Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Hollywood Rides A Bike"

Philadelphia film critic Steven Rea happened to have collected a few photographs over the years of Hollywood stars on bikes.  He created a website to share them and discovered there was a great interest in such photos.  It inspired others to send him some they had and sent him searching for more.  It resulted in the 159 page book "Hollywood Rides A Bike: Cycling With the Stars."  It contains 125 dazzling, most black and white, photographs, some of them taking up two pages.

Its a delightful array of stars on all manner of bikes--Vincent Price on a penny farthing (one of three penny farthings in the book), Nat King Cole on a stationary bike, Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth on a tandem (one of four tandem photographs), Barbara Streisand pedaling a cargo bike, Elvis being transported in a pedacab, Doris Day on a Stingray.  The Beatles fill a two-page spread hanging out with matching bikes.  Spencer Tracer pedals along with Mickey Rooney sitting on the rear rack clutching his waist.

There are photographs celebrating the great bicycling movies--"Breaking Away,"
"The Bicycle Thief," "6 Day Bike Rider," "Quicksilver"--and photographs of memorable cinema bike scenes--"Butch Cassiday and the Sundance Kid," "The Sound of Music."

There are photographs of people one would never expect to see on a bike--Alfred Hitchcock, Steve McQueen, Elizabeth Taylor, W.C. Fields, Bob Hope, Shirley Temple, Robert Mitchum, Joan Crawford, Sean Connery.

Not all the photographs are of Americans. European sex goddesses Ingrid Berman, Marlene Dietrich, Sophia Loren, Jeanne Moreau, Bridget Bardot  and Claudia Cardinale join the peloton. 

The book reveals quite few movies with significant bicycle scenes--"Athena" from l954 with Debbie Reynolds and Jane Powell, "A New Kind of Love" from l963 with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, "American Heart" from 1992 with Jeff Bridges, "A Thousand Clowns" from l965 with Jason Robards, to name a few.

The book provides a pair of indexes---one of all the stars mentioned and another of all the bikes.  Unfortunately, there is not an index of the many movies.

Romance is a common theme, a man riding with a woman sitting uncomfortably on the cross tube of a bike--James Stewart and Grace Kelly, George Gobel and Diana Dors, Robert Goulet and Nancy Kwan.  There are loads of a man and a woman off on a bike ride with shining smiles.  And there are a handful of studio photos of young starlets in micro shorts showing a lot of leg, Betty Grable among them.

There are four photos of crashes, including one of Jane Fonda in her screen debut in "Tall Story" (1960) and another of Doris Day on a full-sized bike with a basket in "The Tunnel of Love" (1958).

Dogs also feature in four photos--one being pulled along on a leash, one in a box behind the seat, another perched on a pillow behind the seat and Rin Tin Tin sitting on a board mounted between the seat and the handlebars.

There is not a great deal of copy, just a short paragraph accompanying each photo, sometimes with a second studio blurb.  A photo of a young Lauren Bacall leaning against a bike holding a cup of coffee was one of those with a pair of paragraphs.  The studio copy promoted Bacall as someone who "prefers slacks, sweaters and bicycles to dresses, silk stocking and open cars.  She likes to be free and unencumbered."

May the day return when stars prefer bikes to autos.   The book is testimony to an era when it was fashionable for stars to be seen on a bicycle. They all look so happy and carefree, these photos will make anyone wish to get out and ride or see the movie they are promoting.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Movies and bikes all captured in the same tome. What a perfect book for George.