The creator of the definitive bike-sport movie of all time, ‘On Any Sunday’, Bruce Brown has died aged 80 years on Sunday, 10 December 2017.
He was born on 1st December 1937 in San Francisco, California, but was raised in Southern California.
His first real film of note was ‘Endless Summer’ which captured the life-style of surfers. Brown was himself a keen board surfer. It was released in 1966 with ‘On Any Sunday’ released five years later, in 1971. The film followed many riders and motorcycle sports in the 1970 season in both the USA and Europe.
Footage of the International Six Days Trial (now ISDE) was shot at El Escorial, near Madrid, Spain and featured American, Malcolm Smith, the famous desert racer and off-road competitor who also featured in the Baja desert races in the film.
Brown was fortunate to enlist the services of Steve McQueen, a motorcycle enthusiast and racer as well as being an A-list movie star.
McQueen was the central character in the film and it showed that he wasn’t just playing at it either, which enabled him to gain even more respect in the world’s off-road motorcycling community.
But it was Brown’s talent as a movie-maker that was the real shining star. He didn’t have any formal training or education on film-making, but his slow motion filming or riders at speed was a revelation in documentary style films for the time. Brown acknowledged that his lack of formal training probably worked to his advantage as his innovative style was unconventional for the period.
It is thought that his film brought more people into motorcycle sport, not only in the USA, but anywhere the movie was screened.
Trials Guru’s John Moffat was at an early screening near Edinburgh, Scotland in 1971 aged thirteen years and said: “I was completely blown away by ‘On Any Sunday’, I had never seen anything like it previously and although by that time I had a motorcycle, it really captivated me. I remember the theme tune going through my head after watching it. In fact I can still hear it to this day, having bought a video cassette and then a DVD version of the film in more recent years. My sons have been brought up as kids watching it as infants and I believe my Grand-daughter has even been known to watch it too.”
Bernie Schreiber who featured in the remake, ‘On Any Sunday II’ said: “It is sad, I loved Bruce’s film ‘Endless Summer’. 2017 has not been a good year for legends.”
‘On Any Sunday’ covered almost every aspect of motorcycle competition from road racing, motocross, trials, enduro, dirt track, mile (long track), ice-racing and desert racing.
The soundtrack was specially scored by Dominic Frontiere, the American composer, which gave terrific atmosphere to the movie.
Photo courtesy of Cycle News, USA