12/11/08

B.L.O.G Presents: CC & Company (1971)


There are some things that are indelible to an art form. For tonight's film we have several of these. First off, CC and Company is a biker movie, and for my money you can't have cult films without these gems. From the casual disaffected Johnny in The Wild One to Captain America in Easy Rider to Knightriders, She Devils on Wheels, and Stone Cold, the motorcycle has long been an integral part of cult cinema. 

Secondly we have the title and the song to which it refers. The song "C. C. Rider" or "See See Rider", or sometimes even called "Easy Rider", goes all the way back before it's first recording in 1924 by blues singer Ma Rainey. While the lyrics and the meaning to the song have been distorted over the years, the driving nature of this blues song has not. It's a tune that's been covered by everyone from Elvis, The Grateful Dead, Ray Charles and Leadbelly. (And in this flick Wayne Cochran, but more on that later.)



And you got the star athlete making his jump to the screen. It had been done before, (and if you haven't seen Joe Lewis in The Joe Lewis Story, that's a Dollar Deal waiting at a shop near you), and it'll be done many more times to varying degrees of success with everyone from Brian 'The Boz"Bosworth to Vinnie Jones. That's neither here nor there, because tonight you need to break out your long fur coat and pantyhose because Broadway Joe is layin' back on a zebra striped chopper in this one. 

"But this is Thursday" you might be saying right about now! "Bring on the B.L.O.G. girl." Well Fats Domino's version of "CC Rider" has something to say on that subject...

Well now see, C. C. Rider,
See now the moon is shining bright,
Well now see, C. C. Rider,
See now the moon is shining bright,
Just might find me that good girl
And everything would be alright.


Yes everything might well be alright if that girl happened to be tonight's B.L.O.G, Miss Ann Margaret. Now this is where you might be saying that she's no genre actress. Well what would you call a lady who starred in The Last Remake of Beau Geste, Viva Las Vegas, Bye Bye Birdie, The Cincinnati Kid, and even the evil puppet opus Magic?  Well, I think you ought to call that lady a serious B.L.O.G. 
So without further ado, cause there's already been a half ton of ado in this post, I give you the only biker gang meets motocross meets high fashion meets Captain Spaulding film ever and it's called...

CC and Company (1970) starring Joe Namath, Ann Margaret, William Smith, Jennifer Billingsley, and Sid Haig. Directed by Seymour Robbie. 

CC Ryder (Namath) is just your average easygoing biker gang member. While cruising along in the mountains with some fellow members of The Heads, Crow(Haig) and Lizard they come across the lovely Ann McCalley (Margaret) stranded by side side of the road in a broken down car. CC takes a look under the hood to see if he can help, but his friends have other ideas and try and get up close and personal with Ann. CC isn't having it though and knocks the two scum-bags around telling them, "Are you crazy you don't hit something that pretty!"

This of course does not set well with Moon (Smith) the leader of the gang, and he has serious questions about CC's loyalty to The Heads. Moon sends the gang's girls, including his own girl Pom Pom (Billingsley) to get some cash the easy way, then the gang saddles up and goes to check out a motorcycle race. They are disappointed to see it involves dirt bikes and not choppers and  bust the proceedings up. CC has his mind on other things when he sees Ann there. He find out she is a fashion designer who has made the clothes for a new Yamaha ad campaign. Thinking that Ann must like Motocross, CC gets himself a dirt bike (by stealing it, cause you can take the boy out of a gang.....) and begins to ride.

He is of course a natural and comes in third in his first race. After a very jealous Moon makes CC fork over his winnings, CC seduces Pom Pom to steal it back then takes off in the night. He shacks up with Ann and begins to live a straight life. Nice clothes, fancy food, sunbathing.  He even hopes to get a job riding professionally, but the gang track CC down and kidnap Ann. CC sets out to ride one more time to bring Ann back home no matter what the cost.

Film Facts


--This was the first feature movie for Joe Namath.


--Jennifer Billingsley appeared in Tuesday's review of The Thirsty Dead (see I told you to stay tuned.)

--Producer and writer Roger Smith was Ann Margaret's husband at the time. He produced the movie in an attempt to revive her failing domestic career. 

