Based on the true story of a small-town Indiana team that made the state finals in 1954, this movie chronicles the attempts of a coach with a spotty past, and the town's basketball-loving drunk to lead their high school team to victory.Written by
Thomas Pluck <firstname.lastname@example.org>
What makes this one of the most popular sports films of all time isn't just the sport, it's because it's such a human-interest film, such a wonderful story of giving people second chances in life. Add a true-life David beat Goliath story and you have an appealing film.
It doesn't hurt that Gene Hackman is the star, either. He may not have that celebrity appeal or the looks of Clark Gable or Bratt Pitt, but this man can flat-out act! He makes a very believable high school basketball coach who is tough-but-fair on the outside and soft-and-compassionate on the inside.
The story of an extremely tiny school defying the odds and becoming a state champion in dramatic form was so inspiring that this film has played thousands of times for 20 years now by high school coaches to their kids for motivation.
But the key to the story is the coach getting a second chance in life to do what he loves and does best and he, in turn, giving others a second chance such as the alcoholic here played by Dennis Hopper. There are great lessons on teamwork, patience, tolerance and a whole bunch of other qualities. In one of the DVD documentaries, both Hackman and Hoppper comment on how many times people have approached them and THIS is the movie they mention that meant so much them. That says a lot since both men have made many famous movies.
An unsung hero of this movie is the cinematography. Man, this is beautifully filmed and the rural Midwest has never looked so pretty and appealing. It paints a beautiful picture of this part of the United States. It also paints a fond remembrance of the early 1950s. You get an honest-to-goodness feel of what it's like to be part of a basketball in this area during that time,
Basketball meant an awful lot - and still does - to these folks. If you are sports fan in particularly, this movie will bring a tear or two to your eyes. However, this story is for everyone who believes people deserve chances to overcome previous mistakes. Few films, whatever the topic, have the "heart" this movie demonstrates.
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