April 20th, 2013: Breaking Away (1979)

Cast and Crew:  Hart Bochner, John Ashton, P.J. Soles

What It’s About: Dave Stoller (Dennis Christopher) and his friends Mike (Dennis Quaid), Cyril (Daniel Stern) and Moocher (Jackie Earle Haley) are adrift after graduating from high school.  The work that supported their fathers-cutting stone taken from local quarries-is mostly gone, and none of them want to go to college or take menial jobs in retail.  Dave’s passion is bicycle racing and, especially, Italian cyclists, to the point where he speaks in an “Italian” accent, which exasperates his middle of the road parents (Paul Dooley and Barbara Barrie).  The townies are known as “Cutters” to the college kids, who look down on them.  Through a series of events,  the friends end up competing in The Little 500, the big bicycle race held at Indiana University each spring.

Why Watch it Today?: The 63rd annual Little 500 runs today.  Peter Yates directed this sleeper hit about family, friends, small town life, identity, and growing up and apart (not to mention cycling), managing with equal aplomb drama, comedy, and exhilarating cycling scenes.  So much of the film, especially Dave’s eccentricities and his romance with sorority girl Katherine (Robyn Douglass) might not have worked in other hands, but the excellent cast, a true-to-life script that avoids some of Hollywood’s most beloved clichés, and Yates direction help make Breaking Away one of the best coming-of-age films.

Where to Get ItLibraries, Netflix or Amazon

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