Pin me down for my two favorite sports movies and you’ll get Caddyshack and Slap Shot. Now more than ever.
They are perfect for pandemic watching. Because no matter how many times you have seen them, they are still delightful entertainment.
Maybe Casablanca has more famously remembered lines than Caddyshack. Maybe not.
One of my favorite lines in Caddyshack isn’t even in Caddyshack. It’s in a sweet little book, ``A Disorderly Compendium of Golf,’’ by Lorne Rubenstein and Jeff Newman. It contains fascinating lists, anecdotes, backstories, all kinds of golf things.
Early in the book, there is a list of ``Ten Most Memorable Lines from Caddyshack.’’ Turn a few more pages, and there’s another list of ``Ten Most Memorable Lines from Caddyshack.’’ Keep turning the pages—and you’ll see five lists of ``Ten Most Memorable Lines from Caddyshack.’’
``Be the ball’’ . . . ``I don’t think the heavy stuff is going to come down for quite a while.’’ . . . ``The last time I saw a mouth like that, it had a hook in it.’’ . . . ``Cinderella Story.’’
All of these years later, lines from Caddyshack still come up regularly on golf courses. And they still are a joy.
Slap Shot works pretty much the same way. Sportswriters love to quote the movie’s scribe, Dickie Dunn: ``I tried to capture the spirit of the thing.’’ . . . And when the referees warns the Hanson brothers during the National Anthem, we loved the response, ``I’m listening to the [effing] song.’’ We tried to say that wherever anthems were sung.
Even when Dale Tallon had crossed over, from broadcaster to NHL general manager, I always appreciated hearing him say, ``I'm listening to the [effing] song.'' . . . ``Two minutes by yourself. You feel shame.'' . . . ``The [effing] machine stole my quarter.'' . . . My late friend Tim Sassone loved it when a fan tells Paul Newman they need to fix the crummy power play. And Newman, in the middle of a heart-to-heart in a bar, says, ``Yeah, we're working on it.'' And goes right back to his conversation.
Anyway, Caddyshack and Slap Shot are always welcome.
For baseball, I would go with A League of Their Own, Eight Men Out and Major League—for very different reasons. A League of Their Own captures the essence of sports in a very touching way. Eight Men Out is such a good rat-a-tat-tat history/period piece. And Major League is silly fun.
For basketball, Hoosiers ``captures the spirit of the thing,’’ and it’s a beautiful period piece. Run the picket fence! Great stuff. . . Hoop Dreams is a marvelous 1994 documentary about two players from Westchester St. Joe’s, the suburban Chicago high school that Isiah Thomas attended.
I can’t say that I have an absolute favorite football movie, although I would like to see Everybody’s All-American again. It was an excellent saga back in the day. The Blind Side is really good. Love the cameos by Nick Saban, Ed Orgeron and many other coaches. But football is not at the heart of that movie. . . My pandemic-viewing recommendation for football is the TV series Friday Night Lights. The movie version is OK. But the TV series is outstanding—in my top-10 best drama series. Very binge-worthy, if you have a lot of time.
But how about some really good old-school stuff you might not have seen? Or might want to revisit?
For gamblers, give me The Hustler (pool) and The Cincinnati Kid (poker). When Jackie ``Minnesota Fats’’ Gleason calmly washes up before bouncing back to beat Paul Newman—that’s pure. And The Cincinnati Kid is loaded with great actors in New Orleans playing out a very dramatic script. Steve McQueen, Edward G. Robinson. Ann-Margret. Music by Ray Charles.
The list of remarkable boxing movies goes on and on. The farther back you go, the better they get, as far as I’m concerned.
I haven’t seen any of these in a while, but they are high on my to-do list: Requiem for a Heavyweight (Anthony Quinn, Jackie Gleason, Mickey Rooney), from a Rod Serling teleplay. A young Muhammad Ali whaling on Quinn is pure. . . Others on my list are The Harder they Fall (Bogart) and Body and Soul, with John Garfield. Yeah, I’m old-school. Sorry. Not.
And remember, the best boxing line wasn’t in a boxing movie. It was in On the Waterfront.
Otherwise, it could have been a contender.