The Girl on a Motorcycle

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The Girl on a Motorcycle
French theatrical release poster
Directed byJack Cardiff
Produced byWilliam Sassoon
Screenplay byRonald Duncan
Gillian Freeman (thought sequences dialogue)
Story byJack Cardiff
Based onLa Motocyclette
by André Pieyre de Mandiargues[1]
StarringAlain Delon
Marianne Faithfull
Roger Mutton
Marius Goring
Music byLes Reed
CinematographyJack Cardiff
Edited byPeter Musgrave
Ares Productions
Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie
Mid-Atlantic Films
Distributed byBritish Lion Films (UK)
Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie (France)
Release date
October 1968
Running time
91 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
Box office626,331 admissions (France)[2]

The Girl on a Motorcycle (French: La motocyclette) is a 1968 British-French erotic romantic drama film starring Alain Delon and Marianne Faithfull and featuring Roger Mutton, Marius Goring and Catherine Jourdan. It was listed to compete at the 1968 Cannes Film Festival but the festival was cancelled due to the May 1968 events in France.[3] The Girl on a Motorcycle redefined the leather jacket for motorcyclists into a full body suit that Marianne Faithfull wore in the film.[4] It was the first film to receive an X rating in the United States.[5] Edited by Warner Brothers to get an "R" rating, the film was released as Naked Under Leather in the United States.


The film is set in France and Germany.

Newly married Rebecca leaves her husband Raymond's bed on her prized motorbike—her symbol of freedom and escape. During her ride to visit Daniel, her lover in Heidelberg, she indulges in psychedelic and erotic reveries as she relives her changing relationship with the two men. Her flashback scenes reveal the background story. Rebecca met Daniel while working at her father's bookshop a few weeks before her marriage to Raymond, a school teacher. Daniel gives Rebecca motorcycle driving lessons on a Norton motorbike. They quickly become lovers. Daniel gives Rebecca a Harley Davidson Electra Glide motorcycle as a wedding present, delivering it to the bookshop. Given a sense of freedom, she drives from France to Germany. In a small village bar, after having several drinks of kirsch, she decides to go back to Daniel rather than Raymond. She drives fast and recklessly, and although she wears leathers she has no helmet. Her ride to Daniel ends prematurely when she collides with a truck which swerves in front of her, throwing her into the windscreen of an oncoming car, which causes other motorists to crash, leading to a multiple vehicle fire.


Cast notes[edit]

  • Faithfull's riding double in medium to distant shots was Bill Ivy, British GP champion and former world champion motorcyclist.


The film was made on locations in France (including Haguenau), Germany (including Neulauterburg), Switzerland (including Geneva), and Belgium. The bookshop scenes were filmed at a bookshop in Geneva. In many of the scenes where Marianne Faithfull is seen driving the Harley Davidson Electra Glide motorcycle at high speeds, she was seated on the motorcycle which was attached to a platform that was being pulled by a vehicle in front of it. Many of the scenes were filmed in the English language and then again in the French language. Cardiff received extensive cooperation from the police in blocking the roads, so many scenes show only the lone motorcycle and no other vehicular traffic. The final crash scene was staged on an abandoned airstrip in England. The "psychedelic" colour effects were achieved by solarizing the film during post-production.


The film was the sixth most popular movie in general release in Britain during 1968.[6]

Home media releases[edit]

The Girl on a Motorcycle was released on VHS in 1998 and DVD in 1999 by Starz/Anchor Bay. A remastered edition on DVD and Blu-ray Disc was released in 2012 by Jezebel. Both versions contain the same film material, commentary by director Jack Cardiff, and original theatrical trailer. However, the earlier version is approximately 91 minutes long, while the later, remastered version, is approximately 88 minutes long. This time discrepancy is due to the earlier version being played back at a slightly slower speed.


  1. ^ Pieyre de Mandiargues, André (1963). La Motocyclette. Paris: Gallimard. OCLC 3565796.
  2. ^ Box Office information for film at Box Office Story
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Girl on a Motorcycle". Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  4. ^ Quilleriet, Anne-Laure. The Leather Book. New York: Assouline, 2004.
  5. ^ "'X' Marks Spot For Only 1 of 1st MPAA Group: W7 'Girl'". Daily Variety. 22 October 1968. p. 1.
  6. ^ "John Wayne-money-spinner" The Guardian (31 December 1968)

External links[edit]