Last night, dear readers, I found myself to be in the fortunate position of sharing the company of a good friend whose name I shall not mention on this page, but who, I may dare to say, is a famous writer for a successful television show in that land of bacchanal and debauchery: Hollywood, USA. This man - my friend - plucks the grapes of victory and achievement from their bunches on the vine and tastes their succulence with lecherous aplomb. Here is a man who does not find need to grasp, hands outstretched and face pale, at success or fame; indeed, one cannot grasp at that which is embodied in one's soul. Have I mentioned that this friend is a famous and quite brilliant television writer, writing for a show of great drama and civil awareness?
As we sat in a local drinking establishment near the Pacific Ocean, this friend and I engaged ourselves in a conversation regarding the greatest sports movies ever made. I hope you find it to be no surprise that both he and I adamantly defended the film "Hoosiers" as the greatest of the bunch (choice quote: "Look, mister, there's... two kinds of dumb, uh... guy that gets naked and runs out in the snow and barks at the moon, and, uh, guy who does the same thing in my living room. First one don't matter, the second one you're kinda forced to deal with.")
Both my esteemed friend and I were born and raised in Indiana - land of Indians - and delighted in expressing to each other the joy in having such an accomplished film bear our names - for yes, we are still Hoosiers. Our excitement in retelling certain scenes from the film, and our shared reverance at the accomplishment of the filmmaking soon subsided, as we labored to identify the next films on our list.
Would you believe me if I told you that this friend, a man I hold in such high regard, one whose profession is the writing and crafting of stories for the cinema, would dare to admit that his second favorite sports film of all time is "Any Given Sunday"? Certainly, I'm sure, for Cameron Diaz's intricately nuanced performance as something or other, or Al Pacino's spittle-heavy shout and schlock fest. But, to each his own. My point is not to judge, but rather to relate.
One football film we could both agree on was, I'm sure you could guess, "Rudy". As my friend so eloquently put it, "Here was a film that should not have been made, but it was made and it was great." I've said it before, and I will say it again: can we all please admit that earnestness is long overdue for a return to the arts? Rudy is the logical first building block to this new Renaissance. Please inform me of others, as you see fit.
My personal second favorite sports film is the indomitable "Field of Dreams". This is just another example, set forth in "Hoosiers", "Rudy", and another film that shows up slightly later on my list, "Breaking Away", that the rules that govern good sports films state that a significant part of a film's story must involve a difficult father/son relationship. Sometimes it is a son trying to prove his worth to his father (read: Rudy, Breaking Away), and sometimes the logic is inverted and it is the father trying to prove his worth to his son (read: Hoosiers, Field of Dreams). Either way, it has long been my contention that men will cry with little abandon at the sight of a reunited or reconciled father and son relationship, but will hardly bat an eyelash at a movie like "Sleepless in Seattle". Sorry ladies, but our clan is the tribe of men.
There are other films that were mentioned - Bull Durham, My Giant*, Raging Bull, Bad News Bears. You know what film wasn't mentioned? "Bend it Like Beckham". I'm assuming that this film wasn't brought up in our discussion because neither of us saw it, nor will we ever. The title makes it sound like a gay porn film, and it's about girl athletes in Britain. Who watched this film? You should all be shot.
In closing, I leave with you the chorus of the best state song that was ever written:
Back home again in Indiana
And it seems that I can see
The gleaming candlelight still shining bright
Through the sycamores for me.
The new-mown hay sends all its fragrance
From the fields I used to roam,
When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash
Then I long for my Indiana home.
*Note: not actually discussed