Review: The Wild Ride (1960) – A Jack Nicholson Retrospective

Click here for the introduction and the first review of my Jack Nicholson Retrospective.

Only two years after The Cry Baby Killer, Jack Nicholson finally lands his first true lead role in 1960’s The Wild Ride. While his debut wasn’t much to write home about, lets see if his followup is any better.


Johnny Varron (Jack Nicholson) is a teen troublemaker, content only to drink, drive and generally cause trouble.

But Johnny’s having trouble with his best friend, Dave (Robert Bean). Apparently Nancy (Georgianna Carter), Dave’s new girlfriend, doesn’t like Johnny and is trying to get Dave to choose a better path in life.

A sort of battle of wills then commences between Johnny’s need for power/control and Dave’s desire for love and freedom. But in the end only one of them can succeed.

I’m not going to beat around the bush here people, but this move is atrocious. Calling it a film is an insult to the entire Transformers franchise. #YeahItsThatBad

You see that plot description you just read? What I wrote is 1000 times more coherent than what must have been put to paper in whatever sad excuse this film called a “script.”

While I didn’t have the greatest opinion of Nicholson’s debut, The Cry Baby Killer; the one saving grace that film had was that there were plenty of adults with acting experience. But here? With every single actor in their early twenties, it feels like I’m watching an overwrought bunch of teens perform in a school play. (EDIT: Having read the Wikipedia page it seems most of the cast really were high school drama students!)

Running only 59 minutes, struggling through each and every minute becomes a Herculean task in itself. Especially when taking into account the godawful editing which jumps randomly between scenes, making it difficult to even work out what time of day it is.

Like Cry Baby Killer, this film seems to exist mostly as a commentary on morality. A so-called warning on the dangers of drinking and other “immoral” activities. Watching a film preach at you for nearly an hour can hardly be considered the most adequate of entertainment; and I find it hard to believe that even teens of the 60s could have happily watched this mishap.

Even Nicholson himself doesn’t stand out from this catastrophe of the silver screen. While there is one tiny scene that shows a glimpse of the threat and fear that Nicholson (I assume) will show in future movies; in this he barely comes across as competent.

Considering no one else’s career survived the making of this tragic rotting carcass, it’s a borderline miracle that Nicholson ended up having the career he had.

Overall Score:


Next Time: My Review of The Broken Land (1962)

Photo Credits: Youtube, Youtube

5 Replies to “Review: The Wild Ride (1960) – A Jack Nicholson Retrospective”

    1. Haha. Yes, you’re right. My scale is just from 1-5. But I don’t use half stars either. That way it forces me to really make a decision on how good or bad a film is.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m watching as i read this article solely cause of Jack. I’m just more entertained of seeing him that young. But yes, I see Jack’s potential when I hear him deliver his lines. Acting isnt that bad, it just might sound a little strange since its 1960. But Jack, is definitely carrying this movie.

    “Here’s Johnny!”

    Liked by 1 person

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