Most people who know me know I LOVE the Olympics. I fully admit to having very mixed emotions about the Olympics being held in Sochi but I will always support our athletes. I sincerely hope and pray my uneasy feeling about a tragedy happening this year will be about something else like the Groundhog predicitions and not the Olympics. I’m starting my Olympics prep in several different ways. This past week it is in viewing my favorite Olympics inspired movies.
The Jesse Owens Story
This made-for-TV biopic aired in 1984. This movie inspired me with a true adoration of the life of a runner and was solidified as I got to watch Carl Lewis win 4 gold medals at the LA games that summer. The movie is about the life of James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens, among the most gifted American athletes ever. The movie tells the story of how the black track star (played by Dorian Harewood) stunned the world and ticked off Adolf Hitler by winning four gold medals during Berlin’s 1936 Nazi showcase Olympics. On top of that, it co-starred LeVar Burton. I know! Mr. Burton!
My second Olympics movie I feel in love with was Running Brave which tells the story of Billy Mills, a Native American Indian man who came from obscurity to win the 10,000 meter long distance foot race at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. To this day, he is the only American to ever win gold in that particular event, a feat which some have called one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history.
The Cutting Edge
We move from inspiring to the world of early 90’s romcoms. Starring Moira Kelly as Kate — a figure skating diva who is, much to her chagrin, paired with washed up hockey player Doug (D.B. Sweeney) for the Olympic finals. Will the pair find love and win the gold? Ummm…duh! When the two fall in love and beat the Soviets in the Olympics you know that it’s truly a match made in romcom athletic heaven.
Cool Runnings –
I’m not going to lie. Cool Runnings is and always will be my favorite Olympics inspired comedy. John Candy + Doug E Doug = Gold! When the Jamaican bobsled team made their debut at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, it didn’t take Hollywood long to come knocking. By 1993, Disney released Cool Runnings, the story of four Jamaican men and their coach, played by John Candy, who struggle to learn the sport and compete for Olympic gold. The bobsledders are played by Leon Robinson, Doug E. Doug, Malik Youba, and Rawle D. Lewis — their characters were all loosely based on the real Jamaican bobsled team members. I watched this so many times at the $1 theatre when it came out it is not funny.
Blades of Glory – What about two men donning sparkling spandex and throwing each other around the ice isn’t inspiring? I love comedy or as my husband would say, “You love dumb physical comedy.” Whatev. It is true. The more crotch kicks the better. I will not apologize for my love of figure skating or my juvenile Three Stooges-esque humor.
The Great Ones I Should Be Ashamed I Haven’t Seen Yet
Chariots of Fire –
I am most ashamed for not seeing Chariots of Fire. It tells the true story of two British athletes preparing to compete in the 1924 Summer Olympics. Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), who is Jewish, overcomes anti-Semitism to compete with Eric “Flying Scotsman” Liddell (Ian Charleson), whose devout Christian convictions drive him to race. I have reenacted its famous beach scenes accompanied by the legendary theme song by composer Vangelis, who infused the 1920s period piece with modern music, more times than I can count. It is probably the most decorated Olympics themed movie with four Oscars, including Best Picture.
2004’s Miracle is the ultimate feel-good Olympic story. It tells the true tale of the 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team which famously beat the heavily favored team from the U.S.S.R. in the medal round — the win was dubbed “the miracle on ice.” The Russians had won 42 straight games before facing the U.S., so “miracle” really isn’t much of an overstatement. I love Kurt Russell who stars as Herb Brooks, the Minnesotan player-turned-coach who leads his hand-picked team of hockey players to victory. But their journey isn’t without adversity. The players must overcome old rivalries, and get their heads in the game if they’re going to seize Olympic glory. I know the speech so often performed by various characters on Youtube but that is all I know.
Men with Brooms
I find the idea of men picking up brooms rather erotic. Alas, it is for curling and not cleaning the house which puts a bit of a damper on things. This 2002 comedy is about four has-been curlers from Ontario who honor the last wish of their dead coach by reuniting for a chance to win the Golden Broom. It’s Canadian quirky, directed by Paul Gross. It has Leslie Nielsen which falls right into my favorite comedy realm. This is on my must see list!
“How fast must a man go to get from where he’s at?” asks this 1969, high-action ski movie starring hunky Robert Redford as the edgy loner David Chappellet. He makes the U.S. Olympic team, seduces actress Camilla Sparv and clashes with the tough coach (Gene Hackman). Why does he do it – ski brutally, faster, than anybody else? In the words of Chappellet, “To be a champion.” Redford even did much of his own skiing. Swoon.
What movies did I miss? What is your favorite Olympics inspired movie?