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Breaking Away [VHS] (1979)

Dennis Christopher , Dennis Quaid , Peter Yates  |  PG |  VHS Tape
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (302 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley, Barbara Barrie
  • Directors: Peter Yates
  • Writers: Steve Tesich
  • Producers: Peter Yates, Art Levinson
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English, French, Italian
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
  • VHS Release Date: May 5, 1998
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (302 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6300247120
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,797 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Peter Yates's flag-waving film stands with To Kill a Mockingbird and American Graffiti as one of the best films about small-town Americana. Steve Tesich won an Oscar for his semi-biographical screenplay about four 19-year-olds who don't know what to do after high school. Dave Stohler (Dennis Christopher) and his three friends--ex-football star Mike (Dennis Quaid), wily comedian Cyril (Daniel Stern), and tough kid Moocher (Jackie Earle Haley)--are doomed to live in the college town of Bloomington, Indiana, where the local kids (nicknamed "Cutters"--a derogatory reference to quarry workers and their blue-collar families) are looked down on by the uppity students of nearby Indiana University.

Stohler escapes into a world of Italian bicycling, picking up the lingo, the accent, and a good share of the talent of his heroes. He is also the scourge of his father's life. The used-car salesman (Paul Dooley) doesn't understand his son's affection for bicycling or, for that matter, his pride in being a "Cutter."

Breaking Away rehabilitates the word heartwarming as Tesich's uncommonly intelligent script gives us well-rounded characters and a potent sense of place. The grandstanding finale--the real life "Little 500" bike race--gives the film a perfect, crowd-pleasing end. However, the film never sacrifices the development of characters for the action. Dooley is especially effective in one of those once-in-a-lifetime roles. The lifelong character actor's place in film history is established with this indispensable performance. --Doug Thomas

Product Description

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Film: 5 stars; DVD: 1 star March 1, 2002
By George
This is a fabulous film, one of my all-time favorites: a funny, bittersweet, character-driven masterpiece of small-budget filmmaking, shot in a town I lived in for five years.
Obviously, this was a cheaply done DVD release by Fox of a film that deserves a deluxe special edition. Besides the lack of extras, interviews, and audio commentary, I could not believe the poor sound quality of the DVD digital transfer: street scenes, crowd scenes, etc. sounded like they were recorded in a digital bucket! We had to turn down the sound during the pivotal Little 500 scene, because the digital garbage was so annoying.
Having seen this many times on tape, I know that the sound of this low-budget film was not always good, but it was never horrible until this cheap digital mastering. Fortunately it does not completely ruin the experience of this wonderful film, but I wouldn't be in any hurry to replace a VHS tape with this DVD!
Fox, fix your mistake and treat this film properly!
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic June 5, 2004
I don't want to make a bigger deal out of this movie than it deserves. It's not a world-changer and the ending is a bit predictable, but it is a wonderful and charming coming of age story and an honest look at small-town America. And cycling and Italians play central roles -- a plus for an American cyclist living in Italy, like me.
But having an affinity for things Italian or for bike racing is not necessary in order to enjoy this 25-year-old classic. What is necessary is an appreciation for small things and memories about the mysterious period between adolescence and adulthood. If that describes you, then chances are you'll enjoy this touching film.
Amid the praise I should say that the DVD package is only average: the original trailer and teaser are there, but it would have been nice to have some commentary from director Peter Yates, some of the actors, or from critics who were fans of the film. A "Making of Breaking Away" mini feature would have also been a welcome addition.
One note: Breaking Away is a very American film, and so I'm not so sure how much of it will hit home with foreign viewers.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nominated for best picture in 1979 June 2, 2006
This is an excellent movie with several themes woven together. The main theme is a how a clique of four boys, principally Dave, feel like outsiders in their hometown of Bloomington Indiana as they search for an identity after high school. They are starting to realize that their search will inexorably pull them apart. None of the four are in college, and Bloomington's local economy, especially the fading quarries, seems to hold little promise aside from serving the Indiana University (IU) college students. The IU students derisively call local kids "cutters" in reference to the quarries the local kids' fathers worked in. The four in fact have a favorite closed quarry as their hangout and swimming pool, and they resent it when the IU kids want them to stay off the IU campus but feel free to invade this quarry.

