Thursday, 10 July 2008

" Hang in There"

Whilst surfing the other day I visited and clicked on the pages for the Harley Sportster. Here amongst other useful stuff I uncovered a true gem. The site talks about an old TV series featuring a Sportster riding hero.

Then Came Bronson is a short-lived adventure/drama television series that aired on NBC from 1969 to 1970, and was produced by MGM Television. It began with a movie pilot March 1969. The series was greenlit for one year and began its first run on September 17, 1969. The pilot was also released in Europe as a feature film.The series featured Michael Parks as the protagonist Jim Bronson, a newspaperman who becomes disillusioned after the suicide of his best friend Nick (Martin Sheen) and, after a heated argument with his editor, "working for the man."In order to renew his soul, Bronson becomes a nomadic vagabond searching for the meaning of life and experience what life has to offer (as revealed in the series pilot). During his travels, he shares his values with the people he meets along the way and lends a helping hand when he can. Bronson rides a Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle and, as such, was viewed by some as a modern version of the solitary cowboy wandering the American west.Curiously, though the opening promised a journey of self-discovery, the premise of each episode was that Bronson enters someone else's life at a crucial point and acted as a catalyst for change. When Bronson encounters an Amish community, for example, a local boy becomes enraptured of the outside world and steals Bronson's bike to run off to Reno, Nevada. In another episode, located in Reno, Nevada, Bronson meets his cousin Eve on her wedding day and lends her money for the wedding service, but she runs off to the casinos and blows it.Yet, Bronson is committed to pacifism and often redirects a competitor's anger into self-examination. Always, like a true catalyst, he rolls out of every episode unchanged.The show sometimes faced the perception that it was a knock-off of the movie Easy Rider, but it actually preceded the release of that movie.Scenes were mostly shot outdoors, which made for spectacular views, and Michael Parks employed the low-key "James Dean" method of acting. Some shows were funny, some sad, some serious.The bikeBronson's bike figures in the many episodes; Harley-Davidson Sportster 1968 XLH 883. In one episode he entered several bike races; in another, he made an emergency run to fetch a doctor. But in some stories the bike was merely transportation. Full specs on the various bikes used in the filming can be found at the website The show was controversial in that it featured a motorcycle "biker" when images of Hells Angels and Vietnam War protesters were on the minds of many Americans. Bronson proved to be a gentle soul who seldom got angry or raised his voice, and he helped people improve their lives with guiding words or a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. In that way, he manifested the hippie's ideal of leading and living a good life by example. Rather than seek to convert people to his values, he sought to lead them to their own true knowledge and to "do their own thing in their own space and time."CastMichael Parks, had acted on television and starred in three anti-establishment movies, Wild Seed, The Happening, and Bus Riley's Back In Town. He went on to a steady career in drive-in horror movies and TV shows. He recorded three pop/jazz albums: Long Lonesome Highway, Closing the Gap, Blue, and several gospel albums.MusicThe opening instrumental theme song was titled, "Then Came Bronson" and was written and performed by George Duning. The closing vocal theme for the series was titled, "Long Lonesome Highway," sung by Parks and written by James Hendricks and was a Billboard Hot 100 hit reaching #20 1970. The pilot movie was released in Europe as a theatrical film that included a topless scene when Bonnie Bedelia strips off her wedding gown.Series openingThe opening of the show served as a metaphor for the premise of the show: getting away from the "big city" and leading a more simplistic life. The opening begins with Bronson driving up to a red light in San Francisco and he briefly chats with a commuter. The scene also introduces Bronson's signature-phrase which he used often in the episodes, "Hang in there."