Title: Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (1991)
Directed by: Simon Wincer
Written by: Don Michael Paul
Starring: Mickey Rourke as Harley Davidson
Don Johnson as The Marlboro Man
Daniel Baldwin as Alexander
Vanessa Williams as Lulu Daniels
Tom Sizemore as Chance Wilder
Jordan Lund as ‘The Stagecoach Driver’
Tagline: “When the going gets tough…the tough take the law into their own hands”
By Rob R.
But once the ’80s bounced in, things changed. It was tough for a young lad on the scrawny side to envision himself as any particular big-screen action star. All of the big box-office heroes inflated to such bulbous sizes, there were no legal ways to replicate their physique. And besides, I really did not want the veins in my forearms to resemble garden hoses under my skin.
Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme, Bosworth. These monsters of muscle paraded across the big screen like Macy’s Day floats. And for a kid who could barely hold a tether, it was all rather disheartening. It’s not to say that I did not enjoy these films, it’s just that I could never envision that my scrawny sack of skin could ever inflate to their levels of heroics. (Sure, I had Dr. Jones and his archaeological adventures, but there were only three films of his released over the entire decade!)
These guys were loud and proud. All seething sinew and bulging biceps. Where were the svelte rebels? Where was the smoky mystique and normal physique of James Dean? The ornery playfulness of Reynolds? The normal human build of McQueen?
There was an actor emerging in this decade who seemed to rumble in like my cinematic savior. I first caught Mickey Rourke on HBO during a broadcast of Rumble Fish as the tortured Motorcycle Boy. He had but a few whispered lines, but each one mattered: “Blind terror in a fight can easily pass for courage.”
Yes, I thought. That’s me! I’m blinded by terror in fights! If he threw in a line about wetting one’s shorts, it would have fit to a ‘T.’
I loyally followed Rourke as the years progressed, though most of his films I had to sneak in late-night viewings of, like 9 ½ Weeks and Angel Heart. This was the guy responsible for the on-screen deflowering of the eldest Cosby kid! I’m sorry, but you do not get much cooler for a child of the era.
I can honestly say that I learned about international relations and poetry through his next films, Barfly, based on the life of street poet Charles Bukowski and his IRA assassin in A Prayer for the Dying. My devotion remained as his box-office dropped: the criminally underrated Homeboy (which he co-wrote, and featuring a killer Eric Clapton soundtrack), Walter Hill’s lovably grimy Johnny Handsome, the minor-but effective Desperate Hours, the sun-drenched sexcapades of Wild Orchid (OK, perhaps even I cannot defend that one, but it still convinced me to buy the sexy soundtrack in the hopes that merely playing the CD for girls might get me laid. It didn’t.).
But for many, Rourke’s big-screen kiss-off was his role in Harley Davidson and Marlboro Man, which teamed him with Sonny Crockett.. er, Don Johnson in this wildly erratic mash-up of science-fiction, western, buddy flicks and motorcycle genres.
And for all the TNT Roadhouse devotees, you can have your Zen-spouting mullet master, give me Rourke and Johnson zipping down a desert highway on a hog and roughing up a gaggle of clichés dressed as bar patrons any day. I would call this a guilty pleasure, but I don’t even feel that guilty about my love for this film.
Our featured guest: Jordan Lund: Star of stage and screens both big and small, Mr. Lund had one of the film’s most memorable lines (you’ll have to listen to the podcast to hear what that was!). Roles include such projects as Lonesome Dove, Doc Hollywood, The American President, Law and Order, Firefly, ER, and The Bucket List, among many, many others. We were very fortunate to snag Mr. Lund to join us for this episode and please visit his site, as well as go check him out on stage in California in Circus Theatricals’ presentation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, February 21 through April 26 at the Odyssey Theater in Los Angeles. (You can get tickets here.)
Mr. Lund has many a story to share about the filming of Harley Davidson, as well as reflections of some of his other memorable screen roles. Thanks, Mr. Lund, for your time and tales. We welcome you back any time you wish to join us!