by Bruce Brown
Bruce Brown Films, 1971
90 Minutes, Rated G
$19.95 from Whitehorse Press
by Tammy Vrieze
Over the years many bad biker movies have been made. This movie is definitely not one of them. On Any Sunday profiles many of the top racers and enthusiasts of the early seventies in a way that’s entertaining to riders and non-riders alike. It was written and directed by the legendary Bruce Brown who is also known for his classic surfing movie, Endless Summer.
Beginning with the AMA Grand National circuit, Bruce gives us a glimpse of the many different forms of motorcycle competition. Familiar events like motocross and lesser known events like the International Six-Day Trials or the Widowmaker Hill Climb are all given their due. Motorcycles fly across the desert at breakneck speeds and hug the pavement with the grace and precision of road racing, and you feel not just like a spectator in the stands, but as if you are actually in the corner at over 100 mph. Bruce accomplishes this with stunning onboard photography and long, panoramic views.
Mert Lawwill, Gene Romero and Malcom Smith are examples of the talent showcased. Neither broken bones nor broken throttle cables prevent these racers from competing. In sawing off their casts and brushing dust from their leathers you see not only the perils of racing but also the courage and dedication of these competitors. Even the great Steve McQueen rides to an eight-place finish in the Elsinore Gran Prix with a broken foot. (An avid cyclist and Bruce’s inspiration to get into motorcycling, McQueen had part in the making the film as well as being one of the riders featured.)
Despite the cheesy soundtrack, On Any Sunday is undoubtedly the best motorcycling documentary made. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1971. A wealth of race footage and spectacular crashes scenes make this a movie you’ll want to own (lest you wind up renting it far too often). Bruce digitally re-mastered and re-released On Any Sunday in 1991 dedicating it to Steve McQueen and included a tribute to McQueen following the film.