The Bug Speaks
CC and Company seems to want to follow in the successful footsteps of Easy Rider, but where the latter movie embraced the hippies subculture, this film is all about going mainstream. From the chopper to the dirt-bike, from the gang to Ann Margaret, from the woods to palatial living, each step that CC takes drives him further away from the underground lifestyle and more into getting a stable job, woman and home. This is a major change for a character who's first action in the film is to go into a grocery store and make a sandwich out of things as he's walking around. The dynamic of the character does kind of foretell the fall of the hippies as the '70's turned everyone from 'WE' to 'ME'.

It's kind of amazing that the character transition seemed credible. Joe Namath actually does a heck of a job as the affable biker. It's easy to see how a guy like that could fall into a gang like The Heads, and, Ann Margaret or not why he would like to get out. Joe seems very easy acting, and the character seems to fit him well. 

The real star of the film is arguably William Smith as Moon. The actor who has appeared in everything from The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Zombiegeddon, Conan the Barbarian, and Red Dawn, was great here as the overbearing leader. His quote to CC that "We got the club here, see, and you way over there." has such a perfect degree of sleazy douchbaginess that it was very easy to hate the guy, but love to see him any time he filled up the screen. 

Then there is the lovely Ann Margaret. While her acting leaves something to be desired, her appearance on screen leaves other things to be desired. Unfortunately the love scene between her and CC is so dark it could have been anyone involved, and who knows with her husband being the producer it may well have been. I've seen it said that the 29 year old actress was too old to be playing the

 innocent/sex kitten roles, but I call shenanigans. Ann was at her peak of hotness, and the late sixties styles she wears in the film really flatter her. 

Also of note is a young Sig Haig was the biker, Crow. It is always great to see Sid in any film, and this one is no exception. Also fun is an appearance by Wayne Cochran a.k.a The White Knight of Soul with a white pompadour/mullet combo and fringed red leather outfit, the performance of the title song must be seen to be believed. (Cochran on a side note wrote the song "Last Kiss" which became a hit for Pearl Jam not so many years back.)

Overall, This is by no means the greatest, or even in the top 10 greatest, biker flicks out there. However, it does hold a certain charm, mostly in the performances of Namath and Smith, as well as the beauty of Ann Margaret. Anyone who likes campy gang flicks of this era will surely enjoy, but for those looking for something better in their cinematic experience should probably just check out Peter Fonda's catalog again. 
Bug Rating

No trailer, but here's a clip....

8 comments:

  1. Holy crap! I love biker flicks--and you sold me on this one, for sure. Nice find!

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  2. This definitely sounds fun. I'll have to give it a watch.

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  3. Wow, really nice site. I loved the CC and Company write up. I saw that movie so many times as a kid and forgot about it. Thanks. I hope you will consider adding me to your blog roll, I would like to be part of your community there. I will get you up on mine and eventually make you a banner as I feel your site is informative but great looking too.

    Bill

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  4. Thanks for the comment WIlly. I will surely add you to the roll as I like your site as well. Thanks for coming by and comment any time!

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  5. What a fun movie to highlight! And I had forgotten Ann-Margret was in it. Check out this excellent photo of Ann on a chopper...is THIS from the movie?

    http://www.freemasonsrc-ny.com/ann-margret_1.jpg

    I remember, from my drive-in going childhood of the 1970s, that CC AND COMPANY was a popular second feature on many bills. It went well with a better, but more downbeat, cycle pic called ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE read about it on my blog, if you haven't seen it: http://filmicability.blogspot.com/search/label/Electra%20Glide%20in%20Blue

    Very nice site. Oh yeah...Wayne Cochran IS a weird lookin' fella, ain't he?

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  6. Dean,

    That's a great picture, but not from that movie either. I had read that Ann got lots of work as a motorcycle model after CC & Co. It's a great picture though and went right into the old hard drive.

    I checked out Electric Glide and thats a flick I've got to see. It looks great. I liked your site and I'm going to add it over on my blog roll so I can keep up with what you're doing.

    Thanks for stopping by to check me out Dean!

    PS Weird Looking hardly covers it. )

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  7. I'm a big fan of this film. Ann Mararet was a hottie!

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  8. @Jay:
    I'm a big fan too. Ann Mararet's films were amazing!Asheville Used Motorcycles

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