The Glory Stompers (1968)

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The Glory Stompers (22 November 1968)
American International Pictures

Script: James Gordon White (The Mini Skirt Mob, Hell’s Belles) and John Lawrence (The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant); direction: Anthony M. Lanza (Wild Guitar)

Girls: Chris Noel, Astrid Warner, Sondra Gayle

Boys: Dennis Hopper, Jody McCrea, Casey Kasem (The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant), Robert Tessier, Jock Mahoney, Lindsay Crosby

Music: Mike Curb

Dennis Hopper was well on his way to becoming a New Hollywood auteur when he signed on to play the leader of an outlaw biker gang in The Glory Stompers (1967), shot two years before his breakthrough as the writer-director of Easy Rider (1969). By Hopper’s own account, his micromanagement of what should have been an easy two-week shoot, his insistence on multiple retakes, and his need to oversee every aspect of his performance drove first-time director Anthony Lanza to a nervous breakdown, resulting in Hopper taking it upon himself to finish the film. Made on the heels of Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels (1966) – which had featured Hopper’s Easy Rider costar Peter Fonda – The Glory Stompers was a western retrofit for Harleys, with Hopper and his MC club kidnapping another biker’s girl, with pursuit of the bad guys (The Black Souls) by the good guys (the eponymous Stompers, fronted by Jody McCrea, son of Joel, and former movie Tarzan Jock Mahoney) stretching out over hundreds of miles of Southern California blacktop into the Mexican high desert. Writing in The New York Times in March 1968, critic Howard Thompson derided The Glory Stompers as “just about rock bottom.” Thompson’s condemnation was a veritable welcome mat for the drive-in and grindhouse trade, who turned the grimy little $100,000 programmer into a $3.5 million success. By Richard Harland Smith, Turner Classic Movies

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