On Any Sunday (1971) Poster


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A classic!
jv-525 February 1999
"On Any Sunday" is a film you will definitely enjoy...even if you've never been on a motorcycle. Not only is this film highly entertaining, it's also beautifully photographed and filled with many laughs. The segment with Steve McQueen at the end of the film is wonderful and it truly captures what going out and taking a ride with your friends is all about. See this film!
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Fun even for non-riders.
jckruize7 October 2003
Modest aspirations, budget and technique made this a surprising box-office hit back in 1971, and to this day nobody's done it better. Populist documentarian Bruce Brown (of ENDLESS SUMMER fame) wanted to show how much fun motorcycling is and succeeded. It's that simple.

I remember as a nerdy kid being dragged to see this, grumbling all the way, "I don't want to see some stupid documentary about stupid motorcycles!" Well, the movie surprised me with its infectious air of fun and camaraderie. Trust me, when it's over you're going to want to rush out and buy yourself a dirt bike.

Although much of the photography is 16mm, MOS, hand-held or too zoomy, the editing and slow-motion sequences, backed by a charming pop score from Dominic Frontiere (he of the original superb OUTER LIMITS), overcome the minor technical limitations. Brown's narration is also good if not quite perfect: not overwritten, maybe a bit hokey sometimes, but mostly funny or informative.

Perhaps the film tries to cover too much. But when it concentrates on its three main protagonists -- American Motorcycling Association star Mert Lawwill, multi-talented expert Malcolm Smith, and movie star Steve McQueen (whose production company provided financing) -- it's a heckuva fun ride.
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For all the Eternal Twelve Year Olds
jbraun198422 May 2006
More than a couple of times every year I have to watch "On Any Sunday." I can't tell you why exactly except that it makes me feel good. It's kind of like smelling something that you haven't in a long time and all those feelings that you had the first time you experienced "it" come flooding back.

For me, I was twelve years old when I first saw this movie. It was on a rainy summer Saturday afternoon with my best friend Dean (we had nothing better to do...). The film was both funny and seriously awe-inspiring at the same time. As we walked out of the theater, Dean and I looked at each other and exclaimed at the same time, "I can do that!" When I got home from the movie, I immediately went to work lobbying my brothers and pestering my parents to get us (me) a "bike." Between all of us, we finally came to an agreement with us boys finding a way to finance most of it (our dad flitting the bill for the rest) and mom consenting to let us anywhere near "the thing" in the first place (lots of promises were made that day I can tell you).

That first bike was a Bultaco Sherpa some 3 or four years old. It was set up as a trails bike and all of us boys, our friends (until they talked their parents into one), and even a sister or two took many turns over the next few trying to figure out how to negotiate a 30 inch diameter log that lay across the creek...without putting our feet down (a la Malcolm Smith in the movie of course)! Many of us, some 35 years later, still wear faded scars that mark these great, but dangerous, days.

This movie got me started loving something that I didn't even really think about existing until then. We had mainly bicycles and horses where I grew up. A friend down the rode apiece did have a mini-bike with a 5 hp Briggs and Stratton powering it, but it was touchy and didn't always start when you wanted it too (although, I can also say this about the Sherpa at times).

This was really the first time that I started to learn about motors...what it was like to get greasy-dirty...the smell of gasoline and oil...and what it took to get both yourself and the bike clean again (to Mom's satisfaction).

My love of motorcycles began on that wet summer day and has continued to the present. Indirectly (through me), and just within my own circle of friends and relatives, "On Any Sunday" is probably responsible for some 100 to 200 new motorcycle riders - who otherwise may never have known what it's like to fly on two wheels or pick prickly pear cactus needles out of your ...well you know.

Although the film is somewhat dated (both the motorcycles as well as the background music)...it wears well and the spirit remains the same...just ask my twelve year old...,"Pretty cool Dad. I can do that!"
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"Turn it on, you can give yourself a real thrill!"
The Doomite30 July 2001
I remember loving this documentary from the very first time I saw it on video as a young kid. I've been riding motorcycles since I was 6 years old, and it's true what they say about motorcycling: Once you've experienced riding a motorcycle, you'll always look forward to your next ride. "On Any Sunday" does an excellent job in capturing what motorcycling is all about. This film has it all: entertaining information, a keen sense of humor, nail-biting intensity, and good-natured fun. Having been made in the late '60s/early '70s, the soundtrack of the movie is truly "groovy!" Definitely see this if you've ever wanted to go for a ride on a bike without leaving your living room!
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Take When You Need A Happy Shot
Richard (richreed-1)14 September 2009
I somehow missed this when it first came out. There was this thing called Viet Nam going on and me wearing green clothes, but I digress....

