Breaking Away (1979)

PG | 100 mins | Comedy-drama | 1979

Director:

Peter Yates

Writer:

Steve Tesich

Producer:

Peter Yates

Cinematographer:

Matthew F. Leonetti

Production Designer:

Patrizia Von Brandenstein

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox
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HISTORY

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Melissa Pope, a student at Oregon State University, with Jon Lewis as academic advisor.

End credits begin with the written statement, “Filmed entirely in Bloomington, Indiana. We would like to thank the Citizens of Bloomington, Indiana, Indiana University and The Indiana University Foundation for their cooperation and assistance,” and conclude with, “The producer wishes to acknowledge the enormous help and cooperation of the Cinzano company whose contributions to this film were invaluable.”
       The working title of the film was Bambino , as stated in a 30 Aug 1978 Var news item.
              According to a 17 Apr 1980 Rolling Stone article, writer Steve Tesich was partly inspired to create the film’s main character, “Dave,” by a young man he befriended at Indiana University who pretended to be Italian and won of the school’s “Little 500 Bicycle Race.” Tesich wrote a script about a bike-riding Italophile at Indiana University but was unable to sell it. Director Peter Yates later suggested that Tesich write a story about class-consciousness in the U.S., which resulted in another unsold script. Upon Yates’s recommendation, Tesich combined the narratives from his two unsold screenplays to create Breaking Away .
       The budget for the film was $2.4 million, as reported in Rolling Stone . Yates stated that he hired several unknown actors for lead roles because “The story wouldn’t work if you didn’t believe in the innocence of the people involved.”
       Shooting took place in Bloomington, IN, beginning 15 Aug 1978, as stated in an ... More Less

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Melissa Pope, a student at Oregon State University, with Jon Lewis as academic advisor.

End credits begin with the written statement, “Filmed entirely in Bloomington, Indiana. We would like to thank the Citizens of Bloomington, Indiana, Indiana University and The Indiana University Foundation for their cooperation and assistance,” and conclude with, “The producer wishes to acknowledge the enormous help and cooperation of the Cinzano company whose contributions to this film were invaluable.”
       The working title of the film was Bambino , as stated in a 30 Aug 1978 Var news item.
              According to a 17 Apr 1980 Rolling Stone article, writer Steve Tesich was partly inspired to create the film’s main character, “Dave,” by a young man he befriended at Indiana University who pretended to be Italian and won of the school’s “Little 500 Bicycle Race.” Tesich wrote a script about a bike-riding Italophile at Indiana University but was unable to sell it. Director Peter Yates later suggested that Tesich write a story about class-consciousness in the U.S., which resulted in another unsold script. Upon Yates’s recommendation, Tesich combined the narratives from his two unsold screenplays to create Breaking Away .
       The budget for the film was $2.4 million, as reported in Rolling Stone . Yates stated that he hired several unknown actors for lead roles because “The story wouldn’t work if you didn’t believe in the innocence of the people involved.”
       Shooting took place in Bloomington, IN, beginning 15 Aug 1978, as stated in an 11 Aug 1978 Box news brief. An unsourced article dated 28 Aug 1978 announced the last day of filming in Bloomington would be 22 Sep 1978. University students and Bloomington residents served as extras, and filming occurred in the “Commons area of the Indiana Memorial Union” on Indiana University’s campus, and other locations. According to a 19 Dec 1979 DV news brief, Twentieth Century-Fox donated $15,000 to the university’s scholarship fund and paid an additional $30,000 to compensate the expense of recreating the “Little 500 Bicycle Race” during the production.
       Critical reception was generally positive. An 18 Jul 1979 NYT review and a 9 Jul 1979 HR review both referred to the recent popularity of youth-sports films, and lauded Breaking Away as distinctive amongst the others; HR deemed it “the most upbeat, heartening and entertaining of them all.”
       The film took in $30 million in box-office receipts as of 19 Dec 1979, according to a DV news item of the same date. A 16 Oct 1979 US article claimed that “word of mouth” publicity helped the film, which took in mediocre returns in its first week but drew larger audiences as weeks passed. Breaking Away , which offered “no sex, no violence, [and] no hot subject matter,” defied expectations to become a “sleeper” hit.
       Less than a year after its Jul 1979 release, Twentieth Century-Fox agreed to air the film on the National Broadcasting Company network (NBC) on 5 May 1980, as stated in a 16 Apr 1980 DV , and NBC paid $5 million for the broadcast rights. The agreement surprised many, as films usually did not appear on network television until at least three years following theatrical release. However, HBO had originally passed on the film and later made a low offer, causing Twentieth Century-Fox to consider the unorthodox arrangement with NBC. According to a 23 Apr 1980 Var news item, Twentieth Century-Fox pulled the film from theaters 1 May 1980, prior to the 5 May 1980 telecast.
       Tesich won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Breaking Away , and the film received four additional Academy Award nominations: Best Picture; Best Director; Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Barbara Barrie; and Best Music. The National Society of Film Critics named it the “best feature of 1979,” and Tesich received their “best screenplay” honors, as stated in a 3 Jan 1980 DV .
              An 8 Jan 1980 HR news item announced that a television pilot based on the film would be produced by Twentieth Century-Fox, with Yates slated to direct and Tesich slated to write. A 7 Mar 1980 LAHExam brief reported that the television pilot was being shot in Athens, GA, and the cast included Barbara Barrie, Shaun Cassidy, and Vincent Gardenia. According to the 1995 edition of The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows , the Breaking Away television series aired 29 Nov 1980—6 Jul 1981 on the American Broadcasting Company network (ABC). Barbara Barrie reprised her role as “Evelyn”; Jackie Earle Haley reprised the role of “Moocher”; and John Ashton returned as “Roy.”
             
