Friday Favorites 10/26/2012

Tuesday night, I tried out Crackle, another free movie streaming channel on my Roku box.   Crackle is free with a twist … periodically, there is a very short commercial.  The film I was watched was The Natural, starring a not yet sun-wrinkled Robert Redford and Glenn Close prior to her Fatal Attraction stalker phase.   I intended to watch only until I was through posting but The Natural is on my Watch-Until-the-End list … which I did, dragging myself to bed at one a.m.  Like Field of Dreams, The Natural is a baseball fairy tale, contrived yet seductive.   Sports movies have many sub-genres, from comedies like Major League, to inspirational based-on-real-events sagas like Blind Side, from insider dramas like Jerry Maguire to melodramas like Rocky.

The very variety of films makes it hard to pick a favorite sport film, so I decided to consult an acknowledged expert, ESPN.com’s The 25 Sports Movies page.   I wouldn’t want to miss a favorite because of my sometimes quirky 68-year old memory.  But guess what I found?  The Color of Money, about pool.  Seriously, pool? Finding Forrester, which … hello, ESPN … is a writing movie, though there’s basketball in it.  Then there’s The Search for Bobby Fischer … about chess!  Sorry, not a sport, ESPN.   I found a film I would have forgotten, Seabiscuit, which I liked almost as much as Laura Hilldebrand’s book.  Even though horseracing is known as the sport of kings, I’m inclined to think of it as a horse movie.   Rudy, a film about a team manager for a certain team we shall only mention as an arch-rival of my USC Trojans was on the ESPN list, too, but will not, by default, make mine.  I was surprised to find the 2005 film starring Samuel L. Jackson as Coach Carter missing.   Two films that I just didn’t care for were near the top … Caddyshack and Field of Dreams.   Caddyshack had just too much Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray physical humor for my taste and Field of Dreams took the sports as fairy tale sub-genre a little farther than I could follow.   My Number 2 Sports Film, Remember the Titans, is way down at Number 10 on ESPN’s list.

Still, my favorite seems to be Number 1 on everybody’s list.  Hoosiers, set in the 1950s, follows unemployed basketball coach Norman Dale (played by Gene Hackman) as he gets a chance to coach a small-town Indiana high school basketball team.    As a disciplinarian coach stressing fundamentals and defense, he finds himself at odds with some of his players, and the team’s slow progress, along with the coach’s temper, alienates the townsfolk, who are rabid fans.  Throw in an alcoholic father (Dennis Hopper), recruited as an assistant coach and a woman teacher, Myra (Barbara Hershey), who is determined to keep the best player off the team and you have everything … drama, romance and humor.   The acting is great and Hoosiers also has some of the most realistic basketball scenes of any film.   According to Wikipedia, the film is loosely based on the Milan High School that won the 1954 Indiana State Championship.  The score, by Gerry Goldsmith  and Dennis Hopper were nominated for academy awards.  The film was marketed as Best Shot in the United Kingdom.

In one of my favorite scenes, the coach, seeing his team intimidated by the size of the stadium where the championship is to be played, has his players measure the height to the rim and distance to the free throw line.  Once they are done, he says, I think you’ll find it’s the same as our gym back in Hickory Creek.  Beautiful.

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One Comment on “Friday Favorites 10/26/2012”


  1. I’ve always had a sentimental connection to “Hoosiers.” I lived in Indy when it was released, and my fourth-grade teacher dated the man who played the star team member. He came into our classroom once. Plus, when I was a member of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, we rehearsed at Butler. I was there twice a week for three years. I even sang at Hinckley Field House. Thanks for the memories. (PS I love “Remember the Titans” as well… and “Seabiscuit,” too. I own both on DVD. Have you ever seen “Cinderella Man?” It’s about boxing, but I thought it was fantastic even though I hate boxing.)


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