The first time I saw this movie I was already an experienced rider, having ridden all over the North American Continent and the island of Oahu on everything from 90cc dirt bikes to Harleys to Ninjas to full-boat tourers. But like other reviewers on this forum, it's now Must See at least twice a year. While it centers on off-road competition rather than road riding, OAS still conveys the thrill riders get when in the wind. Bruce Brown knows how to tell a story, and he does a fantastic job. On one hand, he tries to cover too much in the allotted time; on the other hand, there are so many more stories in the motorcycle world that didn't get told. Just enjoy the movie for what it is, a neat little story, photographed and narrated by a talented story-teller with genuine love for the sport.

For those that are not motorcyclists: while Steve McQueen indeed has the draw, the two other riders in the movie are today giants in their chosen fields. Mert Lawwill today is a gifted engineering pioneer in the field of human hand prosthesis, and Malcom Smith still owns a dealership and runs Malcom Smith Racing, a producer of off-road rider equipment.
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On any day of the week!
bobpeirson-28 October 2000
I don't like motorcycles but I do like this movie! Bruce Brown's ability to wrap a viewer up in a blanket of entertainment is uncanny. He approaches this documentary about motorcycle racing and recreation with a zeal and thoroughness that leaves you wanting more by the film's end. Featuring Steve McQueen, Malcolm Smith and Mert Lawwill - coupled with a snappy and involving music score by Dominic Frontiere (The Outer Limits series), On Any Sunday is sure to please.
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Sincere, and good hearted
davismargaret23 September 2006
I watched this with my teenager on DVD--he just got a KLR 650. I don't care for motorcycles, but what's great about this movie is that it makes you grasp just why other people do; the thrill of it, the risk and challenge are vividly portrayed. If you're the sort who enjoys understanding how the "other guy" ticks and are curious about all kinds of things, you'll like this.

It was also fun as a peek back at the era in which I grew up. The passionate, dedicated amateur was very much in the American tradition--this film made me realize how much we've lost with with the corporate takeover of sports.
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Perhaps my all-time favorite movie
Barry Boulier12 January 2007
I was 11 years old, born and growing up in California when On Any Sunday came out and it was the catalyst for an obsession that continues to this day (I own 33 motorcycles). Every time I watch the film I want to run out and ride one of my bikes. The ending especially gives me that warm fuzzy feeling to ride that Steve, Bruce, Malcolm, Mert and the rest talk about.

The beginning scene of the kids on their Schwinn bicycles with their tall handle bars, banana seats (if you had a seat), in T-shirts and racing around, doing wheelies and jumps was EXACTLY my friends and I were doing at the time.

I cannot count how many VHS tapes of On Any Sunday I've worn out.
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Excellent view of the motorcycling world.
TxMike6 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Motorcycling is a complex subject, and no one film can do ALL of motorcycling justice. But this one treats a part of it very well. With the help of actor Steve McQueen, who also financed the film, we see a cross-section which includes a bit of road racing, mostly Daytona, and lots of flat track racing where the rider has a metal skid pad on his left boot, for stabilizing the motorcycle in curves, which are always turning left. We also see a little ice racing where the tires have long metal spikes. I think ice racers are just plain crazy!

There is also much devoted to such things as desert racing and hill climbing competition. But the most interesting to me was profiling Malcolm Smith, who raced a bit of everything, almost always with a smile on his face. He simply was better than everyone else, he rode with such an ease that it looked like the motorcycle was part of him.

Steve McQueen was a pretty accomplished motorcyclist himself, but in DVD clips which show him riding for fun with the experts, he definitely showed himself as an amateur.

