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In the fall of 1969 I was in the US Navy going to a technical school
that had begun several months before, and would go on for a few more
months. School was 8 hours a day. At night we huddled in the TV room in
our WWII vintage barracks, around an old 21" black and white, 25 guys
trying to agree on one station, one show. Football, Star Trek reruns,
and the World Series were no-brainers.
Bronson had to grow on us, and it quickly did. It was definitely a product of the era. Route 66 for the Vietnam generation. A precursor to Easy Rider. The great wide open. There was something to the show that grabbed you, if you were of a certain age. And 19, which was my age, was the right age. Everybody I knew who was of that age and who watched this show loved it. Not many others did.
But the creators of this show were a day late and a dollar short. I can't fault them too much though, because in those days many ideas were hatched on TV in an effort to glom onto the supposed youth market, but failing. It was a demographic that was on the move, and not sitting in front of a TV set night in and night out, week in and week out.
Our group finished school in December, 1969, and off we went, most of us to the fleet. Some to Vietnam. Others to other places, anywhere and everywhere around the world. We watched Bronson religiously for the first 2-1/2 months of its run. We never saw it again. At least I know I haven't. But strangely it is nevertheless remembered by those who had the good fortune to catch it while they could.
I don't know why it doesn't pop up in reruns, somewhere on cable once in a while.
This show along with Easy Rider got me into motorcycling. They were both filmed in 1968 and released in 1969. I remember reading that Michael Parks had creative differences with the producers and that helped lead to cancellation. I wish they'd listened to him. Bronson summed it all up for motorcyclists everyone who is fed up with the corporate rat-race and seeks individuality in an age of conformity, "Hang in there". I wish some corporate entity would put this out at least on VHS if not DVD (both the European theatrical release that wasn't shown here due to Bonnie Bedilias' bare breats, the TV movie, and the 26 series episodes) soon. Jim, I bought my Harley due to you.
As I watched this TV show back in 69' I didn't realize at the time what
kind of an impact it would have on me. I was only 17 at the time so the
"Zen" part about it didn't influence me at all. What never left me was
his traveling around the countryside on a motorcycle. It got me
thinking what it might be like to wander around so freely. Almost 10
years later I found out. That's when I purchased my 78' Goldwing, which
carried me to 49 States, every Province in Canada and a little bit of
Mexico. Some of the stories my riding produced and the people I met
reminded me so much of "Then Came Bronson".
The great importance of this show was that it portrayed a biker who was mild mannered and not the wild drunken criminal that the biker movies were about at that time. He was a likable guy who you could trust. That's who I try to be when I'm out there traveling around. I really wish I could see the show again.
"Then Came Bronson" was the baby boomer's introduction to buy and ride motorcycles. After being discharged from the Marine Corp and wanting to just enjoy my life and freedom in this country and this show came on a few years after my adjusting to civilian life I was hooked from the first show. I bought 3 motorcycle within 5 yrs the 3rd was a Harley Davidson Sportster very much like the one used on this show. I am also surprised this show hasn't been on the cable channels. It would be a nice change from the shows that most cable channels run over and over until the viewers know the lines of the characters like they are reading the scripts. The show was very peaceful, just a guy that wanted to see this great country and meet some of the people that live here. Most people you mention this show to from that era remember it and seem to feel it would be enjoyed by a whole new and much younger audience now and I certainly agree with that.
This is a good movie. It is what I feel. That movie made me feel free. I haven't seen it since it aired in 1969. I watched this movie with my mom when I was 12 years old. I would do anything to see it again. I would like to have a copy of it. If I knew where I could buy it I would. This movie is one of my all time favorites. I would treasure it with all.
When I was 15, I was a Star Trek kid and my dad was more the Mannix
type. Needless to say, we argued quite a bit over what to watch on TV.
But one show we both loved was Then Came Bronson. And we were both
incredibly disappointed when it was canceled after such a short run.
This series pilot is a tale of a disillusioned young corporate type (Michael Parks, in an understated performance reminiscent of James Dean) whose world is shaken by the suicide of a friend. He takes off across the US on a Harley, hooking up with a young and somewhat spoiled wedding fugitive (Bonnie Bedelia).
There are quite a few good supporting performances in a film that many at the time compared to Easy Rider (but in fact now seems less dated, at least that's what I thought when TBS reran it about three or four years ago). Though there are indeed similarities between the two, Then Came Bronson probably has roots closer to Jack Kerouac's On The Road and the TV show Route 66 than Easy Rider.
Sad to see that this movie isn't available on DVD. Maybe one day...
I must have been in the summer of 1969 when a friend of mine said that he had heard that they were filming an episode of Then Came Bronson near by. We were born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado. So the 4 of us jumped in the car, I was to young to drive but my friend wasn't, along with my cousin who was visiting from Utah away we went to find Bronson. In the mountains of Colorado during the summer they film a lot of movies so we had to go from Hotel to Hotel in Canon City to find him, finally some one knew where he was in a rented house in some neighborhood that I couldn't find again if I had to. We pulled up in the driveway and out he came, he was friendly beyond what any of us could imagine. We sat with him and watched the Johnny Cash Show and ate carrot sticks. He was such a great guy to be so kind to a bunch of kids, none of us has ever forgotten the day or the guy. I think that the show was so popular with young men because this guy was free, just going from town to town helping people, meeting people, but it was all so simple then our generation thought we could save the world. You live on Michael, live on brother.
Then Came Bronson was seminal and what I remember most about it (since
I was 12 when I saw it for the first time) was the notion that you
could lose yourself in America by simply getting on a motorcycle and
disappearing. The imagery was perfect for young guys like myself who
were watching people come back from Vietnam, utterly broken by the
events of the period. The theme of "no ties" was utterly appealing to
many people who felt that any connection to the "establishment" was
empty and devoid of the satisfaction one could get from simply getting
lost and "being free." The main character was far less hardened than
other similar leading dropouts of the same genre (Fonda, Brando,
Hopper) and far less psychodelic than guys pushing the "trippy" side of
late 60's America. Bronson was more of a workin man's dropout and
that's what I loved about him. And the mountain climb was unique. I
think a whole generation of dirt-bikers caught the bug after seeing
this movie for the first time.
Very cool, man.
I remember when I saw this movie, it must have been around 1980, and me and my sister were baby sitting for my elder sisters kid. I must have been around 12, and I thought, "this guy is sooo cool". It's funny how it came back into my head, 'cos I was listening to Johnny Cash singing "Wayfaring Stranger", and I instantly remembered this song from the movie, all those years ago. Don't know what I'd think about it now if I saw it, but it says something that the memory has lasted so long in my head.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
i was fourteen years old when "then came Benson" was on t.v. and it was a very simple,but intriguing show. given the time it took place,i don't believe it is a show that could be done today. i think much of the appeal then and now is because there's just something about heading out on the open highway,never knowing where you're going,or where you might end up that is very tempting to a lot of people,and that show in a way,kind of allowed us to do that. unfortunately,i think that michael parks is a very under rated actor,who,like a few other actors,always seems to bring some honesty,integrity and intensity. "then came Benson" was a 'one-of-a-kind'.
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