In honor of “42,” the recently released Jackie Robinson biopic, 42 of my favorite sports movies, in no particular order, and certainly not comprehensive:
Breaking Away (released in 1979) — An overlooked gem featuring scenery familiar to anyone who has ever spent time in Bloomington.
The Wrestler (2008) — Terrific piece of acting by Mickey Rourke and the always-lovely Marisa Tomei.
The Big Year (2011) — A movie about bird watching starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson. Box-office clunker, but it has its moments.
Major League (1989) — The most quotable baseball film ever made, with the possible exception of Bull Durham. I can still remember then-Greenfield-Central baseball coach Terry Fox yelling “Ole!” every time one of us booted a groundball during infield practice.
Other quotes: “I think someone’s been having some fun with you.”
“You trying to say Jesus Christ can’t hit a curve ball?”
“Well, you may run like Mays, but you hit like (expletive).”
Heaven Can Wait (1978) — Warren Beaty as an angel/millionaire/quarterback. The perfect role for Beaty, who also directed the film, and his alleged legendary ego.
The Last Boy Scout (1991) — The exact plot of this Bruce Willis/Damon Wayans action flick escapes me, but I recall Wayans riding a horse in the middle of a football field and throwing the ball so it intercepts a sniper’s bullet. Talk about hand-eye coordination.
Also, Halle Berry plays a stripper.
All The Right Moves (1983) — In back-to-back movies, Tom Cruise was intimate with Rebecca De Mornay on the subway (in Risky Business, released earlier in 1983), then shared a bed with pre-Howard the Duck Leah Thompson in ATRM.
Craig T. Nelson’s coach character in this high school football picture scared me to death as a 10-year-old. Maybe why I never played football.
Over the Top (1987) — If you ever find yourself in a professional arm wrestling tournament, wear a hat. Then, right before the big match, turn said hat backwards. You will not lose.
Quote: “I drive trucks, break arms, and arm wrestle. It’s what I love to do, it’s what I do best.”