"I want an answer, Evelyn. What are we going to do with him'" Dad (Paul Dooley) "I don't know, dear. We could strangle him in his sleep."
- Evelyn (Barbara Barrie)
"They're gonna keep calling us Cutters. To them it's just a dirty word. To me, it's just something else I never got a chance to be."
- Mike (Dennis Quaid) to Cyril (Daniel Stern), Dave (Dennis Christopher), and Moocher (Jackie Earle Haley)
"What's the matter'"--Evelyn "He's shaving!"--Dad "Well, so what!"--Evelyn "He's shaving his legs!"
Academy Awards 1979 -
Best Original Screenplay: Steve Tesich
New York Times - 07/18/1979
"...Wonderful. Here is a movie so fresh and funny it didn't even need a big budget or a pedigree..."
New York Times - 12/30/1979
Included in the New York Times's "10 BEST FILMS OF 1979"
Premiere - 06/01/2005
[Quaid] makes a vivid impression."
Uncut - 07/01/2010 4 stars out of 5 -- "[I]ts depiction of a rootless teenage summer is delivered with delicate understatement..."
Sight and Sound - 07/01/2010
"[A]s fresh and funny as ever, the late-1970s details arguably enhancing the impression of an environment lagging woefully behind its occupants' ambitions."
BREAKING AWAY is a winning coming-of-age story with unusually well drawn characters, smart social commentary, and a terrific ensemble of fresh-faced actors soon to be famous. The rivalry between townies and college kids sets the scene for the story of four friends trying to figure out their future after high school graduation in Bloomington, Indiana. Raised together in the working-class quarry town, the boys consider themselves Cutters, proud of their father's heritage as limestone workers in the once prosperous factory town. But there is no future for the boys as Cutters, and not one of them has plans for college. So now that Mike (Dennis Quaid) is no longer a star quarterback, Moocher (Jackie Earl Haley) can't decide if he wants to break up or marry his girlfriend, and quick-witted Cyril (Daniel Stern) can no longer play the class clown, they have no idea what to do with themselves. Luckily, avid cyclist Dave (Dennis Christopher) knows exactly what he wants. He aspires to be one of the world's best bicyclists. There's only one obstacle: The leading racers are Italian, and Dave is not. A romantic dreamer, he races around his hometown, singing opera, speaking in an Italian accent, and stumping his parents with his newfangled Italian ways. When his affair with Katherine (an Italian exchange student) evokes jealousy from a few big boys on campus, Dave decides that a bike race is the only way to settle the score and prove that Cutters are not losers. The film features a remarkable performance from character actor Paul Dooley, who shines as Dave's befuddled and frustrated working-class father. Screenwriter Steve Tesich's script is an intelligent and humorous masterpiece, full of subtle humor and insightful dialogue. All the components combine to make one of the most charming comedies of all time.
Coming Of Age |
Essential Cinema |
Personal Triumph |
Theatrical release: January 1, 1979.
Filmed entirely on location in Bloomington, Indiana.
Footage from Indiana University was shot during the summer, but director Peter Yates had to wait until September to fill the stadium with 10,000 for the bicycle race.
The bicycle race is known as the Little 500.
The film spawned a brief television series in 1980 with Shaun Cassidy reprising the role of Dave Stohler.
The film marked the acting debut of actress Robyn Douglass.
Dave's serenade is from the opera MARTHA by Friedrich von Flowtor.