Sometimes Hollywood gets decent portrayals of real characters and events. But filmmakers often tell a story to their advantage at the box office. Here are seven famous sports movies and the real stories behind each one.
1. Angry bull | 1980
The Hollywood twist: In the film, based on the autobiography of former middleweight boxing champion Jake La Motta, Bronx Bull’s younger brother Joey is a central character. He comes across as the quick director, trusted advisor and training partner of La Motta.
The real story: Joey’s character is actually a composite, mostly based on Pete Savage (born Petrella), La Motta’s friend and co-author of the autobiography. According to ESPN, most of the scenes with Joey La Motta, who was a boxer himself, actually happened between La Motta and Savage, including their breakup and eventual reconciliation. It was reported in 1980 that Joey La Motta intended to sue for libel, but no lawsuit was filed.
Academy Awards: The film was nominated for eight awards. Robert De Niro, who played the main character, won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
2. Chariots of fire | nineteen eighty one
The Hollywood twist: The Oscar-winning story centers on sprinters Harold Abrahams, an English Jew, and Eric Liddell, a Scottish Christian, who made headlines competing for Britain at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. When Cleric Liddell learns that his 100-meter run is scheduled for a Sunday as he boards a ship for the Games, he refuses to participate in the race. Later, his teammate Lord Andrew Lindsay offered Liddell his place in the 400, and he won a gold medal.
The real story: While it is true that Liddell refused to show up on the Sabbath, it was not a last minute decision. According to Time, the schedule of events had been released months in advance and Liddell made his decision known early on. Additionally, in the movie, Lindsay offered Liddell her place in the race just before the race, but Liddell had ample time to train for the 400 due to the published schedule. Lindsay, incidentally, is fictional but based on Lord David Bughley, who won hurdles gold at the 1924 Games.
Academy Awards: The film was nominated for seven Oscars. It won four Oscars, including one for Best Picture.
READ MORE: The Olympic Games
3. Heart like a wheel | 1983
The Hollywood twist: The biopic on Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney, known as the “First Lady of Drag Racing,” chronicles her rise to fame as she deals with skepticism, misogyny, and personal and professional relationships. Much of the film centers around her relationship with funny car driver Connie Kalitta, with whom she falls in love before the two separate and become rivals.
The real story: Muldowney, a consultant on the film, had issues with his reality. In an interview with MotorTrend, she even pokes fun at the movie poster: “They even got the color of my eyes wrong,” she told the magazine. “Look at all those patches. Pepsi? Budweiser? They weren’t even my sponsors. No, the movie didn’t capture my life very well, but more importantly, I thought the movie was very, very good for it. sport. I had 800 of these posters and we burned them. Do you know at what price we could sell them today? “
Academy Awards: The film was nominated for an Oscar, but it did not win an Oscar.
4. A league apart | 1992
The Hollywood twist: The film is about the players and manager of the Rockford Peaches during the first season of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League which lasted from 1943 to 1954. It follows sisters Dottie Hinson and Kit Keller, and their manager, Jimmy Dugan, a drunk and washed baseball star.
The real story: While the League and the Rockford Peaches were real, the beloved movie characters were fictional. Dottie Hinson, the film’s season-playing catcher, is said to be based on Dottie Kamenshek, who was in the league 10 seasons and played first base and was a hitting star for the Peaches. Jimmy Dugan, meanwhile, was a composite of former Major Leaguers Jimmie Foxx and Hack Wilson. And the league’s founder, Walter Harvey, a candy mogul, was based on the famous chewing gum Philip K. Wrigley.
Academy Awards: The film was not nominated.
5. Rudy | 1993
The Hollywood twist: As the final Notre Dame football game of the season looms, teammates of 5ft 6in Rudy Ruettiger drop their jerseys one by one on Dan Devine’s desk, defiantly imploring the coach. -chief to let him dress and play.
The real story: Yes, Ruettiger played in the dying 17 seconds of Notre Dame’s 1975 game against Georgia Tech. And, yes, he sacked the quarterback. But the emotional jersey scene? “Completely wrong,” Devine said. The New York Times. “There is not an iota of truth in this,” he told the newspaper. “Anyone who knows me knows that if a kid walked in and put their jersey on my desk, they would never see it again.”
Professional Football Hall of Fame member Joe Montana, who was on the team, told ESPN the scene was made up. Also fictionalized: Ruettiger worked at a power plant, not a steel mill, and his angry older brother Frank in the film was invented by screenwriter Angelo Pizzo.
Academy Awards: The film was not nominated.
6. Sea biscuit | 2003
The Hollywood twist: Apparently a few days before the “race of the century” between Seabiscuit and War Admiral, jockey Red Pollard breaks his leg in a riding accident, leading George Woolf to ride in his place. A few months later, after Seabiscuit was also injured, Pollard and the horse healed just in time to race and win the Santa Anita Handicap.
The real story: According to Washington post, the best-selling book based film, Seasbiscuit: an American legend by Laura Hillenbrand, changed the race timeline for dramatic effect. In truth, Pollard’s injury took place months before the big race, and he then ran Seasbiscuit three times before the Santa Anita Handicap. The newspaper also notes that the Santa Anita event does not have “even a faint resemblance to how the race went,” and calls for a fictitious and “rude” conversation mid-race between Pollard and the jockey. rival George Woolf.
Academy Awards: The film was nominated for seven awards, including Best Picture, but it didn’t win.
7. The blind side | 2009
The Hollywood twist: In the film adaptation of the 2006 book The Blind Side: The Evolution of the Game, the life of Michael Oher is followed, from the homeless teenager to All-American college football. Adopted by the wealthy white Tuohy family, the black athlete learns to play football from his new mom, Leigh Anne Tuohy. A key scene shows her teaching him how to block during a workout.
The real story: Oher’s adoptive father, Sean Tuohy, called the film accurate. But Oher, in his 2014 autobiography, I beat the odds, did not agree. Said the former NFL player, who played for the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers for eight seasons:
“I felt like it described me as an idiot instead of being a kid who never had a consistent school education and who ended up thriving once he got it. Quinton Aaron said did a great job playing the part, but I couldn’t understand why the director chose to show me as someone to learn football from. … I watched those scenes thinking, ‘No, It’s not me at all! I’ve been studying – really studying – play since I was a kid! ‘”
Oher, who played college at the University of Mississippi, retired from professional football after the 2016 season.
Academy Awards: The film was nominated for two awards. Sandra Bullock won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for her portrayal of Leigh Ann Tuohy.