|Directed by||John Badham|
|Produced by|| Paula Weinstein |
|Written by||Steve Tesich|
|Music by||Greg Mathieson |
|Edited by||Jeff Jones |
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|August 16, 1985|
American Flyers is a 1985 American sports drama film about bicycle racing directed by John Badham and starring Kevin Costner, David Grant, Rae Dawn Chong, Alexandra Paul, Luca Bercovici and Janice Rule.
It was written by Steve Tesich.
Sports physician Marcus Sommers (Costner) visits his family after being away a long time. Marcus immediately gets into a fight with his mother over the way she handled the death of his father from a cerebral aneurysm. Marcus asks his brother David (Grant) to come back to Madison with him to spend time together.
With the history of cerebral aneurysm in the Sommers family, their mother (Rule) is concerned that the condition may now be affecting David as well. Marcus convinces David to undergo testing at his sports medicine center. Before the test starts David says that he just wants to go one second longer than Marcus. David breaks Marcus' record as Marcus begins cheering him on with everyone else in the room. David overhears a conversation in which Marcus says that he does not want to worry David about something. David assumes that he does have an aneurysm.
Marcus shows David and his girlfriend Sarah (Chong) a "Hell of the West" video of a past race in which Marcus points out the moment he quit mid-race. Marcus tells them that he got so good at quitting that no one can tell anymore. Marcus convinces David to embark on a cross-country journey to the bicycle race "Hell of the West" in Colorado along with Sarah. They camp and David asks Marcus about a cure for an aneurysm and Marcus tells him surgery would destroy the brain's vital functions. Later, David runs into a hitchhiker named Becky (Paul) at McDonald's and asks her to join them.
The brothers practice "shake and break" and how to trick cowboys in a bike v. horse race. Following a flat tire, Sarah and Becky get an unwelcome visit from Sarah's ex-husband Muzzin (Bercovici) and his friend Jerome (Townsend) who are also Marcus's old cycling rivals. Muzzin crosses the line with Sarah and she picks up a large rock and threatens him with it. Impressed, Becky keeps the rock.
In the three-stage race in the Rockies, with mountain and prairie backdrops, the brothers compete against the world's top cyclists on dangerous roads at breakneck speeds. Marcus gets a flat tire which Sarah and Becky repair while riders flash by. Marcus heroically regains his place at the front of the race and wins the first stage against Muzzin and Belov the Russian Olympic winner. Following the race, Muzzin berates a female reporter for her part in boycotting the 1980 Summer Olympics. Struggling to make the cut David is crashed into by another rider and his bike is damaged. Marcus, watching from the finish line, tells David to pick up his bike and run with it. David crosses the finish line holding his bike and making the cut for the next stage.
Marcus shows David where the checkpoints are located on the race course. If David can cross all the checkpoints first he'll make up the time he's behind the leaders of the race after stage one. David breaks away during the second stage and crosses the first checkpoint to gain 30 seconds on his time. He then crosses the other checkpoints to gain 2 minutes on his time. Meanwhile, Marcus notices blood is coming out of his nose and ears. Marcus starts to wobble on his bike and realizes he's had an aneurysm. He signals for Sarah and Becky in the team van to help him as he struggles to stay on his bike on the winding road. Sarah grabs Marcus from his bike before his bike soars over the edge of the cliff. The pack of riders catches up to David and he finishes third in stage two. Becky finds David in the crowd and tells him what happened to Marcus.
Struggling, David and Marcus say they love each other. David faces a dilemma: to quit and look after his brother, or continue to defy the odds and win the race. David and Marcus decide to stay in the race. Becky comforts Sarah outside the hospital by showing Sarah the rock Becky saved. David and Marcus' mother shows up at the race and rides with Marcus in the team van.
David sprints to an early lead which the competitors put down to youthful exuberance. But after a few miles they realize that David is able to maintain the savage pace. As they enter the mountain stages Muzzin approaches David to throw the race and settle for second. David punches Muzzin and races for the finish. David crosses the line first but has to wait to see when Muzzin finishes because of Muzzin's 11-second advantage from stage two. Muzzin struggles to the finish line and looks at the clock show 11 seconds as he crosses the line. The crowd erupts to celebrate David's victory. David celebrates with his mom, Sarah and Becky. David looks for Marcus in the crowd and sees him alone watching David. David walks over and hugs Marcus. Marcus sees his mother watching and he motions for her to come over to them finally forgiving her. Marcus, David and their mom hug and then smile for a photograph.
