Who would have thunk it?
Well, there has been a book on movies stars in bathtubs, so why not?
Steven Rea, film critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer, decided to marry his two obsessions—films and biking—into one book. The result is the delightfully offbeat Hollywood Rides a Bike: Cycling with the Stars.
In this 160-page hardcover book, Rea presents scores of photos that he’s collected over the years with pithy descriptions of what’s going on in the images. All of them have famous or not-so-famous actors, actresses or directors riding all sorts of bicycles, from racing bikes to touring bikes to stationary bikes to high-wheelers.
The photos range from publicity stills to behind-the-scenes shots to stills taken from movies. Going through the book is like taking a whirlwind tour of Tinseltown in a breezy, on-a-bike fashion.
The tour has some unusual stops. There’s a two-page spread of real-life couple Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward on French road bikes during production of 1953’s A New Kind of Love, with rear screen scenery being projected and crew members holding a fan for proper moving effect. There’s a not-so-happy Nat King Cole on an exercycle, dressed to the Hollywood nines in a Santa outfit, carrying sporting goods in a sack to hand out. Then there’s Alfred Hitchcock, near a dock at the Cannes Film Festival while pushing 1972’s Frenzy. The director sits on a flag-enshrouded bike, as a yacht’s mast from the background looks like an antenna coming out from his head.
Many of the stars of Hollywood’s “Golden Age” are represented here: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, James Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Fred Astaire, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Shirley Temple, etc., etc. There are photos that showcase such beauties as Rita Hayworth, Hedy Lamarr, Claudia Cardinale, Brigitte Bardot and Betty Grable in their natural pedal-pushing environments, proving that they were as gorgeous off the screen as they were as on. There are stills from iconic bike scenes in such offerings as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (with Paul Newman and Katherine Ross), Breaking Away (Dennis Christopher) and The Sound of Music (Julie Andrews and the Von Trapp kids singing “Do Re Mi” on German-Austrian cycles).
In all, Hollywood Rides a Bike: Cycling with the Stars offers an appropriately breezy appreciation of all things movies and all things bicycles. You will also learn something about its starry subjects and their modes of transportation as you survey it. It puts the “moving” in “moving pictures.”
(For more information about Hollywood Rides a Bike: Cycling with the Stars, go to angelcitypress.com)