HOOSIERS (1986)

dir. David Anspaugh. Gene Hackman plays a basketball coach with a mysterious C.V., who moves to a small town in Indiana to whip the talented but undisciplined team into shape, while making connections with a small town hostile to outsiders. This is the kind of movie that the filmmakers behind THE WAY BACK (2020) were shooting for, but missed. Roughly based on the true story of a small rural high school winning a state basketball championship in 1954, beating out much larger schools. Vintage Gene Hackman. I love watching him lose his temper at bad referee decisions – “You got pigeon shit in your eyes?!” The weaker moments are still the overly sentimental scenes, like the awkward love plot. Wonderful and sad to see Dennis Hopper playing the alcoholic father of one of the players, trying to get his life back on track. Amazingly, this was in the same year he played the deranged Frank Booth in David Lynch’s BLUE VELVET. Quality performance by character actor Chelcie Ross, who later played Conrad ‘Connie’ Hilton in TV series, ‘Mad Men’. Like many old fashioned sports movies, the highlights are the games, and it is thrilling and satisfying to see this small town team struggling, and overcoming. I had to look it up, but ‘Hoosiers’ just means someone from the state of Indiana, the movie doesn’t make this clear.