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Classic Sports Movie Directors: 4 Filmmakers Who Stand Out

Image: Classic Sports Movie Directors: 4 Filmmakers Who Stand Out
Publicity photo of American director Robert Rossen. (wikimedia/commons)

By    |   Saturday, 02 May 2015 03:38 AM

We all love to root for an underdog, and these four directors used this truth to their advantage. Creating movies that recount the trials and triumphs of athletes from a variety of sports, these movie directors gave us some of our favorite classic sports films.

1. Robert Rossen


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This director was closer to some of his characters than moviegoers might think. Hailing from New York City, Robert Rossen started his career as a professional boxer, eventually leaving that profession to become a writer and director, according to Turner Classic Movies. In 1947, he directed "Body and Soul," the story of a young boxer who finds himself under the protection of a corrupt promoter, mirroring in many ways Rossen's actual experiences in this sport. After a rise and subsequent fall in his career, Rossen's final great film was "The Hustler" (1961) which follows a pool player trying to reestablish his career with the help of an unethical manager. This film won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction and Cinematography and earned Rossen a nomination for Best Director.

2. Clarence Brown

Originally planning for a career in the automotive industry, according to Turner Classic Movies, Clarence Brown worked on several sports-themed films throughout his career. Beginning with 1944's "National Velvet," the story of a retired jockey helping a girl train a horse for England's Grand National Sweepstakes, Brown liked to add fanciful overtones to his sports films. After the modest success of his racing-inspired film "To Please a Lady" (1950), Brown seemed to find the perfect combination between romanticism, humor, and sports in his 1951 classic, "Angels in the Outfield." His penultimate film, "Angels in the Outfield" appealed to a wide audience that grew over time, earning it a modern reboot in 1994.

3. John Avildsen

By the time John Avildsen added mastery of sports films to his list of accomplishments, he had already directed several successful films in other genres. However, in 1976, he directed one of the greatest and most recognizable sports films of all time: "Rocky." This memorable piece earned him an Oscar for Best Director, the Los Angeles Times reports. He followed this up eight years later with another of the most beloved sports-themed movies of all time, 1984's "The Karate Kid." Building on this movie's success, he directed two additional films for the series in 1986 and 1989. Additionally, taking over after Sylvester Stallone served as director for the intervening three films, Avildsen also directed "Rocky V" (1990).

4. Michael Ritchie

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Credited as director for several sports films, according to the Internet Movie Database, including "Downhill Racer" (1969), "Wildcats" (1986), and "The Scout" (1994), Michael Ritchie is best known in the sports genre for his films "The Bad News Bears" (1976), "Semi-Tough" (1977), and "Cool Runnings" (1993). Masterfully combining comedy and sports, Ritchie's films have entertained audiences of all ages for the past 50 years.

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We all love to root for an underdog, and these four directors used this truth to their advantage. Creating movies that recount the trials and triumphs of athletes from a variety of sports, these movie directors gave us some of our favorite classic sports films.
classic, sports, directors, movies, filmmakers
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2015-38-02
Saturday, 02 May 2015 03:38 AM
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