With the release of THE EXPRESS – the Ernie Davis story hitting theaters Friday – I thought I’d take some time to talk about my all time favorite sports films!
Chuck Curry’s TOP TEN sports movies!
10. BAD NEW BEARS – 1976. A funny but dark look at the world of little league baseball that still holds up beautifully today. Walter Matthau (as a pool cleaner with a drinking problem) and the cast of kids, including Tatum O’Neal, all do topnotch work. Highly entertaining!
9. NORTH DALLAS FORTY- 1979. Terrific film dealing with the dark underbelly of the world of professional football. After watching it, you will never look at the extra point the same way again! NICK NOLTE and MAC DAVIS star.
8. JERRY MAGUIRE – 1996. A sports film that looked at the wheeling and dealing inside the sports world and, for me, the best movie TOM CRUISE has ever done. Cuba Gooding Jr. was terrific as the flamboyant wide receiver who wants to be ‘shown the money’, and Renee Zellweger has never been more appealing! A totally captivating film!
7. FIELD OF DREAMS – 1989. This was an incredibly hard movie to pull off because the viewer has to really dispend their disbelief, but it’s a magical film about the love of baseball and its rich history. The film features a thoroughly likeable KEVIN COSTNER as an Iowa farmer who suddenly hears a voice, and a very classy BURT LANCASTER in his final screen appearance. The movie’s final sequence involving a simple catch between a father and son is a beautiful moment in film history!
6. MILLION DOLLAR BABY – 2004. Clint Eastwood’s Oscar winning tragic tale about the bond between a veteran down and out trainer and an amateur female boxer looking to prove herself. Hilary Swank was born to play her role as Maggie Fitzgerald, a part that won her a second Academy award. Clint’s never been better! I saw this three times in a theater – I liked it that much.
5. THE LONGEST YARD – 1974. Along with DELIVERENCE, this was the film that defined BURT REYNOLDS as he was never better playing Paul Crew, a former disgraced NFL quarterback sent to jail for reckless behavior who is blackmailed by a ruthless warden (Eddie Albert) into playing in a game between inmates (MEAN MACHINE) and prison guards. The film mixed drama and comedy and was one of the first great audience participation films where the crowd would yell back at the screen. Actor Michael Conrad is terrific as inmate and former player Nate Scarboro, a guy who gets some redemption later in his life. Final score -Mean Machine 36 Guards 35.
4. THE NATURAL – 1984. The film received a split reaction when it was released but time has proven this is a classic movie that captures the legendary attributes of America’s pasttime better than any film ever made about Baseball. ROBERT REDFORD was perfectly cast as the 35-year old Roy Hobbs, a baseball player with a mysterious past that comes out of nowhere to lead the NY Knights to a winning season. Hobbs game-winning homer at the film’s conclusion was a big change from the original 1952 novel in which the character strikes out! This was the very first movie to be produced by Tri-star pictures.
3. HOOSIERS – 1986. Inspirational story based on a 1954 Indiana high school underdog basketball team that makes a run at the State Championship when a temperamental coach (GENE HACKMAN) with a troubled past is hired to take over. Dennis Hopper is a standout in a career resurrecting performance as the alcoholic father of one of the players who gets a shot as the team’s assistant coach. His scenes with Hackman are sensational. David Anspaugh, known mostly for TV work, directed this film and RUDY. Truly a major talent!
2. RUDY- 1993. The true story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, a 5’6, 165 pound young man who harbored the dream to play football for his beloved Fighting Irish at Notre Dame University. Sean Astin is terrific as the highly likable Rudy, as are the supporting cast of characters played by Ned Beatty (Rudy’s father), Jon Favreau (Rudy’s best friend), Charles S. Dutton (the grounds keeper who befriends Rudy) and Jason Miller (head coach Ara Parseghian). This was the first movie that was allowed access to ND campus since Knute Rockne in 1940. I watch this one at least once a year.
1. ROCKY – 1976. A truly inspirational drama about going the distance, not just in the boxing ring, but in life. Sylvester Stallone wrote the story over a weekend and the film was shot in just 28 days for 1,200,000. It grossed 117,000,000 at the box-office and went on to win the Oscar for best picture. Storytelling doesn’t get any better! A timeless classic!
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