The Leather Boys

"Very Good"

The Leather Boys Review


The Leather Boys is sometimes described as the quintessential British juvenile delinquency movie, a sort of Wild One with a Cockney accent, but it's something rather different and much more interesting than a "gang terrorizes town" flick. Filmed in great-looking black and white with plenty of fog and rain (it's the only way to imagine England in its early-'60s, pre-Beatles, pre-swingin' days), the movie is actually more of a melodrama about a teenage marriage gone wrong and the frustrations of a young generation looking around and seeing only more rain and more fog.

Sixteen-year-old Dot (Rita Tushingham, pretty but cursed with a Bob Hope ski-slope nose) and her slightly older boyfriend Reggie (Colin Campbell) are the happiest couple among their large biker gang, a relatively harmless group who hang around the Ace Café, admire each other's bikes, and gun off down the motorway in large packs. They all seem to have jobs, albeit crummy ones, and none seem too fixated on the future. Dot, however, is ready to tie the knot, and Reggie thinks it might be a good ol' laugh, so with the grudging approval of both sets of parents, the two are quickly married in a low-rent ceremony from which everyone departs in a double-decker London bus.

The honeymoon, however, is not as jolly. Trapped in a cramped room at a tacky seaside resort during several days of rain, Colin is content to sleep, smoke, and have sex, but Dot wants to get out, do things, meet people, have fun. She even has her prodigious bouffant dyed platinum blonde in an attempt to liven up her day. Bickering leads to drinking and fighting, and within days of their return to London, Reggie has moved out of their one-room flat and gone back to his grandmother's house, where he lived before the wedding. He's given his room there to his best friend, the easy-going Pete (Dudley Sutton), but Pete says no problem, mate, we'll share the space. They share the bed, too, but only in a platonic way.

The rest of the movie chronicles Dot's attempts to get Reggie back (one of her plans is to fake a pregnancy and then fake a miscarriage), the growing friendship between Pete and Reggie (they head to the seashore to hang out and "pick up 'birds'"), and a motorcycle rally to Edinburgh that inspires Dot and Reggie to attempt a reconciliation. While all this "kitchen sink"-style drama may sound a bit humdrum, things get very interesting very fast in the final act, when Pete starts to send subtle signals to Reggie that he's looking for more than friendship. Reggie, who's either hopelessly dense or hopelessly naïve, doesn't catch on until Pete takes him to a creepy gay pub down by the docks, where they've gone to look for a ship that can take them anywhere, as long as it's away from England. Watching Reggie's face as the he slowly realizes what's going on, and watching Pete's face as he wordlessly admits his orientation, is pure cinematic pleasure. As Reggie walks away (he's sold his bike to fund the trip), he realizes that he's lost his friend, he's lost his wife, and he won't be leaving England after all. He's nowhere.

Director Sidney J. Lurie, who's had a long but mainly B-list career, showed great promise here. His eye is unerring whether he's filming a domestic squabble in a tiny room or a bunch of motorcycles racing across a Scottish moor, and he elicits touching performances from his young cast. The dark and deprived post-war England of The Leather Boys is long gone, but it's great that this little slice of that era remains for us to see.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 108 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 8th March 1964

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Sidney J. Furie

Producer:

Starring: as Dot, as Reggie, as Pete

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.