I have been a motorcyclist for most of my adult life. I found this film very enjoyable.
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Best Bruce Brown Movie
Bobby_Dupea12 July 2008
A couple of years ago, TCM showed a retrospective of Bruce Brown's surfing films from the 60s, including the well known "Endless Summer". But the one that stood out from all the rest was "On Any Sunday", a motorcycle film that still bears repeated viewings.

From what I understand, it was the film that actually introduced professional motocross racing to the rest of the country. It reminded me a lot of the 80s when I first started on trail bikes and then went to Enduro 2-strokes. I've since given up riding like that for the sake of the family, but man, it did bring back a lot of memories...

I wish I had seen it before the TCM showing but I never got around to it. Talk about falling through the radar!
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Best motorcycle flick of all time.
Adobe-Hut30 June 2006
I have only seen one Bruce Brown film titled "On Any Sunday".

I was turned onto the title 2 years ago (2004) by some friends I ride motorcycles with but, since the first viewing, I have probably watched the film 20 times and look forward to 20 more.

It seems that all of the people I know who have seen it... feel the same.

YES, we are all bike enthusiasts but, it's just a wonderful, informative and now historical doc of motorcycling activities in the early 70's with great period music and superb narration.

It's my opinion that "On Any Sunday" is the best motorcycle movie ever made.

If you ride motorcycles, think about getting a video projector and inviting your riding buddies over and showing the movie on your garage door or side of your house after dark. Call it "(instert your name)'s Motorcycle Ride In Theater".

Get some beer or tea or whatever, it's a good time! Three thumbs up!
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On any Sunday still Good Today!!!
ducatimatz2821 November 2013
Although 40+ years old now OAS still holds up well for racing enthusiasts.The Bike that Lawwill was racing;the HD IRON XR750 produced in 1970-71 is only a year older than the ALLOY XR750 first mfg in 1972 and still raced today in AMA GRAND NATIONAL DT RACING in revised format,but essentially the same engine design from 1972.In the complete racing history of HD they have never had a Previous Race bike engine design(i.e.WR,KR,IRON XR)ever go longer than 17 yrs (KR 52-68) The currently raced HD XR is coming upon it's 42nd year in DT Racing...

Keen observers will notice in the final scenes where Mert,Malcohm,and Steve McQueen are playing in the Sand;That Lawwill's motorcycle isn't a Harley Davidson even though the HD gas tank says it is.It was actually a GREEVES CHALLENGER that belonged to a relative of Mert.Being that Lawwill was a fully sponsored Factory HD rider, it wouldn't have been good advertising to be on a non HD product...Still a Great Film!!!
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Great fun
jerryx717 November 2012
My father took me to see this film. He's also the one who purchased my first bike and taught me to ride it. There is no better way to spend time with your kids than motorcycle sport. It'hobby that's lasted a lifetime and cost me a knee but, I had a great time wrecking it. I've ridden and raced them. I've also worked in shops all over Western Pennsylvania. All my fb friends are in the business and/or sport. I've been to hundreds of races and my wife patiently goes with me. She never complains and is always helpful. I also dabbled in journalism until an argeument w/ the "Filter publications" turned ugly. All in all it's been a great ride.
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Photography really ahead of its time. music is badly dated. script is so so.
e_blastman26 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The camera work for OAS is incredible. Its easy to overlook but there are many fantastic aerial shots from helicopters and the on board live motorcycle shots in races are mind blowing. The color and definition aren't bad for an early 70's film genre. I would down grade the music (its 70's after all) and the script is a bit tedious and just fair. Today's motorcycles and races are light years ahead of these 70's machines but that can't be helped and the film should be judged only around its 70's zeitgeist. I can see why "On Any Sunday" was such a crowd pleaser 40 years ago. A definite purchase on DVD for motorcycle buffs and a sure fire rental for the rest of us.
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The Joy, and Challenge, of Motorcycling
drgruchala7 October 2009
Five years after Bruce Brown achieved wide success and critical acclaim for his surfing documentary about "the search for the perfect wave" titled The Endless Summer, he created what is generally thought by most knowledgeable people to be the most entertaining and true to life motorcycling movie ever made, On Any Sunday (1971).

