The Born Losers (1967)

112 mins | Melodrama | 18 August 1967

Director:

T. C. Frank

Writer:

E. James Lloyd

Producer:

Don Henderson

Cinematographer:

Gregory Sandor

Editor:

John Winfield

Production Designer:

Rick Beck-Meyer
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HISTORY

Leading actor Tom Laughlin also served as producer, director, and writer of the film, credited under the pseudonyms “Donald Henderson,” “T. C. Frank,” and “E. James Lloyd.”
       Principal photography began 24 Oct 1966, as stated in a DV production chart published four days later. The 13 Dec 1966 LAT named Big Sur, CA, as one of the locations, with additional filming completed around the Los Angeles area. A 19 Oct 1966 Var brief claimed Bill Carey was attached to appear in an onscreen role.
       Although the 5 Jul 1967 Var alleged that The Born Losers was written “long before” the popularization of the “motorcycle melodrama,” the film was marketed to capitalize on the successful release of American International Pictures’s (AIP) The Wild Angels (1966, see entry) and Devil’s Angels (1967, see entry). On 8 Mar 1967, Var announced that the independently produced project would be acquired by AIP as a replacement for another “protest theme” film, Wild in the Streets (1968, see entry), which had been temporarily canceled. While AIP was not a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), print advertisements for The Born Losers contained the disclaimer, “Recommended for mature audiences,” which invoked a comparison to the MPAA’s official classification, “Suggested for Mature Audiences.”
       The Born Losers opened 18 Aug 1967 at the DeMille and Broadway at 47th Street theaters in New York City, and on 6 Sep 1967 at thirty Los Angeles-area theaters and drive-ins. Reviews were largely negative.
       The picture marked Tom Laughlin’s first appearance as the ...

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Leading actor Tom Laughlin also served as producer, director, and writer of the film, credited under the pseudonyms “Donald Henderson,” “T. C. Frank,” and “E. James Lloyd.”
       Principal photography began 24 Oct 1966, as stated in a DV production chart published four days later. The 13 Dec 1966 LAT named Big Sur, CA, as one of the locations, with additional filming completed around the Los Angeles area. A 19 Oct 1966 Var brief claimed Bill Carey was attached to appear in an onscreen role.
       Although the 5 Jul 1967 Var alleged that The Born Losers was written “long before” the popularization of the “motorcycle melodrama,” the film was marketed to capitalize on the successful release of American International Pictures’s (AIP) The Wild Angels (1966, see entry) and Devil’s Angels (1967, see entry). On 8 Mar 1967, Var announced that the independently produced project would be acquired by AIP as a replacement for another “protest theme” film, Wild in the Streets (1968, see entry), which had been temporarily canceled. While AIP was not a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), print advertisements for The Born Losers contained the disclaimer, “Recommended for mature audiences,” which invoked a comparison to the MPAA’s official classification, “Suggested for Mature Audiences.”
       The Born Losers opened 18 Aug 1967 at the DeMille and Broadway at 47th Street theaters in New York City, and on 6 Sep 1967 at thirty Los Angeles-area theaters and drive-ins. Reviews were largely negative.
       The picture marked Tom Laughlin’s first appearance as the character “Billy Jack,” which he later reprised in Billy Jack (1971, see entry) and The Trial of Billy Jack (1974, see entry). AIP launched a special reissue of The Born Losers shortly before The Trial of Billy Jack’s release in 1974, at which point it received an official “PG” rating from the MPAA. Promotional efforts heavily referenced the popularity of Billy Jack, prompting Laughlin to sue AIP with allegations that the company did not make it clear that the engagement was in fact a re-release of a seven-year-old film. According to a 31 May 1974 DV article, AIP was granted permission to continue running the advertisements as long as posters included the word “re-release” in the same size typeface as above-the-line credits. The 29 Jun 1974 LAT suggested that the film fared better with audiences during its second run, with earnings of $984,449 after three weeks in Michigan theaters, and more dates to be added in Los Angeles two months later.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
28 Oct 1966
p. 11
Daily Variety
6 Jul 1967
p. 3
Daily Variety
20 Feb 1974
p. 5
Los Angeles Times
13 Dec 1966
Section E, p. 20
Los Angeles Times
30 Aug 1967
Section D, p. 13
Los Angeles Times
8 Sep 1967
Section C, p. 14
Los Angeles Times
13 Aug 1971
Section F, p. 10
Los Angeles Times
28 Jun 1974
Section F, p. 24
New York Times
18 Aug 1967
p. 39
New York Times
19 Aug 1967
p. 16
Variety
19 Oct 1966
p. 62
Variety
8 Mar 1967
p. 13
Variety
5 Jul 1967
p. 22
Variety
31 May 1974
p. 1
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 August 1967
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 18 Aug 1967; Los Angeles opening: 6 Sep 1967
Production Date:
began 24 Oct 1966
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Otis Productions
12 July 1967
LP34699
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
PathéColor
Duration(in mins):
112
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

