The summer after graduating from high school four friends in Bloomington, Indiana—Dave (Dennis Christopher), Mike (Dennis Quaid), Moocher (Jackie Earle Haley), and Cyril (Daniel Stern) are trying to find some direction in their lives. An accomplished cyclist, Dave dreams of competing against the Italians who are the best in the world. He even pretends to be Italian, speaking the language, calling himself Enrico and the family cat Fellini to the exasperation of his father (Paul Dooley), while his mother (Barbara Barrie), is more understanding, believing to be part of growing up. Granted, he probably takes it a little far when he pretends to be an Italian exchange student to attract the attention of Katherine (Robyn Douglass), a beautiful Indiana University student.
Most of the college students look down on Dave and his friends, referring to them as “cutters” (because their fathers quarried the stone the college is built from). Dave is determined to show them up in the “Little 500,” a two-hundred lap bicycle race which will pit his team against a college frat led by Rod (Hart Bochner), Katherine’s boyfriend.
The strongest element of Breaking Away is Steve Tesich’s Oscar winning screenplay. This was his first theatrical script after working in television, and it’s perfect: witty, and slightly wistful, it’s rich in character with a real sense of time and place. Tesich explores the conflict between rich and poor, the strained relationship between father and son, and Dave and his friend’s realization that they are drifting apart, and it’s a natural process of growing up. There is also a tough life lesson when Dave learns that his idolized Italian racers are snobs and cheats. That realization leads to a touching father/son moment, and marks the first time in a long time that the two have truly communicated.
Director Peter Yates influence can be seen as in the cycling sequences, serving as a reminder that this is the man that directed one of the best car chases sequences ever put on film in Bullitt. He doesn’t use a lot of quick cuts to create excitement. He films in medium and long shots, allowing the excitement to come from the actual movement of the race. Highly effective, the race at the end of the film will have you at the edge of your seat no matter how many times you see it.
Dennis Christopher does a fabulous job in the lead, his performance really allows us to see his gradual transformation from a teenager to a young man. Dennis Quaid shows early promise as a townie with a chip on his shoulder that threatens to drag him down. A young Jackie Earl Haley is feisty as Moocher, with a short kid complex. Daniel Stern’s Cyril is the thoughtful one, and the one who always tries to solve problems within the group. It’s Paul Dooley as Dave’s father who occasionally steals the show. It’s wholly appropriate that Yates gives him the final freeze frame in the film. Barbara Barrie earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her work, and while there’s nothing that screams “Oscar,” in her work, she is a stabilizing influence in several scenes. Halloween and Rock ‘n’ Roll High School fans should note P.J. Soles (credited under her full name of Pamela Jayne Soles) in a small role.
Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Twilight Time’s 1080p transfer replicates the dreamy softness that was apparent during the film’s original theatrical run. Sharpness as we know it today is rarely a factor. Colors look solid throughout, flesh tones natural, and blacks consistent. Digital artifacts and other age related anomalies aren’t an issue. Overall, Twilight Time has done a fine job of maintaining the film’s original appearance.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 sound mix replicates the theatrical experience very well. Dialogue is clean and clear, never interfering with the Patrick Williams score. There are no apparent hiss, crackles, or pops to disturb the listening experience.
English SDH subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Audio Commentary with Actor Dennis Christopher, Producer Nick Redman, and Film Historian Julie Kirgo: In this lively discussion, Christopher provides information about how he got the part, and the making of the film, while Redman and Kirgo lavish praise on the film in nearly every way possible.
- Isolated Score Track: The music is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo.
- Dennis Christopher’s Fellini Story (12:53) In this audio only excerpt, Dennis Christopher talks about his introduction to and experience with Federico Fellini.
- Teaser Trailers (each SD, 0:32) Two teaser trailers, one with the theme of impending adulthood and the other touting its five Oscar nominations.
- Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:57)
- Six-Page Booklet: Contains a series of color stills, original poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s insightful essay about the film.
There are only 3,000 copies this Blu-ray available. Those interested should go to www.screenarchives.com to see if product is still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.