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>
I have been reading, and summing up comments about this movie. I can't believe how misunderstood this movie is. First and foremost this is not a movie about the Milan team's championship, and Bobby Plump's winning shot. The Milan game is the most famous, and storied game in Indiana and is only used as the quientessential example.
The movie is a collection of typical things that happen in Indiana High School basketball which is known as "Hoosier Hysteria". The locker room scenes are typical, found each year at tournament time. The small town involvement is typical. Players deciding if they want to succumb to the social pressures of the sport, or dreaming of winning is typical. Teacher nudging is typical. The appearance of religious faith is also typical in small town Indiana. It's right in the bible belt.
Smaller, less talented underdog teams are the life-blood of passion about playing, and winning. Winning systems, coaching tactics, fundamentals, and character-building are staples of the Hoosier H.S. game. Read John Wooden's books and you'll see them clearly. (John Wooden-Martinsville, IN; Purdue, and UCLA).
The character played by Dennis Hopper is underscored, not by his drunken state and redemption, but by his basketball knowledge. In Indiana, everyone from every walk of life knows more about the history of the game, and how to win the game than the coach. There are walking, talking Hoosier basketball historians in every small town.
Another Hoosier staple is the sequence of the tournament. Every march since the 1920's the Indiana H.S. tournament starts with a sectional, regional, sweetsixteen, and final four state championship. Hence, all games and scores that were shown in the movie. Although, Hickory H.S. is fictictious, the opposing team names were real Indiana schools in the western part of the state: Jasper, Linton, Logootee, etc.
The movie actually tried, but fell short in my opinion of the excitement at tournament time. The noise level, and absolute excitement of the H.S. tournaments is something you have to experience. Just walking into the gyms gives you chill bumps. Being the local game night hero is paramount, (but it creates it's own special problems.) I firmly feel, having experienced it myself, that the movie makers were trying to capture a unique phenomenon in sports using typical events. They displayed the key aspects of Indiana H.S. basketball in film to communicate the experience to the rest of the world.
I was pleased, and excited to see how many reviewers were inspired by the film. Many who lived these events over the years are similarly motivated.
P.S. Coaches do not kiss teachers except in Hollywood.
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