It’s fairly easy to establish when one is about to watch a 1970 motorcycle movie starring former NFL quarterback Joe Namath, that one won’t be watching anything along the likes of Shakespeare, Scorsese or even Stallone. One can only hope the film will offer a few thrills, a decent chase or two and an attractive cast. Little did I know that C.C. and Company would offer only an attractive cast but, to my great surprise, found it to be a watchable film if totally forgettable. But for 90 minutes I sat there smiling more than once.
Why? Because the film, with its story revolving around a motorcycle gang, is surprisingly light. It’s far more amusing than frightening until an unexpectedly dramatic ending that comes out of left field. It’s a piece of fluff, lightly served and easy on the stomach.
I knew from the first scene in C.C. and Company that I wasn’t going to hate it. Namath (as CC Ryder – yes, the song is played over and over again) walks into a supermarket and grabs a cart. He puts some cans in the cart so as to avoid suspicion. He pulls a knife from a package on the shelf and then proceeds to cut open a loaf of bread, a package of cheese and a package of ham to assemble a sandwich. He adds a little lettuce and tops it off with some mustard and enjoys himself a free sandwich. He then drinks a pint of milk and then ends with a package of Twinkees that he has asked the manager where to locate. He opens a box of napkins to wipe his mouth and then proceeds to return the canned items to the shelf, finishing with the purchase of a dime pack of gum.
It’s a funny, inspired moment and gave me hope that this film was not going to be just a run of the mill B motorcycle movie that drive-ins craved for back in 1970. Alas, my hopes faded. The story, or what you can call a story, is a thin one and that’s a compliment.
Namath is a member of a gang called The Heads (filmmakers weren’t exactly subtle when working on a cheap budget). The gang is filled with men and women and the one surprise is that Namath is not the leader. That honor belongs to character actor William Smith (with a face so mean he could only ever play a bad guy). Some of the gang members include character actors Sid Haig and Greg Mulavey.
Naturally Smith and Namath have a rivalry and a mutual dislike for one another. Why Namath doesn’t quit or Smith kicks him out is never addressed. Smith’s girl continually makes the moves on Namath, who never resists, and that is never addressed as well.
One day a few of the gang members come across a stranded limousine holding none other than Ann-Margret (whose husband wrote and produced the film). Sid Haig and Greg Mulavey decide to take advantage of Ann (who, by the way, looks so good she is almost worth watching this film for), who is rescued by Namath. Soon after the gang comes across a motocross race that just happens to be tied in with a fashion photo shoot. Who is the photographer? Yep it’s Ann-Margret herself.
Namath “steals” a motocross bike (actually he leaves a $5 payment in an envelope with the promise of paying off the rest when he has the money) and enters the next race. When he wins it, Smith demands Namath hand the prize winnings over to him as all money belongs to the gang. Namath complies but takes off to romance Ms. Margret (which includes a surprisingly raw and sexy love scene between the two) until the gang comes along and kidnaps her. The solution? Namath offers to race Smith in a flat track stadium. I guess that’s innocent enough seeing that today they would probably shoot one another.
Let’s be honest. This is not even Sharks vs Jets territory. This gang is a benign interpretation of a writer’s imagination. A motorcycle race? After a kidnapping?
Nevertheless it’s a motorcycle race to the finish. If Namath wins he gets Ann back and if he loses he has to pay $2,000 to Smith (which he conveniently is able to get at the last minute). I wouldn’t dare dream of revealing how it ends but I was surprised at the somewhat shocking and violent turn the race takes. It comes out of left field and doesn’t belong with the tone from the rest of the movie.
Joe Namath has a pleasant screen presence but his acting abilities are, not surprisingly, very limited. Ann-Margret looks fabulous and shows a surprising amount of herself here. William Smith is menacing to look at but acts almost as if he is Snidely Whiplash. You can’t take any of it too seriously.
On the whole C.C. and Company is a minor time waster and nothing more. It’s definitely dated and that could add some pleasure to the viewing experience by either seeing what life was like back in 1970 or remembering it.