This past Thanksgiving, Philadelphia Inquirer movie critic Steven Rea launched a whimsical blog at Tumblr. Titled “Rides a Bike,” it honors those halcyon days when movie stars rode around Hollywood backlots on bicycles.
Many of the photos depict timeless pairings, such as Audrey Hepburn with her dog Mr. Famous or Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth riding tandem. There’s also the somewhat incongruous two-wheeled taming of men of action like Sean Connery and Steve McQueen.
“I have a stock of 30 or so more photos, and am constantly on the prowl,” Rea tells FishbowlLA via Facebook. “In the 1930s-60s, at least, all the studios had fleets of bikes, so a lot of these are backlot pics.”
Rea commutes to and from the Inquirer and screenings on a 1970s rod-brake Raleigh. “My wife also rides, and together, right now, we have 13 bikes, the oldest from World War II era, the newest a Brompton folding bike,” he explains. Beyond obvious bike-themed movies The Bicycle Thief and Breaking Away, the 57-year-old critic also cites Karel Reisz’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.
“It stars a very young Albert Finney working at the Raleigh factory in Nottingham,” says Rea. “That’s a gem of a film, and also one teeming with great old bikes. I’m still trying to get my hands on a still with Finney on his cycle.”
Our personal Rea photo favorite is the shot (pictured) of Rear Window co-stars James Stewart and Grace Kelly. Whether planned or by accident, the nighttime illumination of the silver screen princess is something to behold.