breaking away from pack

Breaking Away

Breaking Away is a 1979 film that tells the story of four teenagers in Bloomington, Indiana who have graduated from high school and are not sure what they want to do with their lives, other than hang out and go swimming in an abandoned limestone quarry. It stars Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern (his first film role), Jackie Earle Haley, Barbara Barrie and Paul Dooley. The movie was written by Steve Tesich and directed by Peter Yates.

It won the 1979 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Barbara Barrie), Best Director, Best Music, Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Best Adaptation Score and Best Picture.

The film is 8th on the List of America's 100 Most Inspiring Movies compiled by The American Film Institute in 2006. In June 2008, AFI revealed its "Ten top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Breaking Away was acknowledged as the eighth best film in the sports genre.

In 1980, a television series prequel, also titled Breaking Away was released.

Plot summary

Dave (Dennis Christopher), Mike (Dennis Quaid), Cyril (Daniel Stern) and Moocher (Jackie Earle Haley) live in a state college town and often get into fights with some of the male students. Dave is obsessed with bicycle racing. His down-to-earth, blue-collar father Raymond (Paul Dooley) is puzzled and exasperated by his son's love of Italian music and culture, which the son associates with bicycle racers. However, his mother Evelyn (Barbara Barrie) is more understanding. In a humorous interlude, Dave pretends to be an Italian exchange student in order to romance an unsuspecting university coed (Robyn Douglass), even serenading her one evening outside her sorority house window.

When a professional Italian bicycling team (Team Cinzano) comes to town for a race, Dave is thrilled to be competing with them. But during the race, the Italians become annoyed when he is able to keep up with them, and force him to crash. Dave becomes disillusioned and depressed as a result. Meanwhile, Dave's father has a mild heart attack and is briefly incapacitated.

His friends talk Dave into forming a team for the annual Indiana University Little 500 bicycle race in an effort to beat a group of frat boys at their own game. They race under the name "Cutters" (a reference to stonecutters who worked in the limestone quarries in southern Indiana) against university intramural teams. Although the Little 500 is a relay race, Dave does all the riding for his team, building up a sizable lead. Then he crashes and injures his leg. At first, his teammates just stand around in shock - they didn't expect to have to do anything - but then Moocher jumps on the bike and does his best. When he tires, the other two do their part as well. However, they gradually lose the lead, then drop farther and farther behind. At that point, Dave has them tape his feet to the pedals, the only way he can ride, and gets back into the race. He overtakes the leader on the last corner and wins.

Dave's father, who's been prescribed bike riding for his health, is very proud of him. Later, he greets his son, only to have Dave reply in French. The French are also a bicycling power, and Dave has just met a French exchange student.


Dooley and Christopher also played father and son in the 1978 film A Wedding and in the 2003 Law & Order: Criminal Intent television episode "Cherry Red". Barrie, Haley, and Ashton continued their roles in the prequel TV series.

Real-life inspiration

The Little 500 bicycle race that forms the centerpiece of the plot is an actual race held annually at Indiana University. A reenactment of the race was staged for the film in the "old" Memorial Stadium on the IU campus, which was demolished shortly after the filming of the movie.

The team is based on the 1962 Phi Kappa Psi Little 500 champions, which featured legendary rider and Italian enthusiast Dave Blase, who provided screenwriter and fellow Phi Kappa Psi team member Steve Tesich the inspiration for the main character in the movie. Blase, together with team manager Bob Stohler, provided the name of this character: Dave Stohler. In the 1962 race, Blase rode 139 out of 200 laps and was the victory rider crossing the finish line, much like the main character in the film. Blase himself appears in the movie as the race announcer.

Bollywood Adaptation

The Bollywood movie Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar is highly inspired from Breaking Away.

Television series

The television series is a prequel to the film, set during the previous year. Barrie, Haley and Ashton reprised their roles.Cast:

Episode Summaries
# Title Director Writer(s) Airdate

In Popular Culture

In the 2005 Homestar Runner Halloween special, Homestar went as Moocher, complete with Cutters shirt.

On the 2008 release Stay Positive by the band The Hold Steady, a song called "One for the Cutters" appears to be a reference to this movie.


External links

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