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30 years later, 'American Flyers' still a forgotten Kevin Costner classic

When '80s fans namecheck Kevin Costner's best flicks of the decades, the same movie names always come up: Bull Durham, The Untouchables, Field of Dreams, Fandango. But rarely mentioned is the movie that turns 30 years old this week: American Flyers.

Released on Aug. 16, 1985, American Flyers is the story of a sports physician (Costner) who is alienated from his family. Still he talks his younger, directionless brother (David Marshall Grant) into training with him for a cycling race across the Rocky Mountains - the Hell of the West. Oh, one thing, Costner has a brain aneurysm that may or may not have been passed down from their late father. Think of it as a Breaking Away in the '80s in that it probably inspired a lot of '80s teens to take up cycling. (Me? Not so much. But I love the movie anyway.)

The movie was directed by John Badham, who is best known for Saturday Night Fever and WarGames. Critics weren't quite sure what to make of his work. The late Roger Ebert gave American Flyers 2 1/2 stars, saying the movie's slew of unanswered questions led him to believe key scenes must have mysteriously ended up on the editing room floor.

"The bicycle race is brilliantly photographed and very exciting, despite the fact that we can easily guess who will win. The performances are all interesting, especially Rae Dawn Chong's sweet patience as the girl friend," Ebert wrote. "There are some great supporting characters, including John Amos as Grant's trainer and Doi Johnson as Amos' chubby teenage son, who hates to exercise and dreams of being the first black bowling star. … But American Flyers is shaky at the core, because it tries to tap-dance around its own central issues."

Here are three things you probably didn't know about American Flyers.

1. The cast is full of interesting actors in small roles. Jennifer Grey appears as a blind date for the younger brother. Robert Townsend has a bit role as one of the members for a rival cycling team.

2. In the film, during a race through the mountains, a cyclist is shown falling off the cliff. That actually happened, but the actor (an extra) escaped with minor injurers when he was snagged by a small tree.

3. Costner's cycling rival in the film is Muzzin, whose nickname is "The Cannibal." That's the same nickname of five-time Tour De France champion Eddie Merckx, who also appears in the film.