Monday, December 5, 2011

On Any Sunday - The Movie

While cruising Facebook last Saturday night, came across a posted link to the entire 1971 Bruce Brown classic, "On Any Sunday". I've seen this film a few times, but the last was easily over 10 years ago. I clicked the link, intention of watching for a few minutes. An hour and twenty eight minutes later, watched the entire deal via YouTube and enjoyed every second of it. Being from that motorcycle era - well, maybe just a tad later - the film pushes all my old school buttons. It's now pretty dated, but still the best motorcycle documentary ever filmed. Hands down. Thanks to Bruce Brown, who's also responsible for the surfing classic, "The Endless Summer".

This film could never be recreated today for many reasons. First, films from the '70s have that specific look and feel to 'em. A softer, more muted colorful look; I'm sure due to the type of film used during the era. Everything also moves at a slower pace, the camera shots and dialog. Film critic I'm not, but check out some films from the '70 and you'll see what I'm babbling about.

Second, during the '70s, a dirt bike boom hit the U.S. Mini bikes, mini cycles, and dirt bikes were everywhere. The sport of motocross was gaining popularity, along with observed trials and other events. Many manufactures were involved with a huge selection of various dirt motorcycles available. Land access and environmental issues were yet to exist. Plenty of areas existed to play ride, practice motocross, and get out with your friends. For better or worse, that scene is long gone.

The whole overall tone to "On Any Sunday" is about having fun and getting yourself out there - not watching other people ride - the film itself giving you the itch to ride. And many did just that, including myself and a bunch of friends during that era. In my case, not directly from the film - was already involved with dirt bikes - prior to originally seeing it. Still, once viewed, nodding my head in approval the whole time with a smile on my face.

If this film were recreated today - caution, old guy cranky alert - it would probably involve tattooed freestyle motocrossers back flipping over 60 foot jumps, to a death metal or rap soundtrack, complete with fast MTV style clips. The intent being how insane these guys are, while the audience munches on a barrel sized portion of popcorn, complete with two gallon sized soda. The message wouldn't be to get out there yourself. Or maybe I'm just biased or been around the block too many times. Old cranky guy alert over, we now return to our regular programming.

In any case, we still have the original film to inspire and show us a good time. Since I'm a motorcycle guy (though on a few year hiatus) and bicycle guy, viewing the film - reminded me how mountain biking fits the vibe of this film. The final scene of Steve McQueen, Malcom Smith, and Mert Lawwill riding and sliding around the beach, laughing and just having a great time riding together - it's the same for me now getting some pals out for a mountain bike ride.

My '70s memories of dirt biking and racing motocross can't be replaced. However, I now have decades of mountain biking memories piled on top of that. Two wheels in any form is always a good thing.

Click here for the full film on YouTube. Full movies on YouTube disappear at times, so if the link goes bad, do yourself a favor and grab via DVD rental. The film is now a classic and worth the time, no matter what your two wheeled slant may be. Check it out.

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