The Sweet Ride is an 1968 American counter-culture drama with a few surfer/biker exploitation film elements. It stars Tony Franciosa, Michael Sarrazin and Jacqueline Bisset in an early starring role. The film also features Bob Denver in the role of Choo-Choo, a Beatnik piano-playing draft dodger. Sarrazin and Bisset were nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer, Male and Female respectively.
The Sweet Ride was directed by Harvey Hart and written by Tom Mankiewicz, based on a 1967 novel of the same name by William Murray (d. March 2005), a native of New York City, who had moved to southern California in 1966.
The story, told in flashbacks, concerns a middle-aged tennis bum (Franciosa) who shares a beach house with Sarrazin and Denver. Their carefree life becomes complicated, and later turns tragic, after they become involved with a mysterious young woman (Bisset) and a biker gang.
The San Francisco rock and roll band Moby Grape contributed to the soundtrack, and appeared, credited, in the film, performing the song "Never Again" in a Sunset Strip nightclub called the Tarantula. Other famous Sunset Strip locations include Gazzarri's and Scandia, as well as location filming in Malibu, according to reviews of the film.
Dusty Springfield sings "Sweet Ride" over the film's opening credits.Tony Franciosa as Collie Ransom
Michael Sarrazin as Denny McGuire
Jacqueline Bisset as Vickie Cartwright
Bob Denver as Choo-Choo Burns
Michael Wilding as Mr. Cartwright
Michele Carey as Thumper Stevens
Lara Lindsay as Martha
Norma Crane as Mrs. Cartwright
Percy Rodriguez as Lieutenant Harvey Atkins
Warren Stevens as Brady Caswell
Pat Buttram as Texan
Michael Forest as Barry Green
Lloyd Gough as Parker
Stacy King as Big Jane
Corinna Tsopei as Tennis Girl
Charles Dierkop as Mr. Clean
Arthur Franz as Psychiatrist
Paul Condylis as Sergeant Soloman (uncredited)
Lou Procopio as Diablo (uncredited)
Ralph Lee as Scratch (uncredited)
Jacqueline Bisset was cast on the basis of her short appearance in Two for the Road starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney. By the time The Sweet Ride was released she had been cast in The Detective starring Frank Sinatra and Bullitt starring Steve McQueen.
Tom Mankiewicz, who wrote the screenplay, later said the problem with the film was "it tried to touch all the bases at once: drama, comedy, porn, dropouts, surfing, true love, a touch of perversion, and the general malaise of 1960s young people. Frankie and Annette it definitely wasn't."
Mankiewicz also says producer Joe Pasternak had suffered a stroke shortly before filming which impacted his effectiveness.
The score was composed, arranged and conducted by Pete Rugolo except the main title written by Lee Hazlewood and performed by Dusty Springfield with the soundtrack album released on the 20th Century Fox label.
The Allmusic review by Tony Wilds noted: "Rugolo hits many of the same areas that made several Lalo Schifrin soundtracks great, but unlike Schifrin, Rugolo lacks the killer pop instinct. It all sounds like soundtrack music (the average cut is only about two minutes long), and there's nothing here that hadn't been done better elsewhere, earlier.".
All compositions by Pete Rugolo except where noted.
Pete Rugolo - arranger, conductor
Dusty Springfield - vocals (track 1)
- "Sweet Ride (Main Title)" (Lee Hazlewood) - - 2:02
- "Vicky Meets Danny"- 2:30
- "Collier's Riff" - 1:35
- "Come Bossa With Me" - 1:53
- "Thumper" - 1:20
- "My Name Is Mr. Clean" - 2:09
- "Lost Wages Brash" - 1:50
- "Turn Me On" - 3:08
- "Sock Me Choo Choo (Sweet Ride Theme)" (Lee Hazlewood) - 1:50
- "Bedroom Time" - 3:08
- "Where's The Melody" - 1:00
- "Swing Me Lightly" - 2:31