London-born motorcycle stunt rider Eddie Kidd stars as Dave Munday, a motorcycle messenger who lives with his eccentric, tough and extremely with-it grandma (Irene Handl) in a small seaside town. Dave is bored with his job but sticks with it because of the opportunities it gives him to fantasise with his bike as a stunt rider.
One day, Dave sees a giant poster challenging all comers to beat American champion stunt rider Judas S. Chariot (Bill Mitchell) to jump the Devil’s Leap – a disused railway viaduct across the Blackwater River in Essex – and win a gold plated dream machine.
Dave rallies his friends around him at a local gig and the challenge is accepted.
Marvin Ravensdorf (Murray Salem) is the flamboyant promoter of the big biking show and gives a dazzling party at a leading hotel, at which Dave makes a spectacular entrance and busts the party wide open.
Only three riders ultimately qualify for the death leap, after a truly hair-raising and hilarious elimination contest held in a huge stadium. Judas, overweight, over-aged and over-the-top, has an exotic girlfriend called Zoro (Marella Oppenheim) whose romantic thoughts begin to turn away from Judas and towards Dave.
Dave and Judas meet at Devil’s Leap – neither having previously seen it – and are appalled at the yawning chasm confronting them. They both want to quit but the relentless Ravensdorf will have none of it. He has them trapped in water-tight contracts and they are compelled to go through with it.
Riding High is first and foremost a comedy with most of the laughs coming from Irene Handl as Gran and Murray Salem as the classic cliche of a high-powered American promoter.
The superb soundtrack features dozens of hits by artists including The Police, Madness, The Pretenders, The Boomtown Rats, Squeeze, Joe Jackson, Chic, Dire Straits, The Shadows, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gary Numan and Emerson Lake and Palmer.
Eddie Kidd was the first to clear 190 feet – over fourteen double-decker buses – and retain control of the bike. He was paralysed and suffered brain damage following an accident in 1996.
Judas S. Chariot
The Halifax Hellcat