Cycling Films Special Issue
Last updated 29th November 2002
Contributions from; Séamus King, John Jermy, gNick Green, Buzz Starkbier, Steve Brandist, Dave Larrington, Roger Lovell, Simon Thomas, Stephen Donohue, Simon Withers and Tony Farrelly.
Finnish translation courtesy of Kape.
Originally conceived as an article for issue 16 of Byke Kultuur Never . I’d assumed there’d maybe be around 10 or so films but things soon got out of hand….
So far the list neatly breaks down into three sections;
- Films in which cycling features as a core element central to theme of the film.
- Films in which cycling features for only a small portion of the film but which are notable for some reason, probably included on someone elses list of cycling movies.
The bit where the kids and the alien escape on BMX bikes in, “ET,” springs to mind as an example; cycling, in a film but that’s not what the film is about.
- Films which feature, for however short a time, recumbents. Something of a fixation of mine.
One of the problems with internet research is the possibilty of hoax. If someone claims a thing to be true it’s hard to prove otherwise. Such being the case, if I’ve not seen a film listed I have at least checked it out on more than just one website.
Lastly, if it has, “Bike Right,” next to it it’s because it has been shown at the premier cycling festival of the year, Bike Right in Wooler, Northumberland.
The 40 year old Virgin
Triplets of Belleville
Don’t forget…My two fav’s
Bike Gangs Of New York
Wind in My Soul !
Cycling Films. Main List….
- 6 Day Racer (1940’s)
A bike messenger wins the big 6-day race. Lots of 6-day footage, starring era comedian, Joey Brown.
- The Bicycle Thieves (1948) Bike Right.
Also known as, “The Bicycle Thief,” and it’s original title, “ Laudri de Bicicletta.”
The film, one of the first to be made in post-war Italy, tells the story of a mans quest to recover his stolen bicycle which he needs for his job. Ultimately depressing, the film captures perfectly the mood of it’s time.
- Jour de Fete (1949) Bike Right.
Jacques Tati plays a village postman who goes through his rounds on his bicycle — the old-fashioned way but when a travelling carnival comes to town, its proprietors show a film extolling the virtues of modern American mail delivery. Soon the townspeople start to wonder if their postman has fallen behind the times but they soon find out he still has a few tricks up his sleeve…
- A Boy, a Girl and a Bike (1949) Bike Right.
Diana Dors and Anthony Newly co-star.
Based around the hills of Hebden Bridge and focuses around a love triangle between between working class woman and man from local cycle club and a middle class motor fanatic who finds love and joys of cycling. A slim Diana Dors amusing bit when she stuffs her face in a tea-shop. Out of the rain on a ride the cyclists take a break for a smoke, ripping stuff. Jimmy Saville appears somewhere in the film as a cycling extra.
- Les Bicyclettes De Belsize (1969) Bike Right.
A ‘swinging Sixties’ film set in London (Belsize Park funnily enough). A Hampstead shop owner’s way to true love is found through his Moulton bicycle, features a hit song sung by Englebert Humperdink. Downloadble (I think)at…
- Hugo’s Magic Pump (1970’s)
Hugo is the best 6 day racer in Italy, beating everyone, incuding the Mafia’s ‘fixed’ riders. To stop losing gambling monies, the Mafia decides to wear Hugo down by throwing beautiful women at him, hoping to reduce his endurance and stamina.
- Ten Speed (1976)
Two advertising executives compete in a 400-mile bicycle race from San Francisco to Malibu.
- 20 Shades of Pink (1976)
A middle-aged house painter, going through mid-life crisis, takes up cycling for exercise and meets up with an attractive young bike racer. The painter thinks she is interested in him on a personal level when she really only wants to help him prepare for an age-group bike race. Directed by Paul Stanley, with Anne Jackson, Eli Wallach, and Keenan Wynn.
- Boy & Bicycle (1978?)
Director Ridley Scott’s first short film features his brother, Tony, playing a truant exploring the coast of North Shields on his bicycle.
- Breaking Away (1979) Bike Right.
This was Dennis Quaid’s first film but the lead character, Dave Stoller, was played by Dennis Christopher.
The film is basically about a no-hoper with a passion for Italian cyclists.
My two favourite bits in the film are;
- When Dave’s chasing down a lorry he changes from the large chainring to the small one so he can go faster!
- The bit where one of the Italians puts his pump into the Dave’s front wheel and he comes off. Best bit. Maybe I’m just not nice.
- BMX Bandits (1983)
A group of rad BMX-riding teens get involved in a madcap crime caper. Stars Nicole Kidman.
- Bicycle Symphony (1983) Shown at Spokesfest 2002 (happy now Roger?)
A nine minute short film. A conductor chains his bicycle outside the hall where he’s conducting a symphony. His bicycle gets stolen , dragged along by a lorry and used by a wide variety of people – all in time to the music.
- Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985) Bike Right.
Pee-Wee Herman at the Cement Menagerie, Branxton, Northumberland.
Paul Reubens plays the disturbingly child-like Pee-Wee Herman on his quest, through a mythical working-class America filled with truck stops, waitresses and runaway convicts, to recover his beloved stolen bicycle. Hang on! Isn’t that the plot of, “The Bicycle Thieves,”? ‘Funny’ film much appreciated by cycling photographer Jason Patient
- American Flyers (1985) Bike Right.
