With the Oscars airing tonight, I've decided to put together my list of the top ten bicycle movies. Your list may differ. Some movies - like Quicksilver - aren't included, because I haven't seen them.
10. (tie) Better Off Dead and The Man With One Red Shoe. Neither of these is really a movie about bikes or cycling, but both feature bikes prominently (the second in DC). TMWORS is the movie that made me want to learn how to balance on my bike when not moving. Better Off Dead made me want to learn how to make French food.
9. The Straight Story - David Lynch's least David Lynch-like film is this quiet road/travel movie that takes place in Iowa. One scene takes place during RAGBRAI. It's a great shot when he's riding his lawnmower and suddenly there are hundreds of cyclists passing him
8. Life is Beautiful (La Vita e Bella) - It seems the whole first half of the movie takes place on bikes.
7. American Flyers - Tons of bike race scenes, archaic Cold War subplot, cheesy 80's rock and Kevin Costner with a mustache. What more can you ask for?
6. BMX Bandits - The single greatest Australian movie about bank robber-foiling, BMX bike-riding teens ever. Nicole Kidman can win as many Oscars as she likes, but she'll always be Judy - on whom I had a very strong pre-teen crush - from BMX bandits to me. [My own personal innocence ended when I saw her topless in Dead Calm - a pretty good movie even if there are no bikes, no bank robbers and no walkie talkies]
5. Les Triplettes de Belleville - Guy is kidnapped during the Tour de France. The song and the dog are the reasons to see this movie.
4. ET: the Extra-Terrestrial - Climactic Nicole Kidman-less BMX bike chase, ends with iconic shot of bicycle passing, spaceship-like, in front of the moon.
3. Pee Wee's Big Adventure - The story of a rebel and his bike. Still includes best method for proving one is in Texas. Possibly derivative of the next film on the list...
2. The Bicycle Thief (Ladri di bicicletta) - Brilliant, powerful film in which it's easy to hate the bad guys (I hoped after the Cold War that "bicycle thieves" would be the new film heavy. Instead they went with terrorists. Stupid Hollywood).
1. Breaking Away - Way better than Kramer vs. Kramer this should have won the best movie Oscar. If you have not seen this, bike out and rent it right now. Seriously.
So yes, three foreign films, several that only tangentially involve bikes and a heavy dose of late 70s early 80s films. Let the complaining begin...now.