During the coronavirus shutdown, each day we will bring you a recommendation from The Post’s Peter Botte for a sports movie, TV show or book that perhaps was before your time or somehow slipped between the cracks of your viewing/reading history. This entry happens to impressively cover all three mediums.
Breaking Away (1979)
Streaming: Amazon Prime
With so many stellar film choices across the pantheon of the major sports, perhaps a cycling flick would not immediately come to mind as a first-week recommendation in this series.
But this Oscar-nominated, Peter Yates-directed tale — one of several of its era depicting kids from opposite sides of the proverbial tracks — is a true hidden gem of the sports-cinema genre.
“Breaking Away” didn’t win Best Picture at the Academy Awards that year — the Dustin Hoffman/Meryl Streep divorce-drama “Kramer vs. Kramer” did — but Steve Tesich took home the gold statue for Best Original Screenplay for his coming-of-age story about cycling-obsessed teenager Dave (played by Dennis Cristopher), his nutty parents and his townie friends.
The boys often clash — both on the track and over girls — with more affluent students at nearby Indiana University in Bloomington, who label them “cutters,” a derogatory term in their small, midwestern quarry town. Dave’s buddies are played deftly by Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern and Jackie Earle Haley (Kelly Leak from “The Bad News Bears”).
The story builds up to the guys qualifying for and competing against college teams in a prestigious cycling race known as the Indiana Little 500, which, of course, goes down to the wire between the cutters and their collegiate foes.
“Breaking Away,” ranked the No. 8 sports movie all-time by the American Film Institute, also inspired a brief TV series (starring Shaun Cassidy!) and the song “One For the Cutters” by Brooklyn-based rockers The Hold Steady in 2008.
Quote of Note: “‘Breaking Away’ is a wonderfully sunny, funny, goofy, intelligent movie that makes you feel about as good as any movie in a long time. It is, in fact, a treasure.” — Film critic Roger Ebert
Botte Blows: 4.6 of 5.