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'Breaking Away' director Peter Yates dies

January 10, 2011

Peter Yates' film "Breaking Away" served as my intro to Indiana.

Sixteen and on a date in a New Jersey theater in 1979, I saw that there was a universality to my small town thoughts. Apparently four "cutters" in Bloomington had the same sense of aimlessness that I saw around me—the same desire to punch the bully, kiss the girl, please the parents and win the big race.

Yates' film—which, except for the silly freeze frame at the end, still holds up beautifully—was on my mind when I flew out to Indianapolis for a job interview. It was on my mind when I delivered my eldest daughter to Indiana University. And it's on my mind now, as I note this weekend's passing of Yates. He was 82.

The credit most noted for the director is "Bullitt," where his San Francisco car chases helped define the cop film genre. But I'll take "Breaking Away" bike races over those hill-hopping pursuits any day.

As one would expect, "Breaking Away" is among the films being screened at IU Cinema's inaugural season. It will be playing April 10-11.

So when did you first see "Breaking Away"?

Your thoughts?

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