L.A. Times motorcycle reporter Susan Carpenter recently posted a story about motorcycles and scooters appearing in films. It's no accident that we see actors riding macho motorcycles or quaint scooters. A person's transportation says a lot about them, and those non-verbal cues are also exploited in films. What did it convey when The Terminator rode a Harley wearing a tough leather jacket? What do filmmakers want the audience to know about a character when he or she rides a scooter?
Let's forget about Roman Holiday for a moment as I think the science of product placement wasn't quite dialed in. And Quadrophenia is totally another ballgame...
Here are some notable films with characters riding scooters.
Saved: Patrick Fugit is the son of a Christian school principal who not only rides a skateboard, but he also has messy hair and drives a Vespa. His scooter adds another layer to his outcast nature, and gives him a cool ride to give Jenna Malone a lift. The filmmakers obviously wanted him to be both cool and on the outside.
Finch, the friend in he film's group who had more refined taste, and was a 40-year-old in a teenage body rode a scooter. Of course, he stalled it in front of his friends to their amusement. He's a quirky character who seems out of place and from another time, thus he pursues his friend's mother. I liked Finch best! Can you believe that it has been 10 years since this film debuted?
A small indie film, but with the benefit of Michael Madsen (rahr!). The film's protagonist, Vic, is a vampire trying to go clean. He enters a AA-style rehab plan where Madsen is his sponsor who teaches him how to feat on sheep instead of humans. He is sent to a small town to lay low. His sponsors tell him to blend in and not look conspicuous. Instead he shows up to his new backwater country town in a slim cut suit on a mod-style Vespa. Of course he stands out and his charm and uniqueness get him The Girl, but those qualities also make him the target of local ridicule from town jocks. In this film, the scooter was chosen to make the character standout from his rural surroundings and give him an outsider appeal. A fun independent film.
I could go on, but let's hear about your favorite scooter-riding film characters.
Blog entry soundtrack: "I Like the Rose" by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club