Two of the four had ideas for college athletics, but are aimless now that their high school careers are over and do not provide structure. There are several excellent scenes depicting their confusion and disappointment over what to do next. My favorite is when the four are watching Indiana football practice. Ex-football player Dennis Quaid still keeps in shape, and he says that he can't bring himself to light the cigarettes he keeps in his mouth because he can't get give up his opinion that he was a pretty good high school quarterback and should be on the college gridiron. Now he's just "20-yr old Mike". Eventually he will be just "30-yr old Mike" and then just "40-yr old Mike". Every year there will be new contenders for starting quarterback, and "every year it's not gonna be me." Daniel Stern, as Cyril, has to overcome his dad's low expectations and too-willing acceptance of failure even though Cyril is a talented person.
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82 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Italians are coming!!" February 4, 2002
It's about time they released this Masterpiece on DVD. In 1979, I was a 19 year old boy. My MAMA had just come home crying from the movie theatre, having seen this FILM. She said to me, "I just saw a movie you have to see. It made me weep because it reminded me of you." Then she hugged me and I thought, God, I gotta see this movie! Then I did, and it had the exact same effect on me, and still does to this day.
This is not just a "feel-good-coming-of-age" story. This FILM is a profound and intelligent comedy of an inner search for an identity. What self-aware human being hasn't confronted the blinding journey of the Self? Should I go to college and major in Business? Or should I become an Italian and race bicycles? Heck, I'm in my forties and sometimes I still don't know who I am.
PAPA (WORRYING ABOUT DAVE)-played hilariously by Paul Dooley.
"He's gonna be a bum, Evelyn... An Italian bum."
Everyone in this FILM is searching. Except for maybe Moocher. Socrates would have loved this movie.

MAMA (WAXING PHILOSOPHICAL)-played brilliantly by Barbara Barrie.
"I think you should come home singing... with a trophy. Do all those things while you can."
Everytime I see this FILM, the tears well because I knew every single one of these guys growing up and I always fell in love with the girl I couldn't have.

DAVE (IN THE PANGS OF AMORE)-impeccably played by Dennis Christopher.
"I have such a pain in my heart, mama. I'm in love."

I have a great sentiment for this FILM and as soon as I get my copy I'm heading straight to MAMA's house to watch it with her. This FILM is to AMERICAN CINEMA, as THE BEACHBOYS are to AMERICAN ROCK AND ROLL. Good vibrations, bambina!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Blu a-comin'!
First saw in theater, then acquired this dvd via cereal box coupons (!) many years ago... Via 'bluray. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Jrum C.
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
So weird
Published 9 days ago by jacob
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie???
Published 12 days ago by Adrian Garcia
5.0 out of 5 stars this is a fun and enjoyable movie - no matter how old it ...
If you are a cyclist, this is a fun and enjoyable movie - no matter how old it is...
Published 15 days ago by D. Bell
5.0 out of 5 stars classic.
well it's a classic :)
Published 22 days ago by Brent Hoy
5.0 out of 5 stars Bike for life
Great movie. One of those that inspire and allow us to see different points of view. The characters and situations are fictional and yet it is very easy to see the same situations... Read more
Published 28 days ago by UC Takahashi-Iturriaga
5.0 out of 5 stars My absolute favorite. Cutters vs townies
My absolute favorite. Cutters vs townies. Simply wonderful coming of age movie. Buy this and enjoy it more with each viewing.
Published 29 days ago by Eric or Nickie Eck
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great movie....
Published 1 month ago by rodrigo davila
5.0 out of 5 stars You gotta see this.
One of the best films ever made.
Published 1 month ago by Keith D. Keller
5.0 out of 5 stars Just a great feel good movie for the whole family
Just a great feel good movie for the whole family. I remember seeing it with my dad when I was a child when it came out, my kids enjoyed it today!
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
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