I guess in the last week the people who run AMC were in the mood for Hoosiers because I saw it literally three times in two days. This is a classic sports movie about the patented underdog story who accomplishes the impossible. Gene Hackman is a classic actor and he delivers as always in this film with a powerful performance. Hoosiers places Hackman as an ex-college basketball coach who was kicked out of the NCAA for assaulting one of his players in a rural Indiana town to coach the high school basketball team. Norman Dale (Hackman) must gain the trust of an unwilling town and coerce the town’s best player to come back and rejoin the team. Also, Dennis Hopper (Shooter) stars as one of the team members’ fatherswho suffers from an alcohol problem but also carries an immense knowledge of basketball. As you may have guessed, Dale provides a road to recovery for Shooter through an assistant coach position. The issue of race arises when in the final half hour of the movie, Dale and his all white team are pitted against the stronger, faster, and more experienced all black team in the state championship. Ultimately the team’s savior Jimmy Chitwood hits the winning shot at the buzzer to take home the championship as the underdog prevails in what is revered as one of the most classic sports movies of its time.
This is really one of those Americana “feel good” movies that plays on our social stereotypes and the differences in culture. For me Hackman and Hoppers’ performances carry the film along with a pretty well crafted story. The love aspect of the film between Hackman and the female High School teacher is necessary I guess but it takes away from the movie a little bit. For every guy in the class I highly recommend this film and the girls might even like it too…
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“We are going to pass five times boys before we shoot that ball”- Coach Dale
“A basketball hero around here is treated like a god… I don't want this to be the high point of his life. I've seen them, the real sad ones. They sit around the rest of their lives talking about the glory days when they were seventeen years old.” – School Teacher
"These boys only know three things: Basketball, farming, and school. Probably in that order too."- Coach Dale