General Bicycle Movies
Beijing Bicycle (AKA Shiqi sui de dan che) (2001)
“Guei gets a job as a messenger. The company issues him a bike, which he must pay for out of his wages. When it is stolen, Guei hunts for it. A student, Jian, has it; for him, it’s the key to teen society – with his pals and with Xiao, a girl he fancies. Guei finds the bike and stubbornly tries to reclaim it in the face of great odds. But for Jian to lose the bike would mean humiliation. The two young men – and the people around them – are swept up in the youths’ desperation.” — from the IMDB
The Bicycle Thief (AKA Ladri di Biciclette) (1948)
A world classic and indisputable masterpiece about an Italian workman who finds a job, only to have the bike he needs for work stolen; he and his son search Rome for it. A simple story that seems to contain the whole of human experience, and the masterpiece of Italian neo-realism. Based on the book by Luigi Bartolini. In Italian with English subtitles. (Slade says: There’s a 1986 remake of this set in NYC and directed by Norman Loftis called called “Messenger”. Out of print, never released on DVD, may be able to find used VHS. Xenon Entertainment Group version (1995) is duplicated in EP mode.)
BMX Bandits (1983, Nicole Kidman)
Three adventurous Aussie teens put their BMX skills to the test when they witness a crime and are pursued by the criminals.
Cyclo (1995, 123 min., Vietnamese)
Slade says: “Starts off with the familiar Bicycle Thief riff – young man needs bicycle (bicycle taxi in this case) for survival, bike is stolen by bad guys. That takes place in the first twenty minutes and that’s it for the bike, except that there are many street scenes throughout, with lots of bicycles, tricycles, biketaxis and motorbikes. This is a well-made and interesting film, but there is lots of violence and it can be hard to follow. It is a dark and depressing film start to finish, set entirely in the criminal underground of Saigon. I would recommend reading some of the reviews at Amazon.” (Amazon)
The Day I Became a Woman (2000, Iran)
Three shorts about the experiences of women in Iran. “The second part is about a young woman who decides to enter a bicycle race against her husband’s wishes. As first the husband and then increasing numbers of men from the village ride beside her to convince her to return home, the race begins to symbolize a freedom she desperately wants from the limitations which have been placed on her.” From the IMDB.
Jitensha (2009, Japan)
“Jitensha” (or “Bicycle”) is a story about Mamoru Amagaya, a young man struggling to find meaning in life. A co-worker confronts Mamoru on his apparent apathy toward life, and this results in Mamoru leaving his job out of humiliation. Now alone and without work, just as it seems that things could not possibly get worse, parts of Mamoru’s bicycle begin to disappear, one by one. In frustration, Mamoru leaves a note for the thief, begging him to just take the whole thing. The note left in response is signed “God”, leaving Mamoru only more confused. At last, when the only remaining piece of the bicycle is a lonely bell, Mamoru receives an envelope, containing addresses at which each piece of the bicycle might be retrieved. Puzzled yet intrigued, Mamoru embarks on a journey to resurrect and reassemble his beloved possession. As he seeks out each piece of the missing whole, Mamoru begins to discover that he himself is in a healing process. As he puts his bike together piece by piece, he realizes that he himself is in the process of being reassembled in the same way, by one far greater than himself. (from the producer’s website) (added June 2010)
Jour de fête (1949, France)
A French comedy in which a letter carrier tries to modernize delivery methods by using a bicycle. (more at the IMDB)
Messengers (1999, Japan)
“Naomi, a successful fashion press agent, is having a bad day. Her business is shut down, everything she has is repossesed, and she accidentally runs down a bicycle messenger with her car. To get out of paying for the messenger’s medical bills, she agrees to take his place at the struggling courier company he and his friend run. Though she hates the job at first, she soon comes to see its good points, and helps the company’s owner, Suzuki, to win a valuable courier contract away from a bullying motorcycle messenger service.” (from the IMDB)
Nebraska Supersonic (1999, 75 min.)
“In Omaha, Nebraska, three slackers–all sub-par French majors–start a business that should not succeed on the vast Great Plains: a bicycle courier service. Through comic adventures, personal challenges, and while charging only two dollars per 120-mile delivery, their business becomes a resounding success.” (Official website)
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985. Paul Reubens, Jan Hooks, Phil Hartman. Music by Danny Elfman)
Zany, endearing comedy about an adult nerd’s many adventures while attempting to recover his stolen bicycle. Chock full of classic sequences, including a bar room encounter between Pee Wee and several ornery bikers, and a tour through the Alamo. A colorful, exhilarating experience.
Quicksilver (1986. Kevin Bacon, Rudy Ramos, Larry Fishburne, Louie Anderson)
A young stockbroker loses all, then quits his job to become a city bicycle messenger.
Rush It (1977)
Bike messengers fall in love.
The Unknown Cyclist (1998)
“A man’s dying wish is for the people in his life to participate in a 450-mile charity bicycle ride through Northern California.” (5.7 on IMDB)
Motor Mania (1950, Disney)
A highly-prescient six-minute feature that shows how the peaceful Mr. Walker transforms into the aggressive, selfish Mr. Wheeler as soon as he gets behind the wheel, terrorizing pedestrians and other drivers. It’s shocking how long ago some had figured all this out. (Full video on YouTube)
Muppet Movies (1979 & 1981))
The Muppet Movie in 1979 delighted audiences with a short scene of Kermit riding a bicycle — being no easy feat to film a puppet riding a bike, especially in the era before computer-generated graphics! The sequel, 1981’s The Great Muppet Caper, tops that with a long scene of Kermit and Miss Piggy riding bikes side by side through a park, singing to each other, “Pretty day, sunny sky, lovely pictures dance in your eyes. It all seems so right. It all feels so rare. Summer song, sudden breeze, watch the wind play tags in the trees. The world is so right, so perfectly fair. Why couldn’t we fly? I know we’d get by. Sunny sky, pretty day, just a push and we’re on the way. Yes, couldn’t we ride, side by side?” Another shot in this scene shows a total of eight (count ’em) muppets riding bikes.
Other sites with their own lists:
- Filmed by Bike. A film festival of shorts (8 minutes or less) with bike themes, though not necessarily filmed while riding.