Coming soon: iconic Aussie sports movies
The Mad Chatter recently got up at all hours of the morning to watch The Jackie Robinson Story on community station TVS.
Robinson was a six-time All-Star, National League MVP, World Series champion, Hall of Fame second-baseman for the famed Brooklyn Dodgers. He was named in the Major League Baseball team of the century and in 1997 had his famous #42 jersey retired by the league. Not just by the Dodgers but by every club.
Trophies and stats sell Robinson’s legend short because he was more than just a ball-player. In 1947, he broke baseball’s colour line, becoming the first African-American to play in the majors. No wonder Hollywood came calling.
But it was probably a mistake to let Robinson star in his own biopic because as an actor he makes one helluva ball-player.
Thankfully, the producers of The Cup, the new Aussie film out tomorrow, cast real actors in the big-screen version of Damien Oliver’s emotional Melbourne Cup win in 2002 on Media Puzzle only days after his brother Jason was killed in a race trial fall.
Directed by Simon Wincer (Phar Lap) and starring Stephen Curry as Oliver, Daniel MacPherson, Shaun Micallef, Brendan Gleeson and the late Bill Hunter in his last role as legendary trainer Bart Cummings, The Cup is that rarest of creatures: an Aussie sports movie.
Most Australian films are made on the smell of an oily rag. Throw in big casts, especially for teams, and action sequences and the budget for a sports movie quickly spirals out-of-control and out-of-reach of the typical local filmmaker.
Hopefully, The Cup is a critical and commercial hit, paving the way for more Aussie sports movies. Here’s some The Mad Chatter would gladly fork out money to see…
The ’74 Socceroos
This is the kind of classic underdog story that Disney does so well (Miracle, Glory Road, The Rookie). Basically, you could pitch this as The Full Monty with a football and attract the ultimate All-Star Aussie cast. Picture this: Eric Bana as coach Rale Rasic, Sam Worthington as fading star Johnny Warren and Geoffrey Rush as soccer administrator Sir Arthur George. Somebody get P.J. Hogan or Robert Luketic, Australian directors who have helmed big-budget character-driven comedies, on the line.
Playboy. WWII fighter pilot. Swashbuckling champion cricketer. Miller was a charismatic, handsome, dashing figure adored by the public yet troubled by a messy personal life.
Legend has it he had a dalliance with Princess Margaret and would be snuck into Buckingham Palace in the boot of a car for late-night rendezvous’. Only one man could really do Keith Miller justice: Hugh Jackman. We’ve just gotta stop him baring his adamantium claws as Wolverine for five minutes.
Just add water and watch the budget blow-out. It’s probably easy to forget how big winning the America’s Cup was back in 1983. I mean, the whole nation stopped for a yacht race! If Cadel Evans winning the 2011 Tour de France is the greatest sporting achievement by an Australian individual then Australia II, skippered by John Bertrand, ending 132 years of American dominance is probably the greatest sporting achievement by an Australian team.
Realistically, only Baz Luhrmann and Dr. George Miller could get the kind of crazy money needed to make this project happen.
This 17 year-old daredevil from Wyong on the NSW Central Coast was a superstar in the late-70s/early-80s. The Robbie Maddison of his day, Buggins broke every bone in his body on his way to smashing all of Evel Knievel’s world records.
Tragically, Dale couldn’t cope with the pressures of fame and committed suicide when he was just twenty. Focus on his world-record 25-car jump in 1978 and “Dale Buggins” could be a fist-pumping Rocky-type triumph.
Super League War
The wounds might still be too raw for this to go into production just yet. But there’s no doubt the turbulent events in rugby league between 1995-1997 would make an engrossing TV mini-series.
Channel Nine, which will screen a mini-series about Kerry Packer and the World Series Cricket revolution next year, is the logical choice to make this. Underbelly: Super League – coming soon.
Sliced leg. Four litres of blood lost. One-hundred and eleven stitches. Eighteen months rehab. Broken neck. Two snapped vertebrae. A decade of struggle.
That’s just some of the obstacles Bradbury had to overcome to win Australia’s first Winter Olympics gold medal in the 1000m short track speed skate event in 2002.
However, the nature of his win make this film a tough sell: mass pile-ups in the semi-final and final saw Bradbury skate across the finish line as literally the last man standing. This bizarre climax is straight out of one of those taking-the-piss sports movies starring Will Ferrell.
The Cup opens nationwide in cinemas on October 13. Let’s hope it’s a beauty!
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