In 1971 a surf movie maker by the name of Bruce Brown tried his hand at making a motorcycle film. He didn’t know it at the time, but it would end up becoming one of the most important films about the vehicle, to-date.
A little background: Starting in 1954 with The Wild One, motorcyclists have been made out to be hooligans, roughnecks, and generally displeasing folk to be around for almost 20 years. Various kinds of riders knew different, but to the general populace, a motorcycle was a motorcycle was a motorcycle, and if you’re anything but the scum of the earth, you stay away from them. At least that’s what the media told ya.
Bruce Brown was going to change that. In his film “On Any Sunday”, and its follow-up, made almost 30 years later, “On Any Sunday: Revisited” he shows what kind of people really ride motorcycles. People like you and I, normal, average, regular people. Well OK, maybe not normal and average, but regular, absolutely! I fell in love with the act of riding a motorcycle all over again. It is a documentary, and “Revisited” is a documentary on the making of the documentary. Ha! Seems a bit arrogant on the surface, but if you see the film and talk with folks who saw it in theatres back in the day, you’d understand the why as well.
It’s a feel good film describing the various form of motorcycle racing in the 70’s, and my-oh-my, how the world has changed. Above all, it hammers home the point that good people ride motorcycles because its fun, fun like nothing else is. Seeing the slightly less scripted and personal side of Steve McQueen was also a treat. However, it’s a movie, and although McQueen’s presence is a bit startling (I mean who in their right mind would allow such a valuable human being to race motorcycle), the real star of the film is Malcolm Smith. If you haven’t seen the movie, you probably don’t know who Malcolm Smith is. Let me tell you who Malcolm Smith is!
Malcolm Smith is an average guy, making an average living. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was one of the fastest riders of his day, you wouldn’t give him a second thought. In “Revisited”, he says: “I know I couldn’t be a flat-track racer, but I could be an “On Any Sunday Rider”. That’s it! It’s not about having the flashiest gear, about the newest bike, the look, the reputation, the various things having a motorcycle could be about today. It’s about the fun. It’s about putting the ego at bay (if these guys even had egos), and simply enjoying life from the saddle.
As Bruce Brown, producer and narrator states: “There’s something about going riding with your friends, a sense of freedom, a feeling of joy, that really can’t be put into words, can only be fully shared by someone who’s done it.” So when you’re done riding with your buddies, pick up a copy of “On Any Sunday”, and share a brew, it will be worth every minute!