Page 2's Top 20 Sports Movies of All-Time
No. 4: Hoosiers (167 points)
Year released: 1986.
Cast: Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey, Dennis Hopper, Maris Valainis.
What we like: Hackman's hardscrabble, heart-of-gold performance; a batch of unforgettable scenes: Jimmy's "I'll make it" guarantee in the huddle, Ollie's underhanded game-winning free throw, coach Dale pulling out the tape measure in the massive arena before the state finals and Dale sticking to his principals early on, even if meant playing with four players or keeping the town's best players off the squad; it still ranks as perhaps the ultimate David-Goliath sports flick.
What we're willing to overlook: Hershey's stiff, stodgy school-marm turn; the fact that Dale never really seemed to do much "strategic" coaching.
Probably the best constructed of all sports movies. We're introduced to a team, given a chance to learn to like them, and then we root for them like they're the favorite team we grew up with. No gimmicks. No obvious attempts to pull at our heartstrings. No love story. Just a great high school basketball game with the underdog coming out on top. -- Page 2 columnist Bob Halloran
While "Rocky" shows what one individual can do in the face of overwhelming odds, "Hoosiers" still ranks as the ultimate parable for the underdog "team." Norman Dale's coaching strategy really consists of one simple philosophy -- always put the team first and trust your teammates. No wonder hundreds of high school coaches are still showing this film the night before the big game.
Hackman's gutty everyman charms. There is a market for this -- for all the j.v. guys, the scrubs, which is most of us, this is our epic poem. -- Page 2 columnist Ralph Wiley
Hackman breaks the movie coach cliché. He's a little bit hardass, a little bit sensitive, and a little bit confused. In other words, he's thoroughly human. And the recreation of small-town Indiana circa 1952 seems authentic. -- Page 2 columnist Jeff Merron