Cinema's maverick sports coaches

0

Comments

Add +

Brian Clough had a unique management style – but there are plenty of cinema sports coaches who make him seem positively orthodox. David Jenkins and Adam Lee Davies pick the best

The Natural (1984)


Sport
: BaseballTeam: New York KnightsCoach: Pop Fisher (Wilford Brimley)Irascible, ornery and as down-home as Granny’s plum cobbler, Brimley’s Pop Fisher steals the show from Roberts Redford and Duvall in this, the ‘Gatsby’ of American sports movies. A conflation of every gnarly but benign big-screen whistle-and-cones merchant, Fisher’s conspicuously hands-off approach eschews such modish conceits as training or teamtalks in favour of inspiring/belittling his charges with a vast array of impenetrable barnyard epithets.

Kes (1969)


Sport:
FootballTeam: ‘Manchester United’Coach: Mr Sugden (Brian Glover)Pudgy Northern thesp Glover wowed audiences in his debut role as the draconian games master Mr Sugden in Ken Loach’s lyrical retelling of Barry Hines’s ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’. You could hardly call Sugden an inspiring coach, what with his flexible approach to the rule book, the relentless bullying of his smaller/fatter team-mates and a penchant for off-the-ball tackles.

Slap Shot (1977)


Sport
: Ice hockeyTeam: Charlestown ChiefsPlayer-coach: Reggie Dunlop (Paul Newman)Though player-managers have long been a fixture in football, baseball and, until recently, basketball, their film equivalents remain a rare breed. Kurt Russell excelled as coach/quarterback of the Taft Rockets in the redneck ribaldry of ‘The Best of Times’ (1986) and big-boned manchild Will Ferrell’s turn as slam-dunking soul saviour Jackie Moon in last year’s ‘Semi-Pro’ flattered to deceive, but Paul Newman’s stewardship of the Charlestown Chiefs has them beat hands down.

Wildcats (1989)

Sport: American footballTeam: Central High WildcatsCoach: Molly McGrath (Goldie Hawn)This production line ‘women can too!’ laffer from 1989 sees the ever-lovable Hawn walk the mud-’n’ blood-spattered path from good-natured maternal doormat to ball-busting hell vixen as Coach McGrath. The story of a diminutive white woman/shrew who leaps at the chance of managing a team of hulking black ruffians may seem unlikely, but how else is cinema supposed to teach racial and gender tolerance in sport?

Downhill Racer (1969)

Sport: SkiingTeam: 1968 US Winter Olympic Ski TeamCoach: Eugene Claire (Gene Hackman)Gene Hackman’s gruff but indulgent Olympic coach has his work cut out instilling the value of teamwork to brash, dislikable, driven young hotshot Robert Redford in Michael Ritchie’s brooding examination of the price of success and the true ends of ambition. There’s a refreshing absence of the ‘hugging and learning’ that cruds up so many sports dramas, and though Redford hurtles toward his gold medal win, a more Pyrrhic victory is hard to imagine…

Escape to Victory (1981)


Sport
: FootballTeam: Allied Forces PoW Select XICoach: Cpt John Colby (Michael Caine)Multinational squads are commonplace these days, but not long ago the prospect of a US goalie, an Argentine playmaker and John Wark lining up alongside Pelé would have left many English fans scratching their heads. Hats off then to Michael Caine’s shouty British Army captain for drawing together a cosmopolitan team of PoWs for a tricky away fixture against a team of ruthlessly efficient Nazis.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)


Sport
: DodgeballTeam: Average JoesCoach: Patches O’Houlihan (Rip Torn)When a team of ragbag dodgeball minnows (captained by Vince Vaughn) catch a 1950s-style training video presented by clean-cut dodgeball poster-boy Patches O’Houlihan, they inevitably draft him in to bolster their ailing side. Little did they know that Patches is now an irascible, wheelchair-bound transient whose teaching methods involve lobbing socket wrenches at members of the petrified team.

Author: David Jenkins and Adam Lee Davies



Users say



Top Stories

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.

Oscar predictions

Oscar predictions

The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards

January film highlights 2013

January film highlights 2013

Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow

October film highlights

October film highlights

Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.

Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'

Martin Freeman interview

Martin Freeman interview

'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.

Sam Mendes interview

Sam Mendes interview

Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.

Ang Lee interview

Ang Lee interview

The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'

Michael Haneke interview

Michael Haneke interview

The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.

Read our interview with Michael Haneke

Thomas Vinterberg interview

Thomas Vinterberg interview

The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.

Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.

Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us

On the set of 'Sightseers'

On the set of 'Sightseers'

Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.

Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set

Tim Burton interview

Tim Burton interview

The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.

Read our interview with Tim burton

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.

Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'

What's your film guilty pleasure?

What's your film guilty pleasure?

Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.

Read 'Film guilty pleasures'

When teen stars turn serious

When teen stars turn serious

Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.

Read 'When teen stars turn serious'

50 years of James Bond

50 years of James Bond

From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.

Read '50 years of James Bond'

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.

Read the interview

Hilarious horror films

Hilarious horror films


Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.

Read 'Hilarious horror films'

Martin McDonagh interview

Martin McDonagh interview

The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.

Read the interview

Autumn horror films

Autumn horror films

We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.

Read about this Autumn's best horror movies

On the set of Skyfall

On the set of Skyfall

Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.

Read 'On the set of Skyfall'

Bond: then and now

Bond: then and now

Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?

Sally Potter interview

Sally Potter interview

The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.

Daniel Craig interview

Daniel Craig interview

'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’