A Movie A Day #77: On Any Sunday (1971, directed by Bruce Brown)

Why pay money to see CHiPs in the theaters when you can watch On Any Sunday, the greatest motorcycle movie of all time, on YouTube for free?

Directed and narrated by Bruce Brown (of Endless Summer fame), On Any Sunday is a documentary about motorcycle racing.  Brown profiles several professional racers and takes a look at the different types of racing, everything from desert racing to street racing to ice racing.  In On Any Sunday, Brown makes riding a motorcycle look just as exciting as he made surfing look in Endless Summer.  Brown’s racing footage is often amazing and left me wondering how he got some of his shots.

Throughout the documentary, Brown emphasizes both the dedication and the humanity of the racers.  The racers are seen obsessively working on their motorcycles but Brown also points out that, in order to be successful, the racers have to trust each other.  They have to know that, if they crash during the race, the other racers will be alert and quick enough to avoid running them down.

Why, Brown asks, do they do it?  Brown says that most of the racers can’t tell you why they race.  They just enjoy it.  But, with the footage Brown shows us, we can guess why they do it.  Through the use of helmet cams, Brown puts us right on the motorcycle, tearing down a track at over 100 mph and allows us to get as close as we can to feeling the thrill of the race without actually being in the race ourselves.  Brown also makes good use of slow motion to show the skill necessary to avoid crashing and he shows us enough crashes that we understand the risk that comes with racing.  Brown emphasizes that every racer crashes and that the best of them can just brush it off.

On Any Sunday was co-produced by actor and racing enthusiast Steve McQueen.  Towards the end of the documentary, McQueen is interviewed about why he races.  McQueen, a man of few words, says that he enjoys being on the track with the other racers.  They lift him up when he’s feeling down.

On Any Sunday is 46 years old but it will still make you want to get on a motorcycle and ride like a champion.

5 responses to “A Movie A Day #77: On Any Sunday (1971, directed by Bruce Brown)

  1. I’ll add a more detailed comment, if you’d like. But first I have to recover from the shock of seeing a review of one of my favorite flicks on one of my favorite review sites. Teaser: I was a pro flat-tracker back then, and in the final scenes of the film, shot at the Sacramento Mile race. How do you like me so far?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: A Movie A Day #102: Space Riders (1984, directed by Joe Massot) | Through the Shattered Lens

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