Breaking Away had a cinema release in 1979, and it has finally been released on DVD.
It’s apt that this release occurs during the Tour de France, with cycling a central component of the plot. Set in Indiana it’s a coming of age story of four working class friends, Dave, Mike, Cyril and Moocher. They’re post- high school graduation, not sure of, or not making known in a couple of instances, the next step in their lives.
The central character is Dave Stoller, who, having won an Italian bicycle, has made cycling the biggest part of his life. More than that, he decides to ‘be’ Italian. This, along with his seeming to be content to just drift aimlessly along with his friends sets up a combative, and somewhat comedic, relationship with his father.
Their hometown is a college town, and the four friends, sneeringly called ‘cutters’ by the collegiate set, find themselves in opposition to the money and seemingly boundless opportunities available to the students. All the aggression and competition with the students comes to a head, leading to a brawl. To resolve their issues the city elders decide that the town enter a team in Indiana University’s Little 500 bike race. What follows is blood, sweat, tears, and duct tape.
Breaking Away was a breakthrough film for the four leads. They did go on and do bigger things, some bigger than others, but if you’re a movie lover you’ll recognise all four. Dennis Christopher who plays Dave, went on to appear in Chariots of Fire, and now has a role on the TV show Deadwood. Dennis Quaid plays Mike and is probably the most well-known of the fours – he went on to make a lot of films, including The Right Stuff, Traffic and The Big Easy. Daniel Stern plays Cyril, and you’re sure to remember his face from the Home Alone and City Slickers movies, and his voice as the narrator in The Wonder Years. Jackie Earle Haley plays Moocher, and went on to have a stop/start career. Fans of the film Watchmen, it was Haley that played the Rorschach character. And Dave’s father is played by Paul Dooley, who is, as he always is in his many roles in film and TV, brilliant.
This is a ‘little’ movie, with a big heart, indie in feel and in the style of other movies of the late 1970s, it has a gritty realism. This time it’s not the grimy inner city streets, it’s the dusty, wide streets of middle America.
Breaking Away has long been a favourite of mine, and I hope a few of you out there in out there land get to see it, either those that remember how good it was, or those seeing it for the first time.
Breaking Away DVD price
Breaking Away is available now, and has an RRP of $29.99.
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