Loveless, The

In 1982, Bigelow co-wrote and co-directed (with Monty Montgomery) The Loveless, a nihilistic meditation on 1950s biker movies. Featuring Willem Dafoe in his first screen role, it's the story of a biker band invading a theme park in rural Georgia.

The film owes more to Kenneth Anger's cult movie Scorpio Rising than to the Marlon Brando vehicle, The Wild One. The Loveless is notable for its use of color and visual edge. Its evocation of tough-guy glamour, however, is stilted, regarding the past with no detachment or wit. Janet Maslin panned the movie as "a pathetic and slavish homage to the 1950s," motivated by an unmistakable longing for that era, a nostalgia reflected in "silly, lifeless posturing."

The bikers' leader, Vance (Dafoe), spends a lot of time playing with his jacket; the closest he comes to showing any emotion is when another character commits suicide. Ultimately, The Loveless showed more concern for fashion than narrative–the gang is dressed in white T-shirts and black leather, but they don't project much menace.

Along with colors and music evoking the 1950s (Robert Gordon, as one of the gang members, also provided songs), Bigelow seems to have unintentionally incorporated the era's blatant sexism. Though the gang's blonde tough (Tina L'Hotsky) talks as nastily as the men, she is basically a moll. The heroine, a pretty local girl named Telena (Marin Kanter) is also an incoherent creature who first sneers at Vance, then goes to bed with him.