The Leather Boys DVD Video Review
The Leather Boys
Director: Sidney J. Furie ("The Ipcress File")
Made in 1963
Starring: Rita Tushingham ("A Taste of Honey"), Colin Campbell, and
a young Dudley Sutton ("Tinker" from Lovejoy!)
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Even though this film is often
listed for sale on various motorcycle book and video sites, it
is not about motorcycles per se. It is, however, a surprisingly
When I bought the DVD, I had a vague notion that the film was
something about '50's British rockers hanging out on Nortons and
Triumphs at the Ace Café in London.
Well, yes, there are some great shots of very classic
motorcycles, the original Ace Café and
the look, the feel and the sounds of that era of classic
motorcycling. But the motorcycles provide only the
ambiance that serves as background support for the main themes,
and are not the featured event.
There are several factors that are necessary to make a good
film. Things like the plot, the screenplay, the direction,
the photography and the editing are among the obvious. But
one thing that is almost always present is a multi-level plot
that works on various levels and comes together in the end, and
The Leather Boys has it in spades.
On one level, it's a film about the immaturity of teens in
lower-class Britain and how they mistake lust for love and show
a stunning immaturity regarding marriage. It's also a
little bit about teen rebellion against stuffy parents, most of
whom are played as very old fogies with hardly a clue as to what
motivates the younger generation.
Colin Campbell does an excellent job as Reg, a bike-loving
mechanic who falls for Dot (Rita Tushingham) and has a
too-healthy libido. Dot quits high school and they get
married, which adds complexity to the layers with a commentary
on youth, commitment and maturity.
Dot turns out to be unsurprisingly (to us) shallow, and Reg gets
fed up and leaves to hang out with his mate Pete (excellently
played by Dudley Sutton). They end up moving in to Reg's
grandmother's house together to save money on rent. One of
the great things about the film is how it slowly becomes
apparent to both the viewer and to Reg that Pete is gay and has
fallen for Reg and considers him as his own. It's ironic
that the Dot/Reg relationship failed but the Reg/Pete
relationship seems more successful and is, in a way, a more
But as Reg realizes what's happened, he reevaluates his life and
ends up back with Dot. I think it's all done very well and
was certainly a very risqué film and
topic for the '50's. It is much more frank and
straightforward about the problems of youth and society in
general than anything that came out of Hollywood about these
topics during that era.
The Leather Boys has great shots of bikes, the Ace and the
clothing that we see today only in the pages of "Classic Bike"
magazine. As long as you realize this is not a movie about
motorcycles, but a very good film that is a social commentary, I
think you'll enjoy it. I was surprised and delighted by
this gem of a film that will unfortunately remain forever
obscure because of its title and because, ironically, it is
classified as a motorcycle movie.