13 April 2020

Girl on a Motorcycle is Naked Under Leather

When we talk about mighty motorcycles in movies, it almost always leads to burly, superhero blokes and their big V-Twins. But, listen up, that is not always the case.

In 1968, an erotic romantic drama (‘erotic’ - do I have your attention?) was released featuring a very young and beautiful Marianne Faithful whose first scene in the movie involved climbing out of bed fully naked, sliding provocatively into a set of ‘catsuit’ leathers and dreaming of riding off into the sunset on her motorcycle. Do you know what bike she rode? Keep reading.

US poster 'Naked Under Leather'
Of course, that scene alone earned the movie an ‘R’ rating and sent the French Catholic clergy into paroxysms of outrage. In fact, for the US release, it had to be edited from its original ‘X’ rating. Great publicity!

The Jack Cardiff-directed, French-English production was released under several titles depending on the language. In English, the film was titled ‘The Girl on a Motorcycle’, while in French it was titled evocatively ‘La motocyclette’. The US title was the titillating, ‘Naked Under Leather’ and went some way to making up for the tamer editing.

The psychological theme behind the movie is much less controversial in today’s no-holds-barred environment, but in 1968 it was quite the sensation. A young wife (Rebecca) is drawn out of her mundane newly-married life and into a whirlwind romance with a free-spirited motorcycle-riding glamour guy. Yeah, I know.

But at least he has good taste and he gifts Rebecca a brand new Harley-Davidson Electra Glide (FLH) which features widely in subsequent scenes with Rebecca and her signature catsuit.

In 1968, the iconic Electra Glide had a price tag of US$1600 and was loaded with a 74ci Shovelhead V-Twin and could kick on to 100mph on the old scale.

As a further piece of trivia, cinematographer and director Jack Cardiff OBE worked with both Sylvester Stallone (on Rambo II) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (Conan) in his long and celebrated career.

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