For everyone in my particular generation who grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, watching movies in air-conditioned theaters was a regular part of summer vacation. Summer movies were great. They were a reprieve, a respite... from the heat... and especially from my little brothers. I loved going to summer movies at Harkins Los Arcos Mall Cinema and at the
Wizards... Star Trek: The Motion Picture... Clint Eastwood in Any Which Way But Loose and Outlaw Josey Wales... Peter Sellers in The Pink Panther Strikes Again... Abrahams, Zucker & Zucker's comedic masterpiece Airplane! (for a long time my touchstone for funniest movie ever) and many, many more great movies.
"What's this movie about, Mr. Coe?" he asked.
"You've never seen it?" I replied. "Oh, man, you should watch it. It's a great film...Bruce Brown directed it... You know, the guy who made The Endless Summer? Anyway, it's about motorcycles, and Steve McQueen, and riding dirt bikes in the 1970s, back in the day. It's just an incredible film! Really beautiful. I used to own it on VHS. I've watched it a dozen times and I could easily watch it a dozen more. You should totally watch it!"
"Wow. Okay. Maybe." was about all he said.
On Any Sunday isn't a movie you can really explain well with words. It's a movie you need to watch. And not just if you like motorcycles. It's a movie you should watch if you're passionate about anything. Because it is essentially a movie about passion, about being so sold-out on something, anything, be it skiing, or tree climbing, or stamp collecting, that you've got it flowing through your veins. I don't think anyone (and I include Warren Miller in this statement) to-date has ever made a really good movie that truly expresses the passion found in any of those things. Plenty of films have touted the cool-factor of a given pursuit... the speed, the thrill, the danger... but I'm hard pressed to recall films in this genre that also succeed in conveying the abiding compulsion, the sense of pure passion, the joy that we experience when we're out doing whatever-it-is that we love.
In my opinion, Bruce Brown has succeeded at this like no one else. Twice. In 1966 he made the incredible The Endless Summer about the passion of surfing... and in 1971 he made On Any Sunday about the same thing, only about motorcycles.
Given three wishes, one of mine would be that I could make a film like this about riding bikes in the woods... or maybe skiing.
What am I talking about? See for yourself: