Thursday, October 15, 2009

The View From the Phlipside

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Came across something this past week that thrilled me because it is, as the saying goes, right in my wheelhouse. It's a book...about movies...about sports. If anyone is looking for gift ideas for your humble radio host this one would be great. It's called the Ultimate Book of Sports Movies written by Ray Didinger and Glen Macnow. The authors noted that when they were on the radio and brought up the subject of the ultimate sports movie the phones would blow off the wall with calls. So they wrote the book. Now the book is brand new and I haven't seen it yet so I'm not going to review it here.

But the concept really grabbed me. So I jumped online to see what other lists existed of the all time great sports movies. The results are interesting. Needless to say all kinds of movies make the different lists. Even very bad ones like "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh" which was awarded the #100 slot in the book. As I scanned the lists I realized that there were a very small number of films that show up over and over again at the top of the lists. Using top 10 finishes among the half dozen lists I found there were four movies that seem to be the undisputed champs. "Bull Durham", "Raging Bull", "Hoosiers" and the original "Rocky". There is a clear gap down to the next batch which includes movies like "Rudy", "Field of Dreams", "Chariots of Fire", "Slapshot" and "The Natural".

Looking at these top four I'm interested to note some things. First of all, no football movies. Two boxing, one baseball and one high school basketball. The top football movies were "Rudy", "Brian's Song" and "Remember the Titans". Two of which are soppy, sentimental beasts. Hockey actually does a little better with "Slapshot" finishing just outside this top group. Of course there is really only one other hockey movie worth even mentioning and that's "Miracle on Ice". It's interesting to note that boxing MOVIES do so well when the sweet science is pretty much a dead letter in this country today. All four of the movies share a common theme - the underdog clinging to a belief in themselves to overcome the odds. Three of films end up with the hero not getting what they thought they wanted in the beginning (the exception being Hoosiers) but all discover something more important along the way.

The reality is that America loves the underdog. Yes, the Yankees are the greatest sports franchise of all time. But we all know that there's a special sweetness when the little guy rises up to beat the big boys every once in a while. Especially at the movies.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

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