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Features
The 50 Greatest Sports Movies
We rank the very best sports films

Ah, sport. Small boys in the park, jumpers for goalposts, a desperate last shot on target as the seconds tick down on the clock – or some combination of such ingredients, anyway. The sports movie is the perfect vehicle for tales of competition, triumph, desire and despair – and what could be more film friendly than that? Ahead of this summer's biggest sporting event, we took a look at the best sports films ever made...

WORDS STEPHEN CARTY, IAN FREER, HELEN O'HARA, CHRIS HEWITT, ALASTAIR PLUMB, PHIL DE SEMLYEN, JAMES WHITE, OWEN WILLIAMS

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50

National Velvet (1944)

DIRECTOR Clarence Brown
STARS Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Donald Crisp, Angela Lansbury, Anne Revere, Jackie Jenkins

The 1935 book by Edith Bagnold spawned this highly successful (if very different) adaptation, which charts what happens when you combine a headstrong young woman (Taylor), a former jockey (Rooney) and a spirited gelding won in a raffle. The mixture, added to a story that hits some compelling sporty plot points (both low and high) and includes a big triumphant finish, scored the movie five Oscar nominations and two wins. That has to be some consolation for what proved a very difficult shoot for its star; Taylor suffered back injuries here that troubled her for the rest of her life. It also managed to spin off both a TV series, a TV movie version and a lesser-known sequel, International Velvet, in 1978, not to mention establishing the young Elizabeth Taylor as one to watch.

QUICK POLL Should National Velvet be higher on the list?
Higher
Off the list!

The Stats
THE SPORT
Horse racing
THE PLAYER
Velvet Brown (Taylor)
DOCUMENTARY?
No.
DEFINING MOMENT
Velvet, against everyone's wishes, decides to ride Pi the horse herself in the Grand National and wins, only to collapse from the saddle with exhaustion before reaching the victors' enclosure.
KEY TACTICS
Latvian jockeys are unreliable. Do it yourself!
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Have your say Agree with the list? Which sports movie would you add to the list? Register or login now to have your say.


Your Comments

1 Underdog film
Dodgeball certainly remains one of the classic underdog films, not just for its inspirational value, but its usual comedy, too. And perhaps some of the others could make this list too: http://www.ranker.com/list/best-movies-about-underdogs/ ranker-film Read More

Posted on Wednesday June 18, 2014, 18:51 by Imperion

2 See Also
Karate Kid, The Waterboy, The foot fist way, Hot rod, Caddy Shack, The mighty ducks, coach carter, blades of glory, mean machine, leatherheads, the ringer, nacho libre, kicking and screaming, baseketball, remember the titans, brians song, don king: only in america, cinderella man, million dollar baby, somebody up there likes me, the boxer, knuckle, bend it like beckham, fever pitch, zidane Read More

Posted on Saturday September 15, 2012, 18:42 by bnicholson50

3 RE: What the Hell!?
l largely an excuse for Chaplin to show off his legendary slapstick skills and rubbery physical abilities while poking fun at sports clichés and underdog stories, but it's still more entertaining than most of the films it skewers. ow exactly does Chaplin, in 1915, skewer films that are very very far from being made and poking fun at sports clichés that do not yet exist? Read More

Posted on Wednesday July 25, 2012, 00:42 by Evil_Bob

4 RE: Rocky - third place
BASEketball should totally be in here. Okay it's not a real sport, but it is a sport movie. And it's funny as shit wise a pretty damn solid list. (Rocky 2-4 should be included as well, but maybe that's being a bit greedy...) Read More

Posted on Tuesday July 24, 2012, 13:55 by Whistler


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