The Glory Stompers (22 November 1968)
American International Pictures
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
HOWARD THOMPSON | The New York Times | Published: March 28, 1968
“THE GLORY STOMPERS,” the latest little motorcycle jamboree from American International Pictures, turned up yesterday on various circuit double bills.
This one is just about rock bottom, with two gangs of filthy, lecherous young animals, the Glory Stompers and the Black Souls (all white), warring against each other, with time out for orgies.
The grim irony of this trash is the contrast of the pretty pastoral backgrounds, in color, and the hog-wild behavior, led by such people as Dennis Hopper and Jody McCrea, with Chris Noel and Sondra Gale as the main, mixed-up girls. And there appears as one of the meanest of the cyclists none other than Lindsay Crosby, the youngest of the Crosby lads.
Dennis Hopper, in full psycho mode, top-lines as Chino, the leader of a brutal biker gang known as The Black Souls. After being dissed by members of the rival Glory Stompers gang, Chino and his posse track down a Glory Stomper, Darryl (Jody McCrea) who is with his gorgeous blonde girlfriend Chris (Chris Noel). Chris is badgering Darryl to leave the biker lifestyle and do something meaningful with his life. They are interrupted by the arrival of the Black Souls, who beat Darryl mercilessly. Believing him to be dead, Chino orders the gang to kidnap Chris to prevent her from filing murder charges against them. Chino advises the group that they will transport her by bike several hundred miles into Mexico, where he has arranged to sell her into white slavery. Unbeknownst to them, however, Darryl recovers from his wounds and immediately sets out to rescue Chris. Along the way he meets a former fellow Glory Stomper, Smiley (former Tarzan star Jock Mahoney), who agrees to join the rescue effort. The eventually pick up one other ally and his girlfriend and head into Mexico in hot pursuit of the Black Souls. Biker News