To call this film simply a documentary on motorcycle racing would do it a grave injustice. With cameras on helicopters and on the motorcycles themselves to capture the insanely dangerous nature of what it's like to ride "the mile," a dirt oval on which riders attained speeds of well over a hundred miles an hour on the straights and near triple digits in the turns, or the bone jarring and torturous intensity of motocross racing, or the unimaginable physical toll it must take to finish the Mexican 1000 (now called the Baja 1000, a 1000 mile race across the Baja California peninsula), after watching this movie you'll feel more like a participant than a spectator . . . at least I did.

Mr. Brown doesn't stop with dirt racing either. He'll take you from road racing with the A.M.A. (American Motorcyclists Association) to racing on ice in Canada with three inch spikes on all of the tires--a line from the movie comes to mind, "It would be like getting run over by a buzz saw, you've never seen grown men crawl so fast"--to The International Six Day Trials (now called the ISD Enduro), a six day off road race during which the rider cannot accept help from anyone and can only use what he has with him or on his motorcycle to fix any problems that may come up. On Any Sunday will take you all over the world and show you, as effectively as the medium possible can, what it's like to participate in these events.

The movie also shows, as I believe was Mr. Brown's intention, a side of the motorcycle culture that could not be more different than the outlaw/renegade perception that many Americans had of motorcyclists at the time. The stars of the film (including the legendary Steve McQueen, who financed the film) are portrayed as responsible hard working American citizens who love the feeling of freedom and the joy that riding a motorcycle gives them.
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What a memory jogger
mizzou437 September 2008
I was all of 17 when this film came out. I was a year from joining the Navy and owned a used Kawasaki 175. I ended up selling the bike to buy (back when you had to do that) books for high school.

I remember that year so well because, at the Missouri State Fair, the last Sunday of the fair was motorcycle racing on the (now defunct) mile dirt track. Mert Lawill was the AMA #1 plate holder that year and seeing this film just takes me back to those days.

The opening scene where the one guy is trying to teach the other one how to ride a motorcycle is much like how it goes. Too many bumps and bruises came about my introduction to the hand clutch and such.

It's funny to hear the comment about how fast the road bikes were going at Daytona when there are motorcycles that will go that fast off the showroom available now. That goes to show you how far we've come in motorcycle technology and engineering.

I finally ended up purchasing the DVD version of this film after wearing out a couple of video tape versions.

When Bruce Brown made this film, he set the standard as far as how to make a fantastic motorcycle documentary that covers all aspects of riding. Granted there are other styles of riding but this one covered the main ones. It's a shame that the follow up video, On Any Sunday II didn't do justice to the original.
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Always a classic
beajohnson81839 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
There will never be a movie like this one! It is so cool. It will be a great movie forever and ever. It explains the heart of all kinds of motorcycle riding and racing. All the people are real. It is a very fascinating style documentary. It makes you want to go out and ride or go to a motorcycle race of some kind. The fact that a legend is in it is great. The narration is very captivating. I bought the video for my husband a few years ago and we still watch it. Also, I need to know if anyone out there knows all the words to the featured song or where I can find the words? I've tried all kinds of internet sources and have had no luck. Thanks!
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punkguy28412 February 2003
This movie does exactly that, shows what riders are willing to do for the sport. Today, you see travis pastrana dolls on the toy shelf at target, and kid rock with seth in his video. Why? Money. This video brings you back to the days when motocross and road bikes were dangerous, not EXTREME, riders raced for the #1 plate, not for sponsors.

If I were a faster typer, I could go on. So, on that note:

