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RACING THROUGH EARLY JACK NICHOLSON FOR 'THE WILD RIDE'

A young Jack Nicholson in THE WILD RIDE Year: 1960 Rating: **1/2

Before the term Speed Kills referred to drugs it was for souped-up fast cars... There weren't any protests under the influence of psychedelia just yet; the 1950's and early 1960's were about hot rods and youth and the latter's misuse was the subject of many films, mostly cautionary tales but this one's a bit more ambiguous and peripheral...

THE WILD RIDE stars a young Jack Nicholson as Johnny Varron. He's mostly alone and, with a jovially jazzy soundtrack, every now and then grooving smoothly into a vibe-laden skeletal strut, he's cool to watch driving along a rural road, somewhere in California...

Jack Nicholson in THE WILD RIDE

Having caused the death of a cop by driving too fast, and winning at "chicken," if more money went into the already anemic budget there'd at least be some urgency involved. Especially as a cop appears at random youthful hangouts, from burger joint patios to backyard parties (to the longest scene at a lakeside rocky-terrain locale), where Johnny wastes time with his friends: who don't like him very much... but nothing really scares or matters to this kid...

The other characters matter very little, to him or the audience, but there are a few: Johnny with his put-upon, uptight crony Dave's even more uptight girlfriend, Nancy, played by conservatively cute Georgianna Carter, take up most of the dialogue, which doesn't include very much exposition since very little happens overall...

From THE WILD RIDE

Other than Johnny preparing for a big race, or breaking up with (as we never see him spending lustful time or hooking up with) a married thirty-something suburbanite, THE WILD RIDE is best known for and works best as a visual vehicle of a young Jack Nicholson at the crest of a decade under Roger Corman (LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, THE TERROR, THE RAVEN, THE ST. VALENTINE'S MASSACRE), Richard Rush (HELLS ANGELS ON WHEELS, PSYCH-OUT) or Monte Hellman's direction (BACK DOOR TO HELL, THE SHOOTING and RIDE IN THE WHIRLWIND), until accidentally "being discovered" in Dennis Hopper's EASY RIDER...

It's too bad Rush or this film's co-editor, Hellman, didn't helm this picture, that does look pretty neat as these screen captures, resembling portraits of a sparse, antique, faded-grain tinted yesteryear, proves. Just beware of a 1990's patchwork titled VELOCITY with edited-in scenes of an old Jack Nicholson imitator thinking back upon this movie's present time as a flashback.

Jack Nicholson in THE WILD RIDE as "JD" roadster Johnny Varon rousted again
Early era Jack Nicholson stars in THE WILD RIDE
Early era Jack Nicholson stars in THE WILD RIDE
Early era Jack Nicholson stars in THE WILD RIDE
Early era Jack Nicholson stars in THE WILD RIDE
Early era Jack Nicholson stars in THE WILD RIDE
Early era Jack Nicholson stars in THE WILD RIDE
Jack Nicholson THE WILD RIDE Jack Nicholson with older girlfriend Joyce (think this is Carol Bigby)
Jack Nicholson THE WILD RIDE Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson THE WILD RIDE Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson THE WILD RIDE Jack Nicholson with Robert Bean as Dave
Love the checkered flag against faded yellow w/ Jack Nicholson THE WILD RIDE Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson THE WILD RIDE Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson THE WILD RIDE Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson THE WILD RIDE Jack Nicholson with his best friend's girlfriend Georgianna Carter as Nancy
Jack Nicholson THE WILD RIDE Jack Nicholson w/ Chubbhy Humble's Pioneer Inn
Jack Nicholson THE WILD RIDE Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson was so unknown his credit's stacked with more unknowns THE WILD RIDE
Jack Nicholson in THE WILD RIDE

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