People tend to love lists. But the thing with lists is that too often people use them as a crutch and hastily throw together their "Best [insert anything under the sun] of the decade" without much time, effort or thought put in to it. Lists are just like anything else, if they're done right, they can be both highly entertaining and tremendously useful.
Ray Didinger and Glen Macnow's "The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies: Featuring the 100 Greatest Sports Films of All Time"
is done right. It obviously lists what they've decided are the best sports movies of all time, but it's the interviews and quotes with the people who were actually involved in making the movie that makes this a good read. It's the scratching beneath the surface that makes their book so enjoyable.
We had the chance to ask Glen Macnow a few questions about the book.
Enrico: The book is clearly more than just one
long list. The mini interviews with athletes, actors, and celebrities
are some of the most entertaining parts of the book. What was the most
fun aspect about doing a book like this?
Glen: Going back and seeing movies that I've seen a dozen times or more and studying both the movie, the history of the movie, and talking to people in the movie and learning things about the movie that I never knew. That was the most fun.
Moments in the book where you tell of classic scenes or throw in
a money quote almost transport you back into the movie, where reading
the book is a similar escape to sitting in a movie theater. Was that
something you were aiming for or something that just happened along the
I don't know if it was something we were aiming for but we really wanted to give people more than just a list and we really wanted to give people something that was more than just a recapitulation of the script. We wanted to take works of art that we know people love and really give you stuff that is interesting and fun and different about them that you didn't know. If it allows you to get caught up in it in a way that you felt like you were watching a movie then that's great, then it worked.
If Rocky would have won against Creed in their first bout, does it even crack the top ten?
That's an interesting question because the whole point of Rocky is that he doesn't win -- except that he does. If he wins the fight, in many ways it becomes just another movie. So the beauty of it was in the ending. No, had he won the fight it wouldn't have been Rocky, it wouldn't have been the movie, it wouldn't have been half as good.
wasn't totally in agreement with your inclusion of a few quasi-sports
movies. Are chess and poker really a sport whereas the incredible
bowling skills of Donnie and The Dude are overlooked?
Well, the Big Lebowski wasn't really about bowling. I love the Big Lebowski but it was about guys that happen to get together and bowl. There is a chapter on sports scenes in non-sports movies. We went with poker with the criteria that if ESPN airs it and sports pages cover it, we'd consider it.
Finally, best sports movie that didn't make the book, The Cutting Edge?
[Laughs] Yeah right. Actually we did mention The Cutting Edge in the book in the "sports date movies" section. I can tell you the last movie in and what it knocked out. The last movie in was number 55, called Sugar, about Dominican baseball players that don't become the stars. It knocked out Ali with Will Smith which we had in the last spot. It was ultimately a disappointing movie but there was enough about it that we liked.
You can pick up a copy at your local book store or order it on Amazon here: The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies: Featuring the 100 Greatest Sports Films of All Time