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The 50 Greatest Sports Movies Of All Time!
August 04, 2003
Ever since part-time boxer Elmo Lincoln became the screen's first Tarzan, in 1918, the movies have been linked with sports, reaching the heights of Olympia and the depths of Space Jam. But which are the best? Our process was democratic and unscientific. We solicited nominations from our staff, then lateraled them back and forth in meetings, in e-mails and around the Goobers dispenser until reaching consensus—which, naturally, provoked more debate. Before you scold us for excluding your favorite, consider this: There's no accounting for taste. One man's Rudy is another's...Rudy.
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August 04, 2003

The 50 Greatest Sports Movies Of All Time!

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40 The Longest Yard
BURT REYNOLDS, EDDIE ALBERT (1974)
Reynolds is a forceful presence playing a convict and ex-quarterback now calling signals for his prison squad. Former Green Bay Packer Ray Nitschke is among Reynolds's formidable foes, as is Albert, the sinister warden. (Is there ever any other kind in the movies?)

41 Remember the Titans
DENZEL WASHINGTON, WILL PATTON (2000)
No cliché is overlooked in this fact-based Disney movie detailing the integration of a Virginia high school and its football team in 1971. But Washington (as the black coach put in charge) and Patton (as the white coach who has to swallow his pride) are terrific.

42 The Pride of the Yankees
GARY COOPER, TERESA WRIGHT (1942)
Cooper achieves a quiet nobility and grace in this sentimental biography of Lou Gehrig. To mimic the lefthanded Iron Horse, Cooper—a righthander—wore a uniform with the number reversed and ran to third base instead of first. When processed, the film was flipped.

43 Fists of Fury
BRUCE LEE, MARIA YI (1971)
Typecast on American TV, San Francisco-born Lee returned to Hong Kong, where he had been a child star. The best of the "chop sockies," in which the small, corkscrewy martial arts master takes on all comers, Fists sparked a worldwide craze for kung fu flicks.

44 The Deadliest Season
MICHAEL MORIARTY, KEVIN CONWAY (1977)
This made-for-TV hockey movie details the fate of a defenseman (Moriarty) who becomes goonish in an attempt to extend his career. He kills a foe on the ice and is tried for manslaughter, turning Season into a gripping courtroom drama. Conway is compelling as the defense lawyer.

45 Grand Prix
JAMES GARNER, EVA MARIE SAINT (1966)
This pioneering formula One movie uses split screens and 70-millimeter cameras strapped to vehicles (which were jacked up on the other side for balance) to convey the sensations of a race. The driven characters take a backseat to the high-octane crashes.

46 Any Given Sunday
AL PACINO, CAMERON DIAZ (1999)
Director Oliver stone created the first football film for the music-video age, a movie full of quick, jarring cuts and slam-bang action. Pacino is credibly harried as a dictatorial pro coach clashing with his controlling owner (Diaz) and his rebellious young quarterback (Jamie Foxx).

47 It Happens Every Spring
RAY MILLAND, JEAN PETERS (1949)
A lighthearted romp about a chemistry professor (Milland) who accidentally invents a compound that repels wood. To test it from the mound, he tries out for the big leagues, makes a team and proves unhittable. This gem anticipates steroids and corked bats.

48 The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings
BILLY DEE WILLIAMS, RICHARD PRYOR (1976)
It's 1939, eight years before Jackie Robinson will cross major league baseball's color line, and a rowdy African-American team is barnstorming the country. The script is sneakily subversive: For a black man to succeed in a white world, he must clown and cakewalk.

49 Phar Lap
TOM BURLINSON, RON LIEBMAN (1983)
This beautifully filmed Australian period piece is a loving biography of the thoroughbred that captivated the land Down Under in the 1920s and '30s. The movie touchingly depicts the relationship between Phar Lap and the groom (Burlinson) who cares for him.

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