From Rocky to Field of Dreams, sports movies are among the most beloved of American films. Revolving around familiar narratives like the underdog story, these movies have generated modern-day legends, reinforcing and disseminating our national myths about the American Dream.
In Sports Movies, Lester D. Friedman describes the traditional formulas that have made these movies such crowd-pleasers, including stock figures like the disgraced athlete on a quest for redemption, or the wise old coaches who help mentor the heroes to victory. He also explores how the genre’s attitudes have changed over time, especially in key issues like class, race, masculinity, and women in sports.
Along the way, he takes stock of sports films from the dawn of cinema’s silent era to the present day, including classic baseball movies like Pride of the Yankees and Bull Durham, basketball movies like Hoosiers and He’s Got Game, football movies like Friday Night Lights and Rudy, and boxing movies like Raging Bull and Million Dollar Baby. As Friedman’s analyses reveal, not only do sports movies influence our perceptions about the drama of real-life sports, but they also help to shape our attitudes toward the competitive ethos in American life.
About the Author
Lester D. Friedman is emeritus professor and former chair of the Media and Society Program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York. The author, co-author, and editor of over 20 books, he has written about Steven Spielberg, Arthur Penn, Peter Pan, Bonnie and Clyde, Frankenstein, medical movies, '70s American cinema, and Clint Eastwood.
"This compact book packs a huge punch! Engaging and illustrative, Sports Movies deftly tackles the widely popular genre of sports films. Lester Friedman skillfully unpacks the history, themes, and cultural significance of the genre while attending to the consequential ways race, class, gender, and sexuality come into play on and off the field." — Samantha Noelle Sheppard
"In this readable and insightful book, Lester Friedman invites readers to consider how movies about sport bring winners and losers into focus on the playing field and beyond.” — Thomas P. Oates