Six Movies About Sports

By Matt Prigge
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted Feb. 20, 2009

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No. More.

The Set-Up (1949):

The boxing movie is too often dominated by the like of Body and Soul, Somebody Up There Likes Me and Rocky--tales of blue collar shlubs who pound their way to the top. In reality most boxers never get higher than Robert Ryan's pugilist in this seedy, real-time B-picture from a pre-Sound of Music Robert Wise. Based on, of all things, a poem, the film itself is grimy poetry, with Ryan wasting away in a deliberately artificial urban grotto as he considers taking a dive.

Fat City (1972):

For a miserable portrait of boxers, you can do no worse than this John Huston joint--aka the best damn sports movie ever. Stacy Keach is the aging fisticuffer on the way out; Jeff Bridges is the young turk who gets a bleak vision of his future. Sorrowful Kris Kristoferson tunes line the soundtrack of a film that, more than any Hollywood effort, shows it how it really is.

Slap Shot (1977):

This blue-tongued classic finds Paul Newman as the coach/player of a minor league hockey team that finally pulls itself up from the bootstraps with liberal use of fighting, violence and cussing.

Fast Company (1979):

The real oddball in David Cronenberg's ouevre isn't the one boasting a typewriter with an erect phallus or a tooth-gun, but this low-rent Canadian racing picture that looks like it was made by anyone but the future director of Videodrome. Long before the auto-eroticism of Crash, Cronenberg delved into the mere auto-filia of living race to race.

Bull Durham (1988):

Let fans of Field of Dreams, Pride of the Yankees, et al. have their weepy paeans to the national pastime. Minor Leaguer-turned-filmmaker Ron Shelton showed how baseball really ticks with this portrait of life with those who haven't, or never will, make the Majors.

The Wrestler (2008):

60% Fat City, 40% Rocky. Hard to fret over that mix.

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1. Lucas said... on Jan 9, 2009 at 02:09PM

“How is Rocky not on this list?”

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2. mprigge said... on Jan 12, 2009 at 10:48AM

“Because it's not a hierarchial list or even meant to be definitive. In fact, the whole point of this column, if it's not immediately obvious, is to mention films that are either obscure or not often thought about. And I mentioned Rocky in the article TWICE!”

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