May 19, 2013
Written by Mark Schumann, Father of Three
Friday, 12 September 2008 08:44
With the start of football season, the many movies that feature the sport immediately come to mind. While, overall, football may be a less frequent sport on the big screen than baseball, it is the focal point for many a classic film. Check out some of these favorites for your family viewing as you wait for the next live action or televised game.
Friday Night Lights
My wife Leann, who grew up in Midland in the middle of West Texas, declares this 2004 adaptation of the best-selling book to be an accurate account of the hysteria of high school football in that part of the world. Certainly she remembers when her alma mater, the Bulldogs, competed with the Odessa Permian Panthers. On film, the intensity of high school football has never been so beautifully captured, from the striking visual treatment by director Peter Berg to the striking performance by Billy Bob Thornton as the coach. While the basic story has transferred to weekly television, check out the film for a more authentic portrayal.
Back in 1972, the highest rated television movie of the year was this memorable and moving celebration of friendship on the gridiron. Newcomer James Caan soars as Brian Piccolo, an enthusiastic running back who befriends the ambitious Gale Sayers (a very effective Billy Dee Williams) when he joins the Chicago Bears. And when Piccolo develops cancer, the two mean learn what real friends can mean to each other, as the differences they may have experienced are replaced by mutual caring and support. This film never ages. But be sure to check out the original, not the dreadful remake from a few years ago.
Heaven Can Wait
While football is on the sidelines for most of this romantic comedy, the love for the game is at the heart of its commitment to character. This delightful Oscar nominee from 1978 tells the whimsical story of a quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams (back when they were, actually, the Los Angeles Rams) who accidentally dies before he is supposed to. When he complains to the powers-that-be in the next world, he returns to earth as a wealthy businessman. Warren Beatty and Julie Christie star with superb comic support from Dyan Cannon, Charles Grodin and Jack Warden. This one is a total delight.
Remember the Titans
Back to high school football, the always-reliable Denzel Washington turns in another durable performance as a coach who tries to defy racial tensions as he motivates his players to hunger for victory. While the students may seem a bit too old to be in high school, the meaningful message is strong enough to overlook the annoying details.
Knute Rockne All American
Scenes from this classic 1940 biography graced many a television program during the political career of Ronald Reagan. Here, in perhaps his best-remembered performance, the future President scores on the football field and utters one of the movies’ most quoted lines, “win just one for the Gipper,” from the character’s deathbed. There won’t be a dry eye.
Cuba Gooding, Jr., in perhaps his only memorable performance after his Supporting Actor Oscar for playing a football player in Jerry Maguire, scores a personal triumph as a mentally challenged man who inspires a team and its town. Ed Harris is also on hand as a most patient football coach.
Enjoy the start of the football season at the stadium, on television and at the movies.
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