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Breaking Away

Breaking Away

5.0 6
Director: Peter Yates,

Cast: Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern


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Dennis Christopher stars as a recent high school graduate in Bloomington, Indiana, who is caught with his friends -- Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley -- coasting between high school and deciding what to do with the rest of their lives. The four friends are snobbishly looked down upon by the college students of the town as "cutters," since they were born


Dennis Christopher stars as a recent high school graduate in Bloomington, Indiana, who is caught with his friends -- Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley -- coasting between high school and deciding what to do with the rest of their lives. The four friends are snobbishly looked down upon by the college students of the town as "cutters," since they were born in Bloomington and their parents worked in the local limestone quarries that built the university. Dennis Christopher's character Dave wants to be a champion bicycle racer and he idolizes the Italian racing team -- so much so that he speaks, thinks, and acts Italian, all to his father's (Paul Dooley) forlorn exasperation. Dave falls for a college girl (Robyn Douglass), but is ashamed to admit he is a cutter and poses as an Italian exchange student to impress her. Dave is particularly excited when his heroes -- the Italian racers -- come to town for a race. But they are even more snobbish than the college students and rely on dirty tricks to keep Dave from winning a race against them. After that ordeal, Dave throws away his false identity and convinces his friends to enter the university's "Little 500" bicycle race against the college students. This light-hearted and heartwarming tale was a surprising word-of-mouth success at the box-office and won several awards, including an Academy Award for "Best Screenplay."

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
A Midwest American college town in the 1970s is the setting for this coming-of-age tale about four working-class teens who are trying to escape their parents' working class fates. Class consciousness and conflicts abound, as local college kids refer disparagingly to the protagonists as "Cutters." The blue-collar stone-cutters literally built the homes the rich kids live in and the college that these kids attend. Dennis Christopher is Dave, a relentlessly fanatical bicyclist who has suddenly decided to embrace all things Italian (right down to a tacky Italian accent), and his naïve but enthusiastic portrayal is sweet. Paul Dooley gives the film's most memorable performance as Dave's exasperated father. His character undergoes a quiet transformation from a cynical, weary, and worried fellow into a cagey optimist. Dooley was overlooked come Oscar time, though Barbara Barrie was nominated for her memorably wistful turn as Dave's mother. Breaking Away has a gentle soul, as nobody is too harshly treated (even the bad guys seem to have good sides). The central characters have dreams, but they wonder if those dreams are attainable. Dave's enthusiastic pursuit of his dream gives all the others hope, and it is the hinge upon which the crowd-rousing (though thoroughly predictable) bicycle-racing finale turns. Bike racing is the film's metaphor for escape: to break away from the pack in a race is equivalent to breaking away from one's familial and cultural history. The film pivots on the question of whether, and to what extent, this kind of breaking away is either necessary or desirable. Nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, Breaking Away won one Oscar, for Steve Tesich's Best Original Screenplay.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Dennis Christopher Dave Stohler
Dennis Quaid Mike
Daniel Stern Cyril
Paul Dooley Mr. Stohler
Jackie Earle Haley Moocher
Barbara Barrie Mrs. Stohler
Robyn Douglass Katherine
Hart Bochner Rod
Amy Wright Nancy
David K. Blace Race Announcer
Peter Maloney Doctor
John Ashton Mike's Brother
Lisa Shure French Girl
Jennifer K. Mickel Girl
P.J. Soles Suzy

Technical Credits
Peter Yates Director,Producer
Bud Alper Sound/Sound Designer
Patrizia Von Brandenstein Art Director
Betsy Cox Costumes/Costume Designer
Matthew Leonetti Cinematographer
Art Levinson Producer
Cynthia Scheider Editor
Steve Tesich Screenwriter
Marvin Westmore Makeup
Patrick Williams Score Composer


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Breaking Away 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's a shame that this movie is so underground; it's truly a masterpiece. It has the perfect amount of drama, romance, comedy, and everything in between. It is a true family movie, with no sex, violence and minimal language, and content that children and adults of any age can identify with. Truly a great film.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've loved this movie ever since I first saw it in 1979. All the characters are so real and so similar to people I grew up with that I instantly identified with them. Even though Dave's efforts to become Italian are over the top at times, his ambitions are so sincere and altruistic that you can't help rooting for him. And the scene where Dave's father goes back to visit the quarry where he used to work is a miniature gem in it's own right. The other cutters and his relationship with them rang absolutely true. I still get a little teary during that scene because it has so many echoes of people and places I've known in my own life. The other performances are likewise praiseworthy, as is the script, the camera work, etc. This is not only a great story and a great movie, but will provide great material for family or classroom discussions of social class, hero worship, determination and aspiration, friendship, and many other themes. And unlike so many coming-of-age movies in recent years, there is virtually no violence, no sex, and the language is mostly clean. Three other scenes to watch for: 1) The scene where Dave is tailgating the 18-wheeler is real. Yes, bicycle racers really can pedal that fast! 2) In the encounter with the Italian team, non-bicyclists sometimes wonder where the pipe-like object came from. It's a small tire pump carried in case of a flat during a race where there's no support crew trailing along. 3) The "punch the clock scene" got a loud cheer when I saw this film in a theater full of mostly blue-collar people, and a loud gasp when I saw it in a theater with a mostly white-collar audience. (That, in itself, is an interesting topic for friendly discussions) Why I Recommend "Spirited Away" and "Easy Rider": Spirited Away is a wonderful, family friendly, coming of age story loved by countless people. It works as fantasy, inspiration, and in every other way. It's one of my top five movie favorites of all time. Easy Rider, on the other hand is great for exactly the opposite reasons. These two guys are neither very admirable, nor very bad as it turns out, and on their ride across America we get an unblinking look at what the late sixties were really like. Watching it for the first time after many years, I was struck by how fair and even handed it was in protraying both sides of the cultural divide. It's another great discussion starter.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am buying 2 copies... so I can always have one & still loan one out. It is a fantastic example of the unsinkable human spirit. A real pleasure to watch again & again. Also perfect to share when you've got a point to make.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great movie. It is heartfelt, funny and moving. The relationships between family and friends are so real. It was made in 1979 but feels timeless. Please see this movie!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's a story the we can all identify with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago