CYCLES SOUTH (3 WILD RIDERS) (THE GREAT AMERICAN ESCAPE)
(director/writer: Don Marshall; screenwriters: narration written by Bill Adkins, Pat McNamara & Don Marshall; cinematographer: Dick Johnson; editor: Don Marshall; music: Don Marshall; cast: Don Marshall, Vaughn Everly, Bobby Garcia; Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Don Marshall; MGM/Dal Arts; 1971)
“It’s a journey I would have no interest going on.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An amateurish filmed biker movie directed as if a home movie by one of the bikers, Don Marshall. He’s also the narrator, and offers a mostly annoying and snarky narration. But the dated male fantasy film from another era is well-photographed by Dick Johnson, as it chronicles the journey of three friends on motorcycles as they travel from Denver to Panama. The men are Don Marshall, Vaughn Everly and Bobby Garcia, who each bring along $300 for expenses, a bed roll and a change of clothes. They start from Denver in the autumn of 1971 and all have BSA 250 Starfire motorcycles. When one of them breaks down in New Mexico, they use their credit cards to trade their old big bikes in for the smaller and more efficient Kawasaki Bushwacker 175’s.
It will take them 4 months to reach the Panama Canal (a place that disappointed them because it was just a big American military base), as they pass through seven countries (USA, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama).
We follow the bikers riding over the beautiful high Colorado rough mountain terrain that’s lined with aspens, picking up on the highway a hitch-hiker and dropping him off in a primitive hippie community of about 20, who grow marijuana in the lower valley and find peace sharing with the travelers their weed and women.
Other highlights of the journey has them skiing in Taos; watching a dirt bike race in New Mexico; being entertained in a Juarez bordello; scuba diving on the Mexican shore for fish to cook on an outdoor fire; fighting a bull on a Mexican ranch; riding through the swamp in a jungle crossing in the Central American country of Nicaragua; and, feeling self-satisfied that they completed the journey in Panama as planned. It should be noted that many of the sequences were staged, like the one where they wake up in the jungle with snakes in their sleeping bags.
It’s a journey I would have no interest going on. But the boys seemed to be having a blast, and that’s good enough for me even if this is a cheesy film to dig into.
The message the adventurous fellows wish to convey is “Do it today, before you get hung up, or you’ll probably never do it at all.”
REVIEWED ON 3/5/2020 GRADE: B-