The Black Rider" is technically about is Jerry uncovering a smuggling racket. We watch as he finds the story of the black rider intriguing, stakes out the Castle ruins, ends up being hit over the head by a henchman and so on till suddenly with the help of Mary he uncovers something. Now none of it is that believable and when you discover what is being smuggled you will struggle not to laugh but for its time and considering this movie is only just over 60 minutes it is enough.
That is what "The Black Rider" should be about but watching it now it is an amusing movie for many other reasons none more so than for all the motorbike scenes. It is all very gentlemanly as we watch the riders do time trials and congratulate each other in a spiffing manner when the positions are announced. And then we have the fun riding and by that I mean we not only have an egg and spoon race on bikes but also a game of chase the balloon. It has to be watched to be believed yet it is strangely entertaining for being so twee.
What is also amusing are the performance and watching the every happy chappy Jimmy Hanley as Jerry I wonder if Mike Myers partly based Austin Powers on him, there are certainly some similarities. But it is a fun performance from Hanley as it is by everyone such as Leslie Dwyer, Rona Anderson, Kenneth Connor and Lionel Jeffries. It is impossible to take any of the characters seriously and so you just end up laughing at how cheesy they now seem.
What this all boils down to is that "The Black Rider" is a bygone movie which when watched now is entertaining for being so dated. In fact I suggest that if you ever get the chance to watch it please do, not because it is good but because you will end up smiling at such things as the motorbike egg and spoon race and how nice everyone is to each other.
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