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August 23, 2022

Vintage Photographs of Marianne Faithfull Driving a Harley Davidson in ‘The Girl on a Motorcycle’ (1968)

The Girl on a Motorcycle (French: La motocyclette) is a 1968 British-French erotic romantic drama film directed by Jack Cardiff, starring Alain Delon and Marianne Faithfull and featuring Roger Mutton, Marius Goring and Catherine Jourdan. The film redefined the leather jacket for motorcyclists into a catsuit that Faithfull wore in the film. The Girl on a Motorcycle was the first film to receive an X rating in the United States. Edited by Warner Brothers to get an “R” rating, the film was released as Naked Under Leather in the United States.

The film was made on locations in France, Germany, Switzerlan 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” color effects were achieved by solarizing the film during post-production.

Marianne on the film: “I made a couple of terrible movies that year. I’ll Never Forget What’s ’Isname with Oliver Reed in which, appropriately enough, I have the distinction of being the first person to say “f*ck” in a legitimate movie. And the soft porn Girl on a Motorcycle. It took three months to make. I was away a lot and Mick visited me on location in Zurich and Heidelberg and the South of France. Alain Delon was the star, and very early on in the film he tried to pull me in the same desultory way that Roy Orbison had. When I turned him down, he became very sullen and nasty and difficult. He was such a pompous ass, in any case, and every time he said that ludicrous line, ‘Your body is like a beautiful violin in a velvet case,’ while unzipping my leather suit, I would crack up. It was dozens of takes before I could do it with a straight face.”


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