The 7-Eleven team that is featured in the movie was a real life team that competed in the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia in the 1980s. The team was later sponsored by Motorola. Much of the race action was filmed at the Coors Classic, a now-defunct stage race that was one of the world's leading cycling events at the time of the film. Two stages in the film's featured race, the Morgul-Bismarck circuit race in Boulder and the "Tour of the Moon" at Colorado National Monument, were legendary Coors Classic stages.
Cyclist Eddy Merckx makes a brief appearance, starting stage 1. The character, Barry 'The Cannibal' Muzzin, played by Luca Bercovici was based on Eddy Merckx, who was also called 'The Cannibal'. Jennifer Grey made an appearance as a blind date, made hysterical by the brothers' arguing. John Amos has a supporting role running a training facility, and Robert Townsend has a minor role as a rival teammate.
ShaverSport, the company that sponsors Marcus and David in The Hell of the West, was an actual company. It was formed in 1980 by competitive cyclist Bob Shaver with its mission being to produce quality cycling wear. ShaverSport was asked by Warner Brothers to design the clothing for the film. During its existence, the company produced not only cycling gear, but ShaverSport and Hell of the West replica jerseys that were featured in the film.
Marcus and David are seen riding 1985 Specialized Allez SE road bikes with red frames in the race scenes and most of the movie.
The film was released before Costner became a Hollywood superstar. It had a limited release on 16 August 1985 and grossed $1.4 million in the US. As of July 2019 [update] , American Flyers had a 65% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 20 reviews, with an average score of 5.62/10. The site consensus reads: "American Flyers shifts between family drama and cycling action gears with enough strength to make this inspirational sports picture more than pedestrian".
A soundtrack of the film was released in 1985. The main theme "Hell of the West" was played as the introduction music of the title sequence when ABC Sports in the United States broadcast the International Race of Champions from 1987 to 1997 on tape-delay.
Kevin Michael Costner is an American actor and filmmaker. He has received two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Édouard Louis Joseph, Baron Merckx, better known as Eddy Merckx, is a Belgian former professional road and track bicycle racer who is widely seen as the most successful rider in the history of competitive cycling. His victories include an unequalled eleven Grand Tours, all five Monuments, three World Championships, the hour record, every major one-day race other than Paris–Tours, and extensive victories on the track.
Stojan Steve Tesich was a Serbian-American screenwriter, playwright, and novelist. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1979 for the film Breaking Away.
Cadel Lee Evans is an Australian former professional racing cyclist, who competed professionally in both mountain biking and road bicycle racing. A four-time Olympian, Evans is one of three non-Europeans – along with Greg LeMond and Egan Bernal – to have officially won the Tour de France, winning the race in 2011.
The 7-Eleven Cycling Team, later the Motorola Cycling Team, was a professional cycling team founded in the U.S. in 1981 by Jim Ochowicz, a former U.S. Olympic cyclist. The team lasted 16 years, under the sponsorship of 7-Eleven through 1990 and then Motorola from 1990 through 1996. From 1989 to 1996 it rode on Eddy Merckx bikes.
Philippe Thys was a Belgian cyclist and three times winner of the Tour de France.
David Moncoutié is a retired French professional road racing cyclist, who rode with the French team Cofidis, for his entire professional career. He was a climber, and won his first professional race in a mountain stage of Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. He won the Mountains Classification in Vuelta a España four times, one short of the record of five held by José Luis Laguía.
Jeremiah Bishop is a professional mountain bike racer from the United States. He competes in ultra-endurance mountain bike racing, mountain bike stage racing, and the Olympic-discipline event of cross-country cycling.
This is a glossary of terms and jargon used in cycling, mountain biking, and cycle sport.