A motorcycle gang is terrorizing a California mountain town. When an innocent young man is brutally beaten, half-breed Billy Jack goes to the boy's aid but lands in jail. He vows revenge against the gang after he is released. Meanwhile, attractive teenager Vicky Barrington is kidnaped by the hoodlums and taken to their hangout, where a wild orgy involving some of the town's teenagers is in progress. Vicky escapes, but the other girls do not, and a rape scandal ensues. While the district attorney attempts to build an airtight case, gang leader Danny Carmody initiates a fear campaign to prevent anyone from testifying. Vicky, who thinks she is safe, is viciously assaulted in an isolated field by Speechless, a mute member of the gang. All victims and witnesses are intimidated as gang rule grips the town and the sheriff's efforts to maintain law and order are stymied. After Vicky is released from the hospital, Billy hides her in his mountain hideout, but they are discovered and Vicky is kidnaped again. Billy defeats gang member Gangrene in a gas station battle but is unable to beat the entire gang, so he enlists police aid to rescue Vicky. But the police are delayed, and Vicky is brutally raped by Gangrene. Forced to act on his own, Billy breaks into the hangout, lines the gang up at gunpoint, shoots Carmody dead, and forces two other members to take Vicky to the hospital. Billy is forcing the others to go outside when the police arrive. As he rides off for the hospital on his motorcycle, one of the policemen mistakes him for a fleeing hoodlum and shoots him. Though badly wounded, he makes ...

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A motorcycle gang is terrorizing a California mountain town. When an innocent young man is brutally beaten, half-breed Billy Jack goes to the boy's aid but lands in jail. He vows revenge against the gang after he is released. Meanwhile, attractive teenager Vicky Barrington is kidnaped by the hoodlums and taken to their hangout, where a wild orgy involving some of the town's teenagers is in progress. Vicky escapes, but the other girls do not, and a rape scandal ensues. While the district attorney attempts to build an airtight case, gang leader Danny Carmody initiates a fear campaign to prevent anyone from testifying. Vicky, who thinks she is safe, is viciously assaulted in an isolated field by Speechless, a mute member of the gang. All victims and witnesses are intimidated as gang rule grips the town and the sheriff's efforts to maintain law and order are stymied. After Vicky is released from the hospital, Billy hides her in his mountain hideout, but they are discovered and Vicky is kidnaped again. Billy defeats gang member Gangrene in a gas station battle but is unable to beat the entire gang, so he enlists police aid to rescue Vicky. But the police are delayed, and Vicky is brutally raped by Gangrene. Forced to act on his own, Billy breaks into the hangout, lines the gang up at gunpoint, shoots Carmody dead, and forces two other members to take Vicky to the hospital. Billy is forcing the others to go outside when the police arrive. As he rides off for the hospital on his motorcycle, one of the policemen mistakes him for a fleeing hoodlum and shoots him. Though badly wounded, he makes it to his hideout. Vicky, partially recovered, leads a helicopter rescue squad, and Billy is evacuated for medical treatment.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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