Breaking Away

BREAKING AWAY, Dennis Christopher, Daniel Stern, Dennis Quaid, Jackie Earle Haley, 1979, TM & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.

I wrote a little web series about growing up called Dylan Ogden which you can find on this website on my script writing samples page. Growing up as a child of the 80s I watched a lot of John Hughes films about growing up too. These were great, but my favourite rite-of-passage film is Breaking Away from 1979.

The film is directed by English helmsman Peter Yates and written by Steve Tesich (part of the story may be autobiographical). Yates, being from England seems to have a good hand on the story of class in America, and this is a film as much about a certain class system that exists in the US than it is about growing up.

Breaking Away is a lot of people’s favourite film, and there was a short lived TV series that I seem to recall also back in the 1980s. The film is funny, touching, inspiring, sad and world weary all at the same time. Dennis Quaid is great but the real stand out is Dennis Christopher who never became a great star but still acts on stage in America (by choice, he prefers the stage).

The other stand out performance is Paul Dooley as the Dad character; he’s very funny and has some of the films best lines.

Finally the film is rousing, romantic and real. There’s none of the fake saccharine that you get in many other 80s youth movies. I’d watch Breaking Away with Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The perfect teen film double bill.

So, 46 films to go…

Matthew Cooper has written for Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs. He was winner of the first ever Lloyds Bank Channel Four Film Challenge and the Oscar Moore Screenplay Prize. His first short film starred a then unknown Ewan McGregor and was picked up by Channel Four when Matthew was 19 years old. He’s been a script writer for hire and filmmaker for hire for over 20 years.