Brothers Marcus and David not trying too hard. Love the aerodynamic hat.
Sports physician Marcus (Kevin Costner) persuades his unstable brother David (David Grant) to come with him and train for a bicycle race across the Rocky Mountains. He doesn’t tell him that he has a cerebral tumor. While David powerfully heads for the victory, Marcus has to realize that the contest is now beyond his capabilities.
Cameo appearance by lardy Eddy Merckx.
- Quicksilver (1986)
Kevin Bacon plays a yuppie who loses his job and becomes a cycle-courier to pay the bills.
- Rad (1986)
Teenage drama revolving around BMX racing and such dilemmas as: can the good guys beat the bad guys, who’s got the fastest bike, must you cheat to win, and should our hero miss his SAT tests to compete in “the big race”.
- Off the Mark (1987)
A young athlete suffering from a childhood affliction that causes spasms in his legs faces the ultimate challenge, he must overcome his handicap and defeat a talented woman athlete and a Russian student in a triathlon competition.
- Bicycleran (1987)
Also known as, “The Cyclist,” and, “La Cycliste”. The wife of Nasim, an Afghan immigrant in Iran, is gravely ill. He needs money to pay for her care, but his day labor digging wells does not pay enough. A friend connects Nasim to a two-bit promoter who sells tickets to watch Nasim ride a bicycle continuously for a week. The promoter brings in sick and aged spectators, haranguing them to find hope in Nasim’s strength. Aided by his son, who feeds him as he rides, Nasim grinds out the days and shivering nights. Local officials believe this may be a plot and Nasim may be a spy; they try to sabotage him as do those who bet he won’t finish the week. Will desperation alone get Nasim the money?
- Beasts of Burden (1993)
It depicts the hard side of the bike messenger’s life and society. It may be realism, with emphasis on the unhappy side, but it certainly makes you want to avoid that life. It shows drugs and alcohol, insufficient money, an alienated approach to living, a very hard job.
- Unhappy Without A Woman Too (1996)
A German film, “Auch ohne Frau ungluecklich,” is the story of Jonas,26, still lives at home, doesn’t watch any horror films and is afraid of snakes. He is a careful driver, doesn’t take any drugs and is pampered by his mother. Jonas is happy until his girlfriend leaves him because she thinks he is the biggest coward of all time – and she’s right. As Jonas is afraid of making a fool of himself again with a woman, his friends’ attempts to set him up with a new partner are all miserable failures. He is all alone until he meets Lena; she is a cycle courier, good-looking and an eco-terrorist. He falls in love with her on the spot, but Lena has a »softie trauma« and will only sleep with him when he can prove to her that he isn’t a wimp. Jonas follows her into another world, helps her with her campaigns, fights a jealous rival and fights a horde of pissed off skinheads. At the end he has learnt two things. Firstly, what real fear is, and, secondly, how hard it is to tell his mother that he’d like to move out.
- 2 Seconds (1998)
When a two-second hesitation costs a Quebec cyclist her race and her pro career, she is obliged to re-invent herself as a bike courier.
- Le vélo de Ghislain Lambert (2000)
Belgian comedy set in the 70’s. Ghislain Lambert, played by Benoit Poelvoorde, born the same day as Eddy Merckx, is a Belgian cyclist whose ambition is to become a champion but without much success. Antoine de Caunes narrates.
- Beijing Bicycle (2002)
Guei works as a cycle courier who has his loaned bicycle stolen shortly before he finishes paying for it. By chance Guei spots schoolboy Jian riding the bike and attempts to get it back. Plot of, “The Bicycle Thieves,” ? Unfortunately Jian and his gang of bully boys have other idea ideas. Exciting, eh!
The film was directed by Wang Xiaoshuai and stars Cui Lin as Guei and Li Bin as Jian.
- Cyclomania (2002) Shown at Spokesfest 2002
is a story about three bicycle couriers — K, Eetu and Oona — which takes place during a couple of weeks in the summerly Helsinki. The main character K is a competetive bicyclist possessed by his/her own ambitions, who has to proritize ex tempore between friendship, love and his/her crazy dreams. Finnish dialogue with English sub-titles.
- Courier (?)
30 minutes. Luke is an artist and cycle courier who becomes involved in a world of murder. After unwittingly delivering a package implicating him in a murder his art and life merge into a in a crescendo of paint & blood.
Co-starring A. Bicycle….
- The Wizard of Oz
Nasty woman dissapears into the Whirlwind on her bicycle. In Oz she’s the Wicked Witch of the West.
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Classic buddy western. Paul Newman rides a bicycle, does a few tricks with song Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head.
Friendly alien film. Kids and the extra-terrestial escape on BMX bikes that fly.
- For a Lost Soldier
Jeroen evacuted to the countryside from wartime Amsterdam meets a Canadian soldier, Walt, and his life changes forever. Bicycles all over the place.
- Laissez Passer (2001)
Also known as, “SAFE CONDUCT .” A French film set in Paris, March 1942. I have no idea what it’s actually about but it does have a really good website with a bicycle used to navigate the screen!