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Breaking Away (1979)

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A small-town boy obsessed with the Italian cycling team vies for the affections of a college girl.

Director:

Peter Yates

Writer:

Steve Tesich
Won 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dennis Christopher ... Dave
Dennis Quaid ... Mike
Daniel Stern ... Cyril
Jackie Earle Haley ... Moocher
Barbara Barrie ... Mom
Paul Dooley ... Dad
Robyn Douglass ... Katherine
Hart Bochner ... Rod
Amy Wright ... Nancy
Peter Maloney ... Doctor
John Ashton ... Mike's Brother
Lisa Shure Lisa Shure ... French Girl
Jennifer K. Mickel Jennifer K. Mickel ... Girl
P.J. Soles ... Suzy (as Pamela Jayne Soles)
David K. Blase David K. Blase ... 500 Race Announcer
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Storyline

Best friends Dave, Mike, Cyril and Moocher have just graduated from high school. Living in the college town of Bloomington, Indiana, they are considered "cutters": the working class of the town so named since most of the middle aged generation, such as their parents, worked at the local limestone quarry, which is now a swimming hole. There is great animosity between the cutters and the generally wealthy Indiana University students, each group who have their own turf in town. The dichotomy is that the limestone was used to build the university, which is now seen as being too good for the locals who built it. Although each of the four is a totally different personality from the other three, they also have in common the fact of being unfocused and unmotivated in life. The one slight exception is Dave. Although he has no job and doesn't know what to do with his life, he is a champion bicycle racer. He idolizes the Italian cycling team so much he pretends to be Italian, much to the chagrin... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Somewhere between growing up and settling down... [Australia Theatrical] See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance | Sport

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian | French

Release Date:

20 July 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bambino See more »

Filming Locations:

Highway 37/Dixie Highway See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,300,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$17,702, 15 July 1979, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$16,424,918
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At script level, the film originally existed in the form of two screenplays, one called "The Cutters" about the townie quarry workers, whilst the other, "The Eagle of Naptown", was about the Little 500 bike race. Both had been written by screenwriter Steve Tesich. The April 2000 edition of the magazine 'Indianapolis Monthly' says of this: "The screenplay that would eventually become Breaking Away (1979) was first titled The Eagle of Naptown. Director Peter Yates suggested combining it with another Tesich script, called The Cutters. He did, turning it into a script called Bambino". Reportedly, the "Bambino" title was then changed because it was felt that moviegoers would assume that the film was about Babe Ruth whose nick-name was "The Bambino". See more »

Goofs

I believe I saw on a campus scene a large "I" which I think is the logo for the University Of Illinois whereas the movie is in Indiana. See more »

Quotes

Dave: Italianos - like the nightingales they sing. Like the eagles they fly!
Dad: Speakin' of flies, eh, you brought a helluva lot of flies in with you.
Dave: Did you know that fly in Italian is 'mosca'?
Dad: Did you know in English it's 'pest'?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Introducing

Robyn Douglass See more »

Connections

Referenced in Reba: Skating Away (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphony No. 4 in A major (Italian Symphony), Op. 90
(uncredited)
Music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
See more »

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User Reviews

 
an important and neglected film
5 July 2003 | by charlie_bucketSee all my reviews

I was nine years old when I first saw 'Breaking Away', and I think the book adaptation may have been the first more-or-less novel-length thing I ever read. My wild enthusiasm after leaving the theatre was similar at the time to my previous reaction to 'Star Wars', a fact that I attribute to the natural electrical charge of the endings of both films.

Of course, a nine-year-old lacks the world experience to empirically understand the central messages of this film, and at the time my primary devotion to it was centered around Dave Stoller's orange Masi racing bike, a thing that I coveted with the passions of a kid on Christmas Eve.

The movie made me mad with bicycle lust, and I frowned on every Huffy I saw at school. I used to draw pictures of Masi, Bianchi and Olmo bikes all the time after seeing this, and I shamelessly begged my parents for an Italian-made, Campagnolo-equipped racer - a futile thing to do, as my parents knew not to purchase something that expensive for a boy who would physically out-grow a pair of Levis within a school year. Ultimately, I was propelled into the worship of Eddy Merckx while all my classmates were digging into their Terry Bradshaw Topps cards, unaware - as I'm positive they still are - of who the hell Eddy Merckx even is.

BUT...'Breaking Away' is not just a bicycle film - not by a long-shot, and I knew it then too, but that just wasn't very important to me at a time when bicycles were all-important.

Despite my youthful energies, I never did pursue bicycle racing,(although I am definitely a touring enthusiast whose passion for Italian-made bicycles has finally seen fruition) but 'Breaking Away' never left me. It was the REST of the film that eventually got to me - and somewhat later in life - when my emotions and experiences with the world ran deeper.

In short, this film explores many strands: the aimlessness of youth colliding with the responsibilities of adulthood; the often heartbreaking romantic fantasies of people who wish they could be something else; lying and cheating and the false nature of gains made through them; the importance of strong family relations and friendships; and life in small-town America - and it does all this with extraordinary craft, honesty and sensitivity. It's beautiful, and more importantly, it is soulful and original. Although certainly dated in appearance, I'll even toss in the cliche that it is *timeless*, because the themes and characters are so.

The characters themselves are all wonderfully brought out by the perfect casting - it's been said here, but the fact that Dennis Christopher never achieved star-status is truly a shame and a waste of a potentially amazing talent. He played the lead role with a believable intensity and a really quite perfect understanding of his character. Dave Stoller's painful self-realization after the Cinzano race was as memorable a job of acting as I can think of. Paul Dooley and Barbara Barry were also wonderful, as were Quaid, Stern and Haley - every one of them created a personality for their characters, both in dialogue and physical reaction. The rest of the cast was likewise fine, each actor doing the best they could with what were sometimes stock roles (the college kids, for example, including Robyn Douglas, the female romantic role)

The direction, story and, most especially, the dialogue were great as well.

I also picked up a love of Mendelssohn and Rossini when I was just a kid after seeing this - the film score was superb, all the while taking the Stanley Kubrick/Woody Allen approach by choosing some choice compositions of a time long past, rather than belabor the audience with the refried horrors so typical of modern film-score composition.

I hope this movie doesn't become a relic - it seems its own sleeper status has kept it shelved over the years. Mention it to just about any American born before 1975, and they'll know what it is, but only in the way I did when I was nine: they'll usually say something like, "oh yeah, the bicycle film! I remember that one", and then they'll likely have little else to say about it, which is a shame. I still whole-heartedly place this movie among my very favorites every time, and I trumpet it whenever I get into discussions with other people about the movies I love.


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