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Ultimate off road motorcycling documentary
mrydman27 May 2002
This is the standard from which all movies about the sport of off road motorcycle racing and sport riding will be based. Bruce Brown was a man ahead of his time. Although the film is over 30 years old it continues to be the only movie of its type to convey the true feeling and spirit of motorcycle riding as it is experienced by the rider her/himself.
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If you like motorcycles (or MTB), then this is for you....
bondoa66 October 2000
This is one of my favorites. It present the scene of flat-track racing in the late 60's, and follows the AMA Grand National Champion, Mert Lawwill in his pursuit of another #1 plate. It also follows the rides of Malcolm Smith, one of the best ever as he constantly wins races around the world. Steve McQueen, a huge biker, plays an integral part, and the footage is tremendous. It is a documentary, and is overdubbed by Brown, with both music and narration, but it is a work of art. the movie has seen a big rise recently with the continued success of mountain biking, of which Lawwill is a great suspension designer for both Schwinn and Yeti. Have fun with this, it is scary and funny at the same time. These guys are true studs, riding sometimes with broken backs, taking casts off with pliers, you name it.....
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Good Movie
internationaldave27 January 2010
This is one good movie. Any motorcyclist who does not own this movie and watched it at least 5 times, is just a wannabe motorcyclist. I grew up in Thousand Oaks, California at the perfect time for dirt-biking. (57 to '73) The open fields (all gone, now) were a flurry of everything from Taco mini bikes to Honda 305 Scramblers. My neighbor Ron had a B.S.A. Gold Star (500). THAT was the king dirt bike. Open megaphone. WOW! All those good days of running from the Ventura County Sheriffs who rode Yamaha 360 Enduros are long gone. My best friend and I even got away from one riding double on his Taco 99. We out-hill climbed him. At any rate, get this movie. Don't worry about On Any Sunday II. It just doesn't have the soul as the first one. I own it and have only watched it twice. It IS worth owning, but pales in comparison to the original.
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Times do & don't change.
Trisub196022 January 2004
I saw this movie at 10 years old at a drive-in and I loved it. Bicycles, and especially motorcycles give you that RUSH and that free feeling; the wind on your face, surroundings flying past you. It's an activity that's almost always fun. "On Any Sunday" shows better than any other documentary what this past-time, and sport, is really like. It was almost 33 years since I last saw this movie and when my brother rented it, I remembered most of the words in that song that plays throughout the movie. I've had my misfortunes on bicycles/motorcycles, but I still ride occasionally, though quite less tempting of fate than I used to. This movie gives a lot of valuable information on the goods and possible bads of cycling. I like what that other comment writer, Adam, said about this movie, it was a time when most of us could do dangerous stuff on our bikes, but not the EXTREME stuff of now. People may have better equipment on their cycles nowadays, but I'd say the amount of fun is identical.
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The best publicity motorcycle racing could ask for.
Flintlock617 September 2000
From the never-ending wheelie by a 10 year old on a Stingray through flat tracks, Daytona, hill climbs, motocross and Bonneville On Any Sunday was absolutely the best job of covering any kind of racing. This wasn't a Hollywood concoction with a hokey love story line. It was purely about the love of two-wheeled fun. Considering the technology of the day the photography was outstanding. In a time when lots of people only saw the dark side of motorcycle gangs, On Any Sunday portrayed the real side of most motorcyclists with bright lights, colors, sportsmanship and fun.
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Greatest love letter to motorcycling
Diego Ruiz Sánchez6 December 2016
The first "On Any Sunday" documentary is possibly the greatest love letter to motorcycling. The piece not only shows you plenty of motorsports disciplines centered around motorcycles but also highlights the many different people that enjoy it on many levels. Motorcyclists all over the World will love it while it will make many non-users understand while maybe also kickstarting their newest way of life.

While some of the shots could be better and some disciplines do not get enough time, it is almost impossible to make a better documentary about the subject of motorcycling. They got it perfect the first time around.

It is more than lovely to see the twinshock "dirtbikes" of yesteryear or see how precarious the #1 flat track rider from the USA actually lived back in the day. No drama, no "I might not survive this if something goes wrong", just people and 2-wheeled vehicles, nothing else needed.
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classic motorcycle documentary
SnoopyStyle2 July 2015
It's a ground breaking documentary for the sport of motorcycle racing (and also BMX racing). It follows #1 Mert Lawwill, veteran Dick Bugsy Mann, reckless rookie David Aldana, flamboyant Gene Burrito Romero and winningest Jim Rice in motorcycle track racing. It also has a short cameo by racing enthusiast Steve McQueen and racer Malcolm Smith. There are various other types of motorcycle racing. The constant narration gives it an old fashion documentary feel. Although it has great exciting race footage. It is lots of crashes. It has slow motion to bring out the beauty of motorcycle racing. It would have been great to get closer to the racers' personal lives but that's a more modern documentary move. Also we don't usually get to hear the racers' voices. That's a shame for a movie preserving these figures. It would be nice to hear it straight from the men.
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