Mountain bike racing is the competitive cycle sport discipline of mountain biking held on off-road terrain. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) recognised the discipline relatively late in 1990, when it sanctioned the world championships in Durango, Colorado. The first UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series took place in 1988. Its nine-race circuit covered two continents—Europe and North America—and was sponsored by Grundig. Cross-country racing was the only World Cup sport at this time. In 1993, a six-event downhill World Cup was introduced. In 1996, cross-country mountain biking events were added to the Olympic Games. In 2006, cross-country mountain biking events became part of the World Deaf Cycling Championships for the first time in San Francisco, USA.
David Marshall Grant is an American actor, singer and writer.
An alley cat race is an unsanctioned bicycle race. Alley cats almost always take place in cities, and are often organized by bicycle messengers. The informality of the organization is matched by the emphasis on taking part, rather than simple competition. For instance, many alleycats present prizes for the last competitor to finish . The first race to be called an 'alley cat' was held in Toronto on 30 October 1989 and continued, in its original form, around Halloween and Valentine's Day for the following five years. In 1993, when Toronto messengers shared Alleycat stories at the first international messenger race, the name and the concept spread far and wide. Regularly organized Alleycats can be found in cities across North America, Europe and Asia. Many smaller cities with no cycle messenger population are also home to alleycats run by the burgeoning urban cyclist subculture.
The 1909 Giro d'Italia was the inaugural running of the Giro d'Italia, a cycling race organized and sponsored by the newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport. The event began in Milan on 13 May with a 397 km (247 mi) first stage to Bologna, finishing back in Milan on 30 May after a final stage of 206 km (128 mi) and a total distance covered of 2,447.9 km (1,521 mi). The race was won by the Italian rider Luigi Ganna of the Atala team, with fellow Italians Carlo Galetti and Giovanni Rossignoli coming in second and third respectively.
Lars Petter Nordhaug is a Norwegian former road bicycle racer, who competed professionally between 2005 and 2017 for the Joker–Bianchi, Belkin Pro Cycling, Team Sky and Aqua Blue Sport teams.
Jeremy Powers is an American former professional racing cyclist, who took over 90 UCI victories, four USA Cyclocross national championships, and the 2015 Pan American Championship during his career. He now works for the Global Cycling Network.
Peter Sagan is a Slovak professional road bicycle racer, who currently rides for UCI WorldTeam Bora–Hansgrohe. Sagan had a successful junior cyclo-cross and mountain bike racing career, winning the Junior Mountain Bike World Championship in 2008, before moving to road racing.
Roel Paulissen is a Belgian professional mountain biker. Throughout his sporting career since 1993, he has won more than ten Belgian national championship titles, mounted top-five finishes at both the European and World Cup series, and claimed a total of four medals, including two golds, in men's cross-country race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. Paulissen also represented his nation Belgium in four editions of the Olympic Games, where he competed in men's mountain biking since it officially became an Olympic sport in 1996. By the start of the 2010 season, Paulissen had been overshadowed by a doping issue after he tested positive for clomiphene that sidelined and effectively ended his mountain biking career. Having lifted a two-year suspension from doping in early 2013, Paulissen came out from his short retirement to join and race professionally for the Italian team Torpado.
Luca Bercovici is a multi-role American filmmaker, having worked extensively as director, writer, producer and actor.
Michael Richard Hall was a British cyclist and race organiser who specialised in self-supported ultra-distance cycling races. In 2012, he won the inaugural World Cycle Race. In 2013 and 2016, he won the Tour Divide ultra-endurance mountain bike race across the Rocky Mountains in Canada and the United States. In 2014, he won the inaugural Trans Am Bike Race, a road-based event from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast in the United States. From 2013, he was the principal organiser of the Transcontinental Race, an event similar to the TransAm Bicycle Race, but that traverses Europe. Michael Hall was also featured in the cycling film Inspired to Ride a film directed by Mike Dion.
The Trans Am Bike Race (TABR) is an annual, self-supported, ultra-distance cycling race across the United States. The route is about 4,200 miles (6,800 km) long and uses the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail that was developed by the Adventure Cycling Association for the Bikecentennial event in 1976. The route runs from the Pacific coast in Astoria, Oregon to the Atlantic coast in Yorktown, Virginia, passing through ten states. The inaugural race was in 2014, which 25 people completed, the fastest of whom took less than 18 days.