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John Simkin

Sporting Movies

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The Sunday Times recently published a list of the ten best sporting movies. I could only think of two good films about sport.

Raging Bull and This Sporting Life. Any other ideas?

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How about these? I've seen most of them.

Caddyshack (Golf)

Slap Shot (Ice Hockey)

The "Rocky" series (Boxing)

The Hustler (Pool)

Chariots of Fire (Athletics)

National Velvet (Horse Racing)

Rollerball (Fictitious Futuristic Sport)

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

Seabiscuit (Horse Racing)

Downhill Racer (Skiing)

Cool Runnings (Bobsleigh Racing)

Back in the 1950s I remember seeing a movie about the history of the Harlem Globe Trotters, but I can't remember its title.

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Guest Andrew Moore

Graham has got most of those I'd name. But here are some of the not so good ones...

When Saturday Comes (Sean Bean plays for Sheffield United)

Yesterday's Hero (Ian McShane plays for Leicester Forest - a soccer team named after a motorway service station or a blend of Leicester City and Nottingham Forest; also stars Paul Nicholas and Adam Faith - and the writer is Jackie Collins...)

Escape to Victory (Sylvester Stallone is a wooden goalie, while Pele and Bobby Moore are wooden actors...)

There's International Velvet (very belated show-jumping sequel to National Velvet).

Champions (biopic - Bob Champion [John Hurt] beats cancer and wins the Grand National)

North Dallas Forty (not bad American Football movie)

A League of Their Own (women's baseball film)

The Mighty Ducks (ice hockey)

Hurricane (boxing, but not much of it, as Reuben Carter is framed for murder)

Some good films?

Three baseball movies: Bull Durham, Nine Men Out and Field of Dreams ("If you build it, they will come...")

John Frankenheimer's Grand Prix (well, quite good).

Two good documentaries from the Olympics in Germany: Leni Riefenstahl's 1936 Olympische Spiele (yes, I know it celebrates Nazism), and the portmanteau Visions of Eight (has eight directors) from München in 1972.

A great recent documentary is When We Were Kings (Muhammad Ali floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee)

If we compare these with cinema generally, then only Raging Bull is in the top rank (it seems to be an all-time favourite of many critics), while Chariots of Fire, When We Were Kings and Olympische Spiele deserve a mention.

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A great recent documentary is When We Were Kings (Muhammad Ali floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee)

I quite agree with Andrew. I could add "Ali" by M. Mann (much more violent).

The fiction is not as good as the documentary but it worth to be compared with it!

Another one, thought controversial, is "Olympia" by Leni Riefenstahl.

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In February 2001, Observer film critic Philip French nominated his 10 best sporting films of all time. They were in order :

1) The Hustler ( Robert Rossen, 1961 ) - pool

2) Raging Bull ( Martin Scorsese, 1980 ) - boxing

3) This Sporting Life ( Lindsay Anderson, 1963 ) - rugby league

4) The Arsenal Stadium Mystery ( Thorold Dickinson, 1939 ) - football

5) The Longest Yard [aka The Mean Machine ] ( Robert Aldrich, 1974 )-American football

6) Chariots of Fire ( Hugh Hudson, 1981 ) athletics - running

7) National Velvet ( Clarence Brown, 1945 ) - steeple-chase horse racing

8) Eight Men Out ( John Sayles, 1988 ) - baseball

9 ) Breaking Away ( Peter Yates, 1979 ) - cycle racing

10 ) The Moment of Truth ( Francesco Rosi, 1964 ) - bull-fighting

Numbers 1) and 2) are great pieces of film making, but I have particularly fond memories of Number 9) - Breaking Away. This film not only details, with wit and charm, the story of a young man from a blue collar background who becomes obsessed with cycling, but also examines class consciousness and class conflict - a rarity in mainstream American cinema ( Peter Yates, the film's director, is British ).

David Simkin

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I enjoy many sports movies.

I love Bull Durham

I think Field of Dreams is an entertaining movie.

to complete the Kevin Costner baseball theme,

I enjoy a much less lauded film, For the Love of the Game.

Brian's Song and Bang the Drum Slowly are famous sports tear jerkers.

Rocky I and II were good films

none of those movies rank as high on my movie list as Hoosiers.

Also I think Remember the Titans goes in the Hoosiers category of movie that rates among the better films period.

If we are throwing in documentaries, One Day in September is one of the best documentaries I have seen.

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I would add for consideration:

Pride of the Yankees (story of Lou Gehrig, with Babe Ruth playing himself)

Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday

Rudy - Notre Dame football - youthful hopes and dreams

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