Two Wheels in Film

“Ever bike? Now that’s something that makes life worth living!…Oh, to just grip your handlebars and lay down to it, and go ripping and tearing through the streets and road, over railroad tracks and bridges, threading crowds…and wondering all the time when you’re going to smash up. Well, now, that’s something!” Jack London

I have recently been inspired to give up the car & bus in exchange for the bike, the logical argument being that it’s 1) cheaper, 2) better for the environment, and 3) better for my health. Bikes are also pretty fun, something that’s easy to forget when you haven’t ridden one in a while. Of course, switching from car to bike is a big change, and sometimes a little extra inspiration is needed, which is where Robert Penn’s It’s All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels comes in. In this delightful little book, bike enthusiast Penn takes us on a journey to assemble the perfect bike, and while doing so explores the history, science, and culture of the bike. One thing that struck me while reading this book is just how ingenious and elegant an invention the bicycle was and still is. The first bicycles were being ridden by the masses in the late 1800s, leading to independence and mobility (particularly for women). By the end of this book I was a convert—an amateur bicycle enthusiast ready to get back on two wheels.

Of course, the library carries all sorts of books about the bicycle—books on bike culture, history, repair, and even fiction centering largely on the will to pedal. We also have movies about biking, and I’ve gathered a few of my favorites for your perusal here:………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 Bicycle Thief

 In this film, the bike is not simply a means of transportation—it is an opportunity for work and economic improvement. Unemployed family man Antonio Ricci finds a job that requires a bike, but then has his bike stolen on his first day of work. Major bummer. He then spends the greater part of the movie searching with his son for the stolen bicycle. A beautiful film, but kind of a downer.

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Breaking Away

Dave wants to be an Italian bicycle racer someday—his only problem being that he’s not Italian. With the help of his three working-class best friends, Dave takes on the college kids in a final bike race not to be missed. And of course, there’s also that great truck racing scene set to Italian classical music. Ciao, papa.

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Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
Words fail me—this is one of my all-time favorite movies. It was a favorite with me and my brothers growing up (“Tell ‘em Large Marge sent ya!”), and it’s held up surprisingly well. This was Tim Burton’s first feature film, and the sets and costumes are a delight, along with the music score by Danny Elfman. And then there’s that bike.

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Quicksilver

This movie is kind of corny, but it’s pretty enjoyable to watch Kevin Bacon zip around on a bike in 1980s San Francisco. After losing his hotshot stock market job, Bacon takes a job as a bike messenger. He hangs out with wacky coworkers, gets involved in some low-level intrigue, and like, totally grows as a person.

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Triplets of Belleville

Madame Souza and her beloved pooch Bruno team up with the Belleville Sisters—an aged song-and-dance team from the days of Fred Astaire—to rescue her grandson who was kidnapped during the Tour de France. Lots of bicycle racing, and lots of wonderful music. Essential viewing for all ages.…………………………………………………………..

And of course, who could forget this classic moment in cinematic history?

Bike safely,
Tara

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Two Wheels in Film

  1. Oh…oh Tara…I did not expect to see young John Cusack today. My heart! Well-played, and good luck with your biking adventure!

    LAV

  2. Amanda

    I do believe the Triplets of Belleville is my favorite movie of all time!

  3. lizzy

    Breaking Away! A bicycle ending not to be missed!

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