Among great American sports films, boxing and baseball dominate. Raging Bull, Rocky, Requiem for a Heavyweight, When We Were Kings, The Harder They Come, the underrated Rocky Graziano-inspired Someone Up There Likes Me, Million Dollar Baby, and most recently, The Fighter. Then there’s Bull Durham, The Natural, Pride of the Yankees, Eight Men Out, Field of Dreams. Fear Strikes Out and Bang the Drum Slowly, among others.
Cycling? There’s one: 1979’s Breaking Away. But it’s awesome.
The American Film Institute ranks it No. 8 in its Top 10 list of the greatest sports movies ever.
Tonight, beginning at 9 p.m., the American Visionary Arts Museum screens it outside, free, as part of its Flicks From The Hill series.
Beforehand, starting at 6:30 p.m., AVAM and Race Pace Bikes are organizing a ride through Federal Hill and its historic neighborhoods and parks. Riders should meet at Race Pace Bicycles at 1410 Key Highway. The “Tour de Federal Hill” is expected to cross the finish line at AVAM around 8 p.m.
For those who can’t make it to Race Pace, another group of bicyclists will be meeting at the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon at 8 p.m., and will ride down to the American Visionary Arts Museum.
In Breaking Away, to cut to the chase, four working class kids (one obsessed with cycling and Italian culture) just out of high school in Bloomington, Ind., take on the snobbish fraternity boys at I.U. in the school’s annual Little 500 bike race. The Little 500 is a real annual event and a big deal at Indiana. Lance Armstrong once called it the coolest sporting event he ever attended. (Someday, someone will make a great documentary about Lance and the alleged mass conspiracy and blood-doping charges surrounding his seven Tour de France wins.)
Breaking Away has been described as a classic coming-of-age story and also comes in at No. 8 on AFI’s Most Inspiring list of films — even ahead of that better-known Indiana sports film, Hoosiers. Take that Jimmy Chitwood!