49 Years Ago Today…
the violent biker film The Cycle Savages opened starring Bruce Dern and Melody Patterson of F Troop fame. Most fans don’t know that after playing Wrangler Jane, Melody had a brief drive-in movie career also appearing in druggie/hippie/biker flick The Angry Breed and the horror film Blood and Lace.
In The Cycle Savages, Patterson gives a convincing performance as Lea a troubled young woman trying to go straight while keeping her distance from her former biker gang. An artist and neighbor named Romko (Chris Robinson) gets on the bad side of crazed gang leader Keeg (an intense Dern) for sketching him and his outlaw bikers as they terrorized the patrons of a hamburger drive-in. Keeg is determined to retrieve Romko’s sketches because they could incriminate him and his renegade roughnecks in a white slavery operation they run. They slash Romko’s midsection and Lea is forced to keep him away from his apartment. To stall Romko, Lea allows the artist to draw her nude while the gang ransacks his pad looking for his drawings. Lea falls for Romko and they make love but when the police come to investigate his attack they reveal that Lea was a decoy for the gang and was pressured to distract him. The bikers capture Romko and torture him by squeezing his hand in a vise. A pistol-packing Lea arrives to save him but she lacks the courage to shoot anyone. As the police close in, the gun is grabbed by biker chick Sandy (Maray Ayres), who chases a fleeing Keeg and shoots him dead.
Recalling the movie in my book Drive-In Dream Girls, the late Melody Patterson remarked,
“Bruce Dern was wonderful and an absolutely an exciting actor. Chris Robinson and I had the same manager so we knew each other pretty well. I loved the director [Bill Brame] because he was an editor and knew what he was doing.
I had a better experience working on The Cycle Savages than The Angry Breed though I can’t say it was a better movie. I was in the midst of my Method acting period and it seemed like everybody was taking long pauses before saying their lines. I didn’t like doing nudity but I agreed to do a back shot and a love scene. That is when I found out that I had a curvature of the spine. My mother was on the set to make sure everything was on the up and up. It was done with the utmost care and on a closed set. What I found amusing the most was that the sketch of me drawn by Chris’ character was a lot bustier than I was.”