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
11 Aug 1978.
---
Daily Variety
19 Dec 1979.
---
Daily Variety
3 Jan 1980
p. 1, 36.
Daily Variety
16 Apr 1980
p. 1, 23.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 1979
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jan 1980.
---
LAHExam
7 Mar 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Jul 1979
p. 1.
New York Times
18 Jul 1979
p. 22.
Rolling Stone
17 Apr 1980.
---
US
16 Oct 1979.
---
Variety
30 Aug 1978.
---
Variety
11 Jul 1979
p. 19.
Variety
11 Jul 1979.
---
Variety
23 Apr 1980
p. 3, 40.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Peter Yates Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Gaffer
Key grip
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
Ladies cost
MUSIC
Mus adapted by
Conducted by
Opera arias sung by
Mus ed
Scoring mixer
SOUND
Prod mixer
Sd services
Sd ed
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Asst sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Transportation coord
Loc auditor
Prod coord
Tech adv "Little 500"
Bicycle coach and mechanic
Bicycle coach and rider
STAND INS
Stunt coord
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Bambino
Release Date:
1979
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 13 Jul 1979; New York opening: 18 Jul 1979
Production Date:
15 Aug--late Sep 1978 in Bloomington, IN
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
12 July 1979
Copyright Number:
PA38136
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by DeLuxe®
Duration(in mins):
100
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25493
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Bloomington, Indiana, recent high school graduate Dave Stoller carries a cycling trophy as he walks through the woods with Mike, Cyril, and Moocher, on their way to swim at an abandoned, water-filled quarry. Later that morning, Dave rides his bike through town, singing in Italian, while his parents, Evelyn and Ray, discuss his recent behavior at breakfast. Ray wants Dave to get a job and move out, but Evelyn defends her son’s interest in cycling and remaining at home with his parents, the way Italian people live. Dave returns with his trophy and announces that an Italian cycling team may race in Indiana soon. Ray later pretends Dave is a stranger when he rides past his father’s used car lot and shouts hello in Italian. Back at the quarry, Dave and his friends discuss their need to find jobs, hoping to work at the same place. Mike notices several college students from the University of Indiana on the other side of the quarry and becomes upset, suggesting that if they want to infringe upon the locals’ territory, he and his friends should take a trip to the college campus. Soon after, they drive to Indiana University and discuss the differences between the rich students and themselves. While they watch the football team practice, Mike recalls his time as a high school quarterback and expresses the frustration he feels when reading newspaper stories about players on the college team. Later, Dave practices Italian on campus and spots a beautiful girl riding a moped. Picking up a book that she dropped, Dave chases her on his bike, and outside the girl’s sorority house, he returns the book. Dave introduces himself ... +


