Have you ever seen the movie The Wild One? A young Marlon Brando plays an "outlaw" biker named Johnny. He scoffs at trophy-winning bikers, yet goes through much of the movie clasping a stolen biker trophy in the same way that Linus clings to his blanket. Of course, Johnny could've been doing so facetiously because his character was portrayed as a misunderstood guy after all. That's how I interpreted it.
The Wild One was kinda based or somewhat inspired on an incident that took place in Hollister in 1947 over the July 4th weekend. It was a motorcycle rally that got out of hand. I would think it was a no brainer that some fights were bound to take place when 4,000 bikers rolled into town. They were there to enjoy some motorcycle races and to relax and party. Remember: It was a three-day Fourth of July weekend. The police force was few in number, but they had it under control. After all, about .02% of the attendants were arrested and charged with misdemeanors. Hullo. Nothing outlaw-ish about that.
Still, if you're a journalist, you can spin a pretty gol darn story. And, the newspaper reporters did just that. What probably made that Fourth of July incident famous was the infamous spread of staged photos in Life magazine. I'm not gonna go into the five W's of the event. You can click on these links for the history:
- Hollister Riot
- The 1947 Gypsy Tour in Hollister (You'll find links to interviews with locals who were there as well as to SF Chronicle articles.)
I have no idea what the annual event celebrates. Is it the romantic image of an outlaw biker played by Marlon Brando, the misdemeanor arrests of a bunch of bikers, or what? Could be why Hollister rarely makes any money off the hundreds of thousands of people who come into town each year for three days. Bad karma. But, suppose we were to celebrate the idea of WWII Vets letting off steam after a hard week of work, because that was what many of those 4,000 bikers were. It's a thought. Anyway, enjoy the trailer for The Wild One.