More Bicycles in The Movies – Almira Gulch



Again on the subject of bicycles in the movies – have you ever noticed that with one notable exception, Almira Gulch in The Wizard of Oz, cyclists are nearly always portrayed in a positive light? We’re almost never the bad guys. Sure, Butch Cassidy might have been a bank robber, but we forget all that in the good feeling that comes over us as we watching the lovable rogue kid Harvey Logan in the groin, confound the law, and make armed robbery seem like a perfectly  wholesome activity. And never is the rogue  more likeable than when he’s pedalling around on that rattletrap old bicycle with Etta Place on the handlebars and amusing her afterwards with his trick riding in the farmyard, all to the tune of Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.

And that’s an armed robber. Generally cyclists in the movies are querulous old lady detectives, country vicars, lovelorn young men etc. Not leading man (or woman) types, but harmless character actors that flew out a scene or provide a bit of light-heartedness.

Not so Almira Gulch – a.k.a. The Wicked Witch, as brilliantly played by Margaret Hamilton. She’s a thoroughly nasty piece of work and oddly enough the bicycle – nearly always a symbol of innocence and niceness – plays a swell part of defining her character. The way she rides it (an Orient, c. 1900 model, made by Waltham), prim and upright, pedalling vigorously along the road, gleefully transporting Toto to his death, all to the strains of that brilliant seven-note riff by composer Herbert Stothart – perfect.


  4 comments for “More Bicycles in The Movies – Almira Gulch

  1. Beverley
    June 8, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Oh dear – I often hear that riff in my head while I’m pedalling along. Perhaps there’s a bit of the wicked witch in me!

    Back to the good guys on bikes. who could fail to be moved by the scene in E.T. when the boys get safely away by pedalling into the air, and Elliot cycles across the moon. Just fabulous.

  2. Roff Smith
    June 8, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Here’s a sad confession – I am possibly the only human being in the western world who has never seen ET

  3. Beverley
    June 8, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    No! A film where bicycles play such a critical role? I’m flabbergasted!

    • Beverley
      June 8, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      Here’s an ever sadder confession – I have the film if you would like to borrow it.

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