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The sort of show that simply wouldn't make it to television today, "Then Came Bronson" told quiet, lyrical, sometimes comic, sometimes dramatic stories about a young man traveling through America in search of personal meaning; unlike many attempts at this theme, the show was never heavy-handed, offering intelligent, often quirky character portraits of the people Jim Bronson encountered. The viewers always came away with a rewarding, thought-provoking experience. It's a pity both the pilot film & the individual episodes aren't available on video or DVD. Shows of this caliber may be born of their particular time, but their substance is timeless.
A great TV series that tells the story of a nomadic motorcycle rider,
Bronson (Michael Parks). Each of the 26 episodes told of an adventure
involving Bronson and the people and places he encounters on his travels.
Each show ends with a lesson learned and Bronson heading down the highway,
to the tune of " Long Lonesome Highway". (Performed by
The opening scene of each episode is a classic, Bronson and a businessman in a station wagon exchange dialog that will make you want to leave the rat race, and buy a motorcycle.
Highly recommended if you are able to catch an airing of this program. I am sure many of the situations will be somewhat dated if viewed from a modern perspective, but it still captures the essence of what makes motorcycling appealing to many people.
BRONSON reran on TV for awhile in the 1970s and then simply disappeared, It would be great to catch up with the show someday on A&E or Bravo or TV Land. A young Michael Parks, who was already an established TV and movie actor, played a James Dean-ish character in a knit cap who traveled the U.S. on his hog, learning little life lessons through the people he met each week. Old formula (think ROUTE 66 and THE FUGITIVE) with a bit of a twist, and a very appealing lead in Parks. GREEN LANTERN and GREEN ARROW were to follow BRONSON's lead with a memorable story arc in the 1970s that had them riding hogs and traveling the nation. Parks also got to sing on the show, and wasn't half bad. Parks has aged badly over the years, but his lined face and booze-and-butts voice has played to his credit, particularly in stone cold killer roles in THE CHINA LAKE MURDERS and on WALKER Texas RANGER.
I was the guy in the car at the beginning of the show. I was about to
graduate from high school and wanted like everything to buy a Harley
Sportster and hit the road for a year while I figured out what I wanted
to do for the rest of my life. My dad talked me out of it. Probably for
the best. But, man! What dream! I loved this show. It was like Route 66
only with one guy instead of two and a motorcycle instead of a car.
Bronson would meet someone new each week and get involved in their problems. Seems to me he got in a lot of fights and even got beat up a time or two.
Very soft-spoken but had a great singing voice. Each episode featured a song sung by Michael Parks. Many of them classic country songs. I have a couple of his albums. I never laid hands on the one with the title theme (if one exists). If it's out there, I'd love to know about it.
"Goin' down that long, lonesome highway. Bound for the mountains and the plains."
Anyway, a powerful and wonderful show.
This is the introduction to the character of Jim Bronson, the soft spoken
motorcyclist that went on the road looking for some insight into his life
after the suicide of a friend. (Zen and the art of motorcycling??) It was
later made into a TV series.
Bronson in his trademark knit watchcap aboard his red Sportster with bedroll attached, is still an icon for the free-spirited motorcycle lifestyle. It has been many years (at least 20) since I have seen this movie, but I can remember faithfully watching anytime it was played. In the TV series Parks often performed music that would be used to accompany the storyline, but I don't recall if he performed any songs in the movie.
Just saw Then Came Bronson on SpeedChannel. This is Route 66 on two wheels and classic television when the writing and story lines were at the top of their form. I was just off to college and had read Travels With Charlie and On The Road. The road down to Big Sur, even the gas station and store looked the same a few years later when I traveled the same route. The look, the feel of this movie is pure 60's. Less harsh than Easy Rider, Then Came Bronson captures the flip side of the 60's that did not include drugs. Brings back memories or Route 66, It's A Man's World, The Sterile Cuckoo, The Film Flam Man, Thunder Road, and others.
In 1969 I had recently bought my first used bike. When the kids came
along i gave up riding. when i retired recently, like so many others ,i
bought a new bike a cruiser
Then and now i still hear that song in my head. "gion down that long lonesome highway bound for the mountains and the sky. Going down that long lonesome highway going to do things my way". "My way" hasn't always been possible but it's what i dream about as i ride along Its a dream that we all should have. Its the dream that counts not whether you make it all or not.
Thanks to Michael Parks and to whoever put the words to that song.
Thirty three years after seeing the episode with the troubled young man on the white Electra-Glide I rode my new white big twin home. Sad my Dad didn't live to see it. My Dad and I never saw eye to eye, but for that one hour a week this show was on we were side by side, living out the same dream. This series has touched a lot of lives and inspired countless others. Jim Bronson was a real man who cared about others and went about making things right where he could. The co-star was a mildly customized Sportster. A great list of guest stars and beautiful scenery complimented a show that some couldn't understand. It left us all too soon. There are countless baby-boomer-bikers that would buy the DVD's at any price. Quality TV from our youth.
Whenever I have described my personal feelings about life to my friends, I have used the 'opening' bit described here (...Man, I wish I was you." "Yeah? Well, hang in there.") I am not anyone big or famous, but I have traveled a lot and loved my life. I have never jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, or jumped off of a cliff to avoid a perfectly good trail to the bottom, or strapped barrel staves to my feet to go flying down a mountain to certain doom, but have done what I want and have enjoyed every minute. I don't want to die saying, "Man, I wish I was you." None of us should ever be afraid to do what we want. If you are happy screaming down a mountainside looking to kiss a tree, you are doing what you like. I think that this movie sends that message. If it is time for a change, see it and accept it. If life is rough today, it will be better tomorrow. You just need to 'go forward into that good night.' I thought this was a great movie for the ideals it presented (except for Jim's Sportster starting 'first time, every time.')
They don't make films like this anymore! This is one of the pioneer reality films. originally, the studio wanted to market Michael Parks as a replacement for James Dean, a teen idol thing. But he turned out to be so much more,the innovator of real TV and docudrama. This film takes you with him on his travels around the country as he competes (motorcycle). They throw in an interesting, non cheesecake girl, Bonnie Bedelia and the song "Wayfarin' Stranger" and the sojourn continues. People who like this film should see Michael in "Wild Seed", a train hopping adventure which features Rupert Holmes and Celia Kaye. The movie "Then Came Bronson" later landed Parks a popular TV show of the same name in the 60's.
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