In Bloomington, Indiana, recent high school graduate Dave Stoller carries a cycling trophy as he walks through the woods with Mike, Cyril, and Moocher, on their way to swim at an abandoned, water-filled quarry. Later that morning, Dave rides his bike through town, singing in Italian, while his parents, Evelyn and Ray, discuss his recent behavior at breakfast. Ray wants Dave to get a job and move out, but Evelyn defends her son’s interest in cycling and remaining at home with his parents, the way Italian people live. Dave returns with his trophy and announces that an Italian cycling team may race in Indiana soon. Ray later pretends Dave is a stranger when he rides past his father’s used car lot and shouts hello in Italian. Back at the quarry, Dave and his friends discuss their need to find jobs, hoping to work at the same place. Mike notices several college students from the University of Indiana on the other side of the quarry and becomes upset, suggesting that if they want to infringe upon the locals’ territory, he and his friends should take a trip to the college campus. Soon after, they drive to Indiana University and discuss the differences between the rich students and themselves. While they watch the football team practice, Mike recalls his time as a high school quarterback and expresses the frustration he feels when reading newspaper stories about players on the college team. Later, Dave practices Italian on campus and spots a beautiful girl riding a moped. Picking up a book that she dropped, Dave chases her on his bike, and outside the girl’s sorority house, he returns the book. Dave introduces himself as “Enrico,” an Italian exchange student, and she tells him her name is Katherine. One day, Dave receives a cycling journal in the mail and learns that Team Cinzano, the Italian cyclists, will hold a race in nearby Indianapolis. As Dave rides through town, Cyril runs alongside him, and they discuss a college entrance exam Dave is supposed to take, though he admits he doesn’t want to go back to school. One night, Dave stands outside Katherine’s sorority and serenades her in Italian while Cyril plays his guitar. Inside the sorority, Katherine’s friend Suzy calls Katherine’s current boyfriend, Rod, to alert him. Meanwhile, Evelyn and Ray have a romantic dinner at home, listening to Italian music. When Dave finishes his song, Katherine rides off with him, leaving Cyril behind. Rod and his friends pull up and run after Cyril, believing he was the one who serenaded Rod’s girlfriend. Later, Dave and Katherine return, and she kisses him goodnight. The next day, Mike sees Cyril’s bruises and demands to know what happened, but Cyril remains mum about the incident. Determined to find the culprit, Mike drives to campus where Cyril identifies Rod, who is driving around with a new girl. Rod calls Mike and his friends “Cutters,” a local word for townies. Spotting Rod’s car later that night, Mike, Cyril, and Moocher search for Rod inside a dining hall where Dave and Katherine are having a date. Mike and Rod start a brawl, and police arrive to break it up. Rod and his friends gather before a college administrator who suggests they resolve their conflict with the local residents in a more dignified manner and announces that this year’s Little 500 bicycle race will welcome one team comprised of four non-students. At the quarry, Dave says he does not want to race in the Little 500, but Mike encourages him, suggesting that they will have a proper team if all four participate. On the other side of the quarry, Rod shows up with friends, and he and Mike engage in an impromptu swimming contest until Mike cuts his head on a rock. Afterward, Moocher and Dave walk through town, and Moocher announces that he’s going to marry his girlfriend, Nancy. He then meets Nancy at the courthouse to apply for a marriage license. Riding his bike through a red light, Dave almost collides with his father who is leading a test drive. Ray’s vehicle stalls and later must be towed, costing him the sale. The next evening, Evelyn suggests that Ray give Dave a job, and, despite his resistance, Ray hires Dave to wash the cars on the lot. When a customer attempts to return a car, citing a ninety-day guarantee Ray promised, Dave encourages his father to honor his word, but Ray refuses. He then suffers a heart attack. At home, as a doctor tends to Ray in bed, Dave tells his mother he will not compete in the upcoming bicycle race against the Italians, but Evelyn urges him to race despite Ray’s condition. At the Cinzano 100 race, Dave gets a slow start but eventually catches up to the Italian team, who later cheat by shifting Dave’s gear and sticking a pole through his wheel, causing him to fall and injure himself. At home, Dave greets Ray and Evelyn without an Italian accent. When Ray asks about the race, Dave cries and hugs his father. On campus, Dave admits to Katherine that he lied about being Italian, and she reacts by slapping him and storming off. At night, Ray asks Dave to join him for a walk. They discuss Dave’s future, and Dave admits he is scared to go to college. Ray recalls his days working as a lowly stone cutter, and urges his son to aim for higher goals. One day, Dave’s friends present him with an old Roadmaster bicycle, the only make allowed in the Little 500. Though Dave remains unenthusiastic, his passion is reignited when Mike expresses doubt about their chances of winning. Dave takes the bike home and fixes it. In town, he runs into Katherine, and she wishes him luck, saying that she will soon leave for a job in Chicago, Illinois. On the day of the Little 500, Dave and his friends wear shirts provided by Evelyn, with the team name “Cutters” across their chests. Though Dave gains a strong lead early in the race, he collides with another rider and sustains an injury. Moocher, Cyril, and Mike take turns riding while Dave receives medical attention. Listening to the race on the radio, Ray leaves work to join Evelyn in the crowd. When Dave sees his father there, he is inspired to get back into the race. Tied with Rod’s team on the final lap, Dave pulls ahead at the last minute and wins the race. Some time later, Ray rides a bicycle through campus and says hello to Dave, now a student, who has just met a charming French girl. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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