Friday, March 14, 2014

647. Breaking Away (1979)

Running Time: 100 minutes
Directed By: Peter Yates
Written By: Steve Tesich
Main Cast: Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley, Paul Dooley
Click here to view the trailer

Note: It has just been brought to my attention that not only has yours truly begun tracking progress in the "1001 Albums..." list, but Amanda (of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die) has been doing it for quite sometime now and has made some huge progress. And get this - she's also been tackling the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die List and has made considerable progress there as well. Surely this is one girl that deserves your attention, so please swing by and give her a visit. Between the movies, the music and the literature, surely there's something over there to catch your fancy. Click here for her 1001 Albums blog and here for her 1001 Books blog and find her 1001 Movies blog in the BlogRoll!


This has been on the streaming portion of Netflix for literally years and I've been passing it by ever since. I could tell by the cover art that it was a movie about a bicyclist, but that's really all I knew. I was kind of surprised at how much fun this little known flick from '79 had in store for me. Read on...

The Quarrymen! No, not the Beatles! We're talking about the four main boys from the picture, including a young Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley and the star, Dennis Christopher

The film revolves around Dave Stoller (Christopher), who has recently won an Italian racing bicycle and enters the world of competitive cycling. He's also an admitted Italianophile, who wallpapers his room with cycling posters of Italian racing teams and logos. His three best friends in the world are Mike (Quaid), Moocher (Haley) and Cyril (Stern) and he gathers with them daily at a local quarry, in their small Illinois hometown, where they go swimming and think about their futures, or lack thereof. It's the support that Dave finds with his buds, that he's lacking at home, as his father is more than worried about him; wanting nothing more than for Dave to get a job and get his life on track. Dave flirts with the idea of taking college entrance exams, but gets caught up literally flirting with college girl Katherine, who attends Indiana University. The trouble is, is that upon their initial meeting, Dave, who's always donning an Italian accent, makes Katherine think he's a genuine Italian exchange student and now he must cover up the truth or risk breaking her heart. Meanwhile, there's a long standing feud between the students who attend Illinois U. and the town kids (called "Cutters") and it is only egged on further by the hot-headed Mike. It all boils down to a university cycling race, in which the Cutters are allowed to enter.


Probably the best scene in film, where David rides behind a eighteen wheeler, with the driver giving him his speed out the window, using his fingers. 

This may be the most cookie cutter, overly sentimental film I've ever seen. We've got daddy issues, which are resolved with a long walk & talk and culminate with daddy running down the the big race, just in time to cheer on his boy. We've got girl issues, where a case of mistaken identity threatens to disrupt a blossoming romance, complete with guitar serenade outside her window. We've got the big climactic finish, a race - in which Dennis Quaid's character decides to man up and show the college students he's not all talk and in which Dave wins the big one. I mean "Breaking Away" must be the movie that they show to Hollywood filmmakers, right before they graduate and get to go make typical, romantic comedies and sentimental garbage. This is like the blueprint for thousands of bad movies that have followed and the thing is, is that it's really not that bad, probably because it was directed by a foreigner. You know, after I watched this, I got to thinking, "Man, this movie is just so cliche, predictable and typical. It's like a hundred other movies I've already seen". And then I thought about it and realized that while it may be cookie cutter, millions of cookies are made every year with the use of cookie cutters and that doesn't make them any less delicious! Am I right?

So what it it's cliche and predictable. In fact, why did predictable get such a bad rap? I mean, maybe predictable is good, because that means that what should be happening IS happening, right? Nevermind, I'm tired. Anyway, I realized there really wasn't a thing wrong with this movie. You had a star that I've rarely seen (in fact, the only other movie I've seen Dennis Christopher in was Stephen King's "It" as Eddie "Spaghetti"), who hammers a home run out the park, not to mention the co-stars who all do fine jobs, especially Paul Dooley. You had a fine plot and a pretty perfect portrayal of Anytown, USA. Was it just me, or did this movie remind anyone else of "Stand by Me"? I don't know why, because the kids are much older, but it did - especially the scenes at the quarry. The fact that this thing was directed by someone outside the U.S. and they were able to peg the small town states this good, is uncanny. I wonder, do college kids and the kids that live in college towns but don't attend the school really feud like this? I'd never even heard of that notion before watching this, but I guess it makes sense that they might.

Does the main characters' Italian obsession represent his hopes & dreams? Notice how he loses the Italian obsession when he finds out the Italians are cheaters, but has it back at the very end of the film.

Anyway, I'm rambling like a fool because I'm tired. What I'm trying to say is that despite this movie having qualities that I'd normally condemn, I'm giving it a pass because I enjoyed it, damn it! I watched this at 10 o'clock at night, after getting up at 6:30am and I didn't even begin to doze, not once and watched it straight through with nary a pause. Since I'm a big pause guy, especially when I get tired, that's saying something. I think a lot of you, especially the highfalutin film goers are going to crap all over this one. However, everyday movie goers, I think, will get a kick out of this one and find it really good. I'd like to think I'm highfalutin, but I'll swim with the commoners tonight and give this one a passing grade.

RATING: 7/10  Screw it, I'm feeling generous and I liked it, for the most part. What else has Dennis Christopher been in. Also, Daniel Stern - right? Love that guy.


March 14, 2014  10:28pm


  1. Well... I certainly see you point that why should 'Cliche and predictable always get a bad rap'. There are some films I can watch that fill the cookie cutter slot that I enjoy.. but generally speaking, I think we deserve more. Oh sure.. some of them deserve inclusion in The Book... but, well, not this one.
    OK, I'm being a tad too negative.. there were bits that were good.. and it bowled along at a reasonable pace. I was never bored. I didn't finish saying 'thank goodness that is over'. I don't think I even watched the counter all that much.. Is that enough -or am I going to chalk up a disagreement? Well neither..
    Would I recommend it to a friend? Not really. Would I like a copy to keep and watch again? Certainly not. Am I going to give it more than 5? Sorry, no...
    But neither am I going to crap all over it.
    I will just move on. Perhaps I wasn't feeling generous today!

    1. I'd recommend it to the right friend, because I know people that would totally love this.

  2. I agree with your comments, yet I would still rate this movie an 8, at least. Just because it follows a certain formula does not mean I would give it less. I mean, most movies, except experimental films, follow some formula. This one is just so well done. Still, glad you enjoyed this one.

    1. Thanks Larry. Your comments are always welcome! I'll admit, I found myself rolling my eyes more than once, but when it was all said and done, I couldn't help but have enjoyed it.

  3. Wow thanks so much for the shout out! This was such a pleasant surprise to see when I was browsing. I am glad you enjoyed them!

    1. You're welcome...

      I really enjoy everything you write. Keep up the great work!!


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

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