A movie doesn't always have to be about sports to include a great sports scene. Our favorites:
Run, Forrest, run! Chased by bullies in a pickup truck, Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) sprints through a football practice, leaving the scrimmaging players in his dust. When a coach -- wearing a hound's-tooth hat -- wonders who that was, an assistant replies, "Just a local idiot." As Forrest, narrating, says, "And can you believe it? I got to go to college, too," we see him in Alabama's packed stadium, returning a kick and zipping past everyone else like they're standing still ... before running through the band and disappearing into a stadium tunnel. "He must be the stupidest sonofabitch a alive," says Bear Bryant, clapping. "But he sure is fast!"
Roger, Roger. A young passenger in Airplane! notices that co-pilot Roger Murdock (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) bears a strong resemblance to a certain sports star. "Wait a minute! I know you," says the boy. "You're Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. You play basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers." Murdock insists the youngster is confused, but the boy rattles on: "I think you're the greatest, but my dad says you don't work hard enough on defense. And he says that lots of times, you don't even run down court. And that you don't really try ... except during the playoffs." That's it. Murdock snaps: "The hell I don't! LISTEN, KID! I've been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I'm out there busting my buns every night. Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes!"
Cool Hand Luke
Stay down, Luke! In Cool Hand Luke, the toughest con on the chain gang, Dragline (George Kennedy), has had enough of new meat Luke Jackson's (Paul Newman) smart mouth, so they put on the gloves for a boxing match in the prison camp yard. From the outset, Dragline pummels the smaller Luke, repeatedly knocking him into the dirt. Clustered around the combatants, the other prisoners at first cheer the carnage, but eventually they turn away in disgust and urge Luke to give up. Finally, even Dragline is repulsed. "Stay down," he mutters. "You're beat." "You're gonna have to kill me," replies Luke, taking another wobbly swing. And Dragline hauls off and clocks him again.
The Naked Gun
Hey, it's Enrico Pallazzo! In The Naked Gun, police Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) learns that a player is supposed to kill Queen Elizabeth as she attends a baseball game. Trying to get close to the field, he impersonates first an opera star -- and sings a gloriously bad National Anthem -- then the home plate umpire. Behind the plate, he really gets into calling strikes ... dancing, moonwalking, even doing the splits. Drebin also takes every opportunity to frisk players for guns, but he finds only the usual sandpaper, electric sander and Vaseline. In the seventh inning, a hypnotized Reggie Jackson retrieves a gun hidden under second base and marches toward stands, muttering, "I must kill ... the queen." Drebin tries to stop him by firing his cufflink stun gun at Jackson, but the bullet ricochets, hitting a woman in the upper deck ... who, of course, falls on Jackson.
The Royal Tenenbaums
Game, set, match. The whole family in The Royal Tenenbaums is pretty screwed up, including tennis prodigy Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson). Like brother Chas (Ben Stiller) and sister Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), Richie peaks early, winning match after match as a youngster. And when he falls, he falls hard. A championship tennis match ends in disaster. "That's 72 unforced errors for Richie Tenenbaum," remarks a TV tennis announcer. "He's playing the worst tennis of his life. What's he feeling right now?" Replies his partner, "I don't know, Jim. There's obviously something wrong with him. He's taken off his shoes and one of his socks and ... actually, I think he's crying." And indeed he is.
French fries, gravy and girls. In Diner, it's 1959 and diehard Baltimore Colts fan Eddie Simmons (Steve Guttenberg) is getting married -- but not unless his fiancée can pass a lengthy quiz about his favorite team. As he administers the test, his friends drink beer, listen in and kibitz from an adjoining room. "What was the longest run from scrimmage by a rookie in his first game?" asks Eddie. When Shrevie (Daniel Stern) whispers, "Alan Ameche," Eddie says, "We heard that! The question is disqualified!" It's close, but she finishes with a 63 -- two points short of a passing grade. Eddie emerges from the room with a grim look on his face. "The marriage," he says, "is off."
On the Waterfront
This ain't your night. In On the Waterfront, ex-boxer-turned-longshoreman Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) confronts his brother Charley (Rod Steiger) for talking him into throwing a fight that ultimately ended his career. "You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit," says Terry. "You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money." Charley reminds Terry that they both made a little cash. "You don't understand," replies Terry. "I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been someone, Charley, instead of a bum, which is what I am. Let's face it. I'm a bum. It was you, Charley."
Back to School
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. When obnoxious millionaire Thornton Mellon (Rodney Dangerfield) goes Back to School and joins his son (Keith Gordon) in college, the boy is at first embarrassed but they ultimately reconcile. And when the swim team's star diver begs out of the big meet, the coach calls on Mellon to take his place. At first, he declines: "The shape I'm in, you could donate my body to science fiction." But Mellon finally agrees and, after loosening up with a few arm-pit noises, he jumps ... bounces off one diving board ... does two flips ... hits a lower diving board ... does another flip ... hits yet another diving board ... does a flip ... hits the third board again ... then does two flips before diving into the water. Yes -- the Triple Lindy!
A Kafka-esque experience. In a flashback in Annie Hall, Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) is at a boring cocktail party when his wife, Robin (Janet Margolin), chides him for sneaking into another room to watch TV. "Hey, you wouldn't believe this," says Alvy. "Two minutes ago, the Knicks are ahead 14 points and now ... they're ahead two points." Robin can't believe it. "Alvy," she wonders, "what is so fascinating about a group of pituitary cases trying to stuff the ball through the hoop?" Alvy looks at her. "What's fascinating is that it's physical. You know, it's one thing about intellectuals. They prove that you can be absolutely brilliant and have no idea what's going on."
So this is hell. In The Birdcage, gay cabaret owner Armand Goldman (Robin Williams) and his transvestite partner, Albert Goldman (Nathan Lane), pretend to be straight so Albert's son can introduce them to his fiancée's conservative parents. Armand, trying to get Albert to appear more masculine, attempts to talk football. "Al, you old son of a bitch! How ya doin'? How do you feel about that call today? I mean the Dolphins! Fourth-and-three play on their 30 yard line with only 34 seconds to go!" But Albert is hopeless. "How do you think I feel?" he responds. "Betrayed, bewildered ... wrong response?"