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The 50 Greatest Sports Movies Of All Time!
August 04, 2003
Ever since part-time boxer Elmo Lincoln became the screen's first Tarzan, in 1918, the movies have been linked with sports, reaching the heights of Olympia and the depths of Space Jam. But which are the best? Our process was democratic and unscientific. We solicited nominations from our staff, then lateraled them back and forth in meetings, in e-mails and around the Goobers dispenser until reaching consensus—which, naturally, provoked more debate. Before you scold us for excluding your favorite, consider this: There's no accounting for taste. One man's Rudy is another's...Rudy.
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August 04, 2003

The 50 Greatest Sports Movies Of All Time!

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30 The Rookie
DENNIS QUAID, RACHEL GRIFFITHS (2002)
An earnest Quaid has the right stuff in this true story about Jim Morris, a failed minor league pitcher turned high school teacher-coach who gets another shot at the Show. Quaid's mound scenes pop the glove, and Griffiths supplies a mood changeup as his encouraging wife.

31 Baseball—A Film by Ken Burns
DOCUMENTARY (1994)
Vividly employing his patented and burnished technique (archival film, still photos and talking heads), Burns furnishes, in 18½ enthralling hours, an unparalleled history of our national pastime. Baseball's MVP? The ageless, twinkling former Negro leaguer Buck O'Neil.

32 Vision Quest
MATTHEW MODINE, LINDA FIORENTINO (1985)
We can believe that A high school wrestler, even one as lanky as Modine, could cut enough weight to fake on a foe two classes lower. But having an older woman who looks like Fiorentino move in with you because her car broke down? Well, movies are all about dreams coming true.

33 Fat City
STACY KEACH, JEFF BRIDGES (1972)
Gritty doesn't begin to describe this absorbing but overlooked tale, directed by John Huston, of two boxers, one (Bridges) on the way up, the other (Keach) on the way down. Look for Cheers's beloved Coach, Nicholas Colasanto, as trainer Ruben. He's gritty too.

34 Everybody's Ail-American
DENNIS QUAID, JESSICA LANGE (1988)
Quaid and Lange display great legs as a Big Couple on Campus in the evocative cinematic version of Frank Deford's novel about a Southern gridiron hero. John Goodman, as Quaid's boisterous buddy, and Carl Lumbly, as foil Narvel Blue, add heft and heart.

35 Million Dollar Legs
W.C. FIELDS, JACK OAKIE (1932)
This screwiest of screwball comedies has Fields as president of Klopstokia, where every woman is named Angela, every man is named George and every citizen is an Olympic-caliber athlete. They all come to Los Angeles for the '32 Games. Mayhem ensues.

36 Jerry Maguire
TOM CRUISE, CUBA GOODING JR. (1996)
In making the emotional leap from stonyhearted to softhearted, a sensitive Cruise almost gives sports agents a good name. Renee Zellweger, as his love interest, is winning, and Gooding's "Show me the money" rap never stops being funny.

37 The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick
BRAUSS, ERIKA PLUHAR (1971)
A German goalkeeper, sent to the bench after surrendering a goal, wanders through Vienna and commits a random murder. Directed by Wim Wenders, this stark, beautiful, morally ambivalent film uses soccer as a metaphor for existential dread.

38 Field of Dreams
KEVIN COSTNER, JAMES EARL JONES (1989)
Cornball, yes, but also a cornfield classic that touches the bases of nostalgia, baseball history and the bond between fathers and sons. Costner excels as ball field builder Ray Kinsella. And Burt Lancaster is unforgettable as old-timer Moonlight Graham.

39 The Harder They Fall
HUMPHREY BOGART, ROD STEIGER (1956)
In his final film Bogart plays a down-and-out sports columnist who teams with a sleazy boxing promoter (Steiger) to hype—through a series of fixed fights—a clumsy giant with a glass jaw. The verbal sparring between heavyweights Bogart and Steiger goes 12 riveting rounds.

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