Secret Cinema presents Hollywood Rides a Bike

Just a cut-and-paste:

On Thursday, April 26, The Secret Cinema will bring its projectors to yet another new venue, to collaborate with Inquirer film critic Steven Rea in a combined live presentation and film screening called HOLLYWOOD RIDES A BIKE — a two-part celebration of 20th-century cycling culture.

HOLLYWOOD RIDES A BIKE: CYCLING WITH THE STARS is the name of Rea’s brand-new book (Angel City Press), consisting of vintage photographs of bike-riding stars from the movies’ golden age. Steven will present a carefully chosen slide show based on the book, displaying how often bicycles found their way into the studios’ publicity photos. His narration will comment on the images’ origin and on the varied bike hardware shown, graced by a range of movie royalty from Shirley Temple to Brigitte Bardot. Rea will also answer questions about his dual passions of movies and cycling. (NOTE: This presentation will be a different one than that recently given at the Central Library).

Following the still photos, we’ll show an assortment of short films about bikes, ranging from retro educational shorts to old newsreels to a beloved New Wave auteur’s earliest surviving work (these films have mostly never been shown by Secret Cinema before)

There will be one complete screening at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

This special program will be the Secret Cinema’s debut screening at the Broad Street Ministry. BSM fosters the arts as an expression of imagination, beauty and a medium to raise social consciousness. The century-old Chambers-Wylie church building, in the heart of the city (across from the Kimmel Center) boasts a large and beautiful space that we are excited to set up in.

Just a few highlights from HOLLYWOOD RIDES A BIKE (the films) are:

BICYCLE THRILLS (1951, Dir: Harry Foster) – This fast-paced entry from Columbia Pictures’ newsreel series “Bill Stern’s World of Sports” finds the legendary sportscaster bringing theater audiences close-up looks at “the Butcher Boy Sweepstakes” (a race of bicycling delivery men); velodrome racing in Holland (“The names of the riders are as familiar to the Dutch as the name of Joe DiMaggio is to us.”); and a startling look at Amsterdam’s rush hour, jam-packed with self-propelled vehicles.

HANDLEBARS (1933, Dir: Jules White) – From the one-reel series “MGM Oddities.” After working as a movie critic and a press agent, Pete Smith launched one of the longest careers in the once prevalent world of theatrical short films. Starting with a series called “Fisherman’s Paradise,” and ending with over 200 “Pete Smith Specialties,” he created topical newsreels, compilations of old footage, and short gag scenes, all marked by Smith’s breezy, pun-filled, wise-guy narration. HANDLEBARS (directed by prolific Three Stooges director White) offers a comical history of the bicycle, with satiric recreations illustrating its evolution. From a pedal-less, brakeless vehicle to its modern (1933) state-of-the-art.

LES MISTONS (1957, Dir: Francois Truffaut) – Truffaut’s second short film (the first is lost) is charming, bittersweet, and visually lovely. It chronicles a group of mischievous boys who follow and torment a beautiful older girl (Bernadette Lafont, later to star in the director’s SUCH A GORGEOUS KID LIKE ME) as she rides her cycle through the French countryside to rendezvous with her boyfriend.

PAUL GORDON: BICYCLE TRICKS (1951, Dir: unknown) – Snader/Studio Telescriptions offered canned filler programming in the form of small reels of 16mm film that were sold outright to early television stations, to schedule as they pleased. The films captured studio-set bound performances of usually musical guests, from Mel Torme to Korla Pandit, but occasionally veered towards novelty acts — such as this circus trick bike rider doing his thing for an imaginary audience.

Plus BICYCLING ON THE SAFE SIDE (197?), and more.




Author: Eric Bresler

Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *