I love "For Love of the Game and I'm not even a baseball fan. I love it because it portrays the story of Billy Chapel, an aging but talented pitcher on an underachieving team, pull off the perfect game against the New York Yankees. The fact that he wins against the Yankees - a team that, even though I'm not a baseball fan, I still manage to dislike - adds to my enjoyment of the movie. (Sorry Roger.) More than Chapel's achievement, however, I love the movie because at the time I first saw it, in my early thirties, it posed a question - a challenge, if you will - inside me. It asked me what great thing am I going to achieve and how am I going to be remembered when my glory days are over and/or long gone and I'm six feet under. Costner's character is forty when he pulls off the perfect game. I'm forty-four now so, watching it yesterday, the movie had a different kind of impact, a deeper and more pressing one, on me. Like I said, in my thirties, it made me ask "What am I going to achieve?" Today, it asks "What have I achieved?"
When I saw this movie as a younger man, combinations of emotions stirred inside me - at different parts of the film and as the credits rolled. Yesterday, I felt the same emotions although some of them in differing degrees than I did fourteen years ago. I laughed, I cringed, I cried. I could go into an entire blog about why I felt the emotions I did and how I feel about what the represent but, ultimately, as far as movies go, the fact that I felt the same emotions yesterday as I did when I first saw it - and every time in between - means that "For Love of the Game" is a fantastically good movie.
After composing myself, I started to think about other sports movies I've seen and what strong feelings they've aroused inside me that get stirred every time I watch them. There are a lot of sports movies - and classic ones, at that - I've yet to see. I've not seen "Brian's Song" from start to finish, I'm ashamed to admit but, from the ones I have seen, here's my top ten. They're listed in order with my favourite at number one, with the year they came out and the name of one of the main actors in parentheses.
1. Chariots of Fire (1981; Ben Cross)
2. Rocky V (1990; Sylvester Stallone)
3. For Love of the Game (1999; Kevin Costner)
4. The Karate Kid (1984; Ralph Macchio)
5. The Hustler (1961; Paul Newman)
6. Jericho Mile (1979; Peter Strauss)
7. Best of the Best (1989; Eric Roberts)
8. Victory (1981; Michael Caine)
9. Warrior (2011; Tom Hardy)
10. Draw - Rocky II (1979; Sylvester Stallone) and Running (1979; Michael Douglas)
What are your favourite sports movies?
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