Bruce Brown

Old Bike Australasia - - BUZZ BOX -

Born De­cem­ber 1st, 1937, in San Fran­cisco, BRUCE BROWN rev­o­lu­tionised the art of doc­u­men­tary film mak­ing with his 1966 epic, The End­less Sum­mer, a story of two surfers in pur­suit of the per­fect wave. Brown filmed the movie him­self on a 16mm cam­era, directed, did the voice over and edit­ing. He bor­rowed $50,000 to blow up the print to 35mm to al­low it to be shown in movie the­atres, and it took off, gross­ing US$30 mil­lion over the next two decades. Surf­ing was his life-long pas­sion, but in the late ‘six­ties, along with a gen­er­a­tion of Cal­i­for­ni­ans, he also dis­cov­ered dirt bikes. It was this pas­sion that led him to de­vise a script that ba­si­cally doc­u­mented the 1970 year in mo­tor­cy­cling terms. Brown, directed, filmed, and nar­rated On Any Sun­day in 1971, which went on to be­come the movie that pitched leisure mo­tor­cy­cling to a world­wide au­di­ence and was partly re­spon­si­ble for the off-road boom of the ‘sev­en­ties in USA. The film made Mal­colm Smith and Mert Lawwill house­hold names. De­spite hav­ing the runs on the board with The End­less Sum­mer, find­ing the fi­nance for On Any Sun­day proved to be dif­fi­cult. Even­tu­ally, Brown con­tacted Steve McQueen. “Even though I’d never met him, I set up a meet­ing to talk about do­ing On Any Sun­day. We talked about the con­cept, which he re­ally liked. Then he asked what I wanted him to do in the film. I told him I wanted him to fi­nance it. He laughed and said he acted in films, he didn’t fi­nance them. I then jok­ingly told him, ‘Al­right, then you can’t be in the movie’. The next day, I got a call and it was McQueen. He told me to go ahead and get the ball rolling with the movie – he’d back it.” On Any Sun­day was nom­i­nated for an Academy Award in 1972 but lost to The Hell­strom Chron­i­cle, a doc­u­men­tary about the in­sect world. In 1999, Brown was in­ducted into the AMA Mo­tor­cy­cle Hall of Fame. He con­tin­ued surf­ing un­til 2008 when he suf­fered a shoul­der in­jury, but still rode mo­tor­cy­cles. He died on De­cem­ber 10, 2017 from heart fail­ure.

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