Legendary "On Any Sunday" Filmmaker Bruce Brown Dies Aged 80

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If you grew up in the 60s and 70s, you might remember the films made by Bruce Brown; most notably the motorcycle epic starring Steve McQueen; “On Any Sunday," and the cult surfing film; "Endless Summer".

As a filmmaker, he is widely credited with altering the perception of surfing and motorcycling, creating a cult movement of people inspired by his films.


A statement on brucebrownfilms.com said: “Today our friend, partner, mentor, filmmaker and father peacefully passed away in Santa Barbara.” Bruce died in his sleep on December 10th, aged 80. 

“With Bruce and his inspiring movies an era comes to an end.”

Brown received wide acclaim after the release of “Endless Summer,” which followed two surfers as they travelled the world "in search of the perfect wave.” It repainted the picture of surfers, who were seen as losers at the time.

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But, Bruce also had a passion for motorcycles, and so with the intention of doing what he had for surfing and with backing from fellow bike rider Steve McQueen, Brown made “On Any Sunday,” which was released in 1974.

“On Any Sunday” helped reshape the image of bikers and helped remove the stigma associated with motorcycle riding. It showed happy, well-adjusted youths out having a good time on two wheels and chronicled the wide variety of motorcycle sports across the globe from Baja to the International Six-Day Trials in Europe. Not to mention all the awesome shots of McQueen, Bud Eakins and Malcolm Smith having a blast racing across sand dunes

On the film “On Any Sunday”  Bruce said:  “I think many people changed their minds about motorcyclists after watching the movie,”

“One particularly funny story was told by Mert Lawwill. Being a motorcycle racer he was sort of considered the Black Sheep of the family. The old patriarch of the family, Lawwill’s grandmother-in-law, went to see the movie and in the middle of one of the scenes featuring Lawwill she stood up and shouted, ‘That’s my grandson!’ Suddenly he was the big hero of the family.”

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On Any Sunday struck a chord with youngsters. Kids were known to hide in theatre bathrooms between showings so they could watch the film two or three times in one day. Thousands of kids across the country would save any bit of money they had so they could buy a minibike.

Racers, like Malcolm Smith, who is a major focus of the film also credits “On Any Sunday” as the catalyst that catapulted him to worldwide recognition and enabled him to become a leading entrepreneur in the off-road motorcycling business.

Bruce's passion seems to have been passed down a generation. His son Dana is a filmmaker in his own right, having directed the Baja racing movie “Dust to “Glory,” along with the surfer film “Step Into Liquid,” and a sequel to “On Any Sunday” that featured interviews of many of the riders featured in the original film.

We want to thank Bruce for his legacy and pay our respects. If you haven't seen his films yet, do check them out.

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