Olympic Movies

Million Dollar Legs (1932)… Jack Oakie, W.C. Fields, Susan Fleming, Andy Clyde, Vernon Dent, Heinie Conklin, Ben Turpin. A small country (Klopstokia) on the verge of bankruptcy enters the Olympics in Los Angeles. Much better than it sounds.

A Million to One (1937)… Herman Brix (Bruce Bennett), Joan Fontaine, Monte Blue, Kenneth Harlan, Suzanne Kaaren, Reed Howes. Real life shot-putter Brix stars in this average film about an athlete's preparation for the Olympic decathlon. Brix actually competed in the 1932 games.

* Olympia Part One: Festival of the Nations (1938)… from imdb.com: After being commissioned by the 1936 Olympic Committee to create a feature film of the Berlin Olympics, Leni Riefenstahl shot a documentary that celebrates the human body by combining the poetry of bodies in motion with close-ups of athletes in the heat of competition. Includes the marathon, men's diving, and American track star Jesse Owen's sprint races at the 1936 Olympic games. The production tends to glorify the young male body and, some say, expresses the Nazi attitude toward athletic prowess. Includes the lighting of the torch at the stadium and Adolf Hitler looking on in amazement as Jesse Owens wins an unprecedented four Gold Medals. [Followed by Olympia Part 2. Highlights are the Pentathlon and the Decathlon, which was won by American Glenn Morris; it ends with the triumphant conclusion of the games. … Castigated for making the Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will, Riefenstahl did not make a movie for over 50 years.]

* Bob Mathias Story (1954)… Bob Mathias, Ward Bond, Melba Mathias, Paul Bryar, Ann Doran. Mathias plays himself in a biography of the Olympic track and field star. He won a gold medal in the decathlon at the 1952 games. Also touches on his family life, military career and his term as a US Congressman.

Georgie (1955)… Alastair Sim, Bill Travers. From imdb.com: Concerned about his small stature, a young Scottish boy applies for a mail-order body building course, successfully gaining both height and strength. At the age of 21, he displays a talent for hammer-throwing, and is selected to represent Britain in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia.

It Happened in Athens (1962)… Jayne Mansfield, Trax Colton, Lili Valeny, Maria Xenia, Bob Mathias, Nico Minardos. Dumb movie about an actress who marries the winner of the 1896 Olympic marathon. The guys will enjoy watching Mansfield but that's about it.

Tokyo Olympiad (1966)… Award-winning Japanese documentary about the 1964 Olympic games.

Downhill Racer (1966)… Robert Redford, Gene Hackman, Camilla Sparv, Karl Michael Vogler, Jim McMullan, Christian Doermer, Dabney Coleman. A character study of a small-town athlete who joins the Olympic ski team. Kind of talky but the skiing footage is very good.

The Games (1970)… Michael Crawford, Stanley Baker, Ryan O'Neal, Charles Aznavour, Jeremy Kemp, Elaine Taylor, Kent Smith, Sam Elliott, Mona Washbourne. Pedestrian British film about four marathon runners from different countries who are preparing for the Rome Olympics. The movie takes you through some of their personal training schedules before finally showing the event. Rafer Johnson plays one of the commentators.

The 500-Pound Jerk (1973)… James Franciscus, Alex Karras, Hope Lange, Howard Cosell, Victor Spinetti, Claudia Butenuth. An advertising man tries to turn a strong hillbilly into a weightlifting champion but he falls for a Russian gymnast. TV-movie.

The Other Side of the Mountain (1975)… Marilyn Hassett, Beau Bridges, Belinda J. Montgomery, Nan Martin, William Bryant, Dabney Coleman, Dori Brenner, Griffin Dunne. True story of downhill skier Jill Kinmont (and Olympic hopeful) who's tragic skiing accident in 1956 left her paralyzed from the neck down. Followed by a sequel in 1978.

21 Hours at Munich (1976)… William Holden, Richard Basehart, James Hurley. TV-movie about the 1972 Arab terrorist attack in the Olympic compound in which 11 Israeli athletes were murdered.

Wilma (1977)… Shirley Jo Finney, Joe Seneca, Cicely Tyson, Stacy Green, Paulette Pearson, Andrea Frierson, Jason Bernard, Charles Blackwell, Dury Cox, Denzel Washington, J. Franklin Taylor, Norman Matlock, Roger Askew. TV-movie of American sprinter Wilma Rudolph, who overcame physical handicaps and won three gold medals at the 1960 Olympics.

* International Velvet (1978)… Tatum O'Neal, Christopher Plummer, Anthony Hopkins, Nanette Newman, Dinsdale Landen. Beautifully filmed sequel to National Velvet with O'Neal playing a young Olympic equestrian hopeful.

A Shining Season (1979)… Timothy Bottoms, Allyn Ann McLerie, Constance Forslund, Ed Begley Jr., Rip Torn. TV-movie based on the true story about track coach John Baker who is dying of cancer but refuses to let the illness get him down until the very end. Worth seeing.

Running (1979)… Michael Douglas, Susan Anspach, Lawrence Dane, Eugene Levy, Charles Shamata. A 32-year-old father wants to run in the Olympics. Pass.

The Jericho Mile (1979)… Peter Strauss, Brian Dennehy, Roger E. Mosley, Billy Green Bush and Richard Moll. A prisoner, Rain Murphy, finds escape in long-distance running and wants to enter the Olympics and is denied. TV-movie is worth seeing.

Goldengirl (1979)… Susan Anton, Curt Jurgens, Robert Culp, Leslie Caron, Harry Guardino, Jessica Walter. A beautiful woman is transformed into a robot in order to star in the Olympics.

Crossbar (1979)… Sara Botsford, Brent Carver, Kim Cattrall, John Ireland, Jan Muszynski, Kate Reid, Sean Sullivan, Murray Westgate. From imdb.com: The story of an Olympic high jumper, played by Brent Carver, who loses his leg and yet doggedly persists in his pursuit of athletic glory. Canadian TV-movie.

Dawn (1979)… Bronwyn Mackay-Payne. The story of Australian three-time Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Dawn Fraser.

* Chariots of Fire (1981)… Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nigel Havers, Nick Farrell, Alice Krige, Cheryl Campbell, Ian Holm, John Gielgud, Lindsay Anderson. Oscar winning film based on the true story of two runners – a Scottish missionary and a Jewish student – competing in the 1924 Olympics. Outstanding character study. Oscars for Best Picture, script, score and costumes.

Miracle on Ice (1981)… Karl Malden, Andrew Stevens, Steve Guttenberg, Jerry Hauser, Jessica Walter. TV-movie about the U.S. hockey team's gold medal victory at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. Average story but enjoyable hockey scenes. Malden plays Coach Herb Brooks convincingly.

Personal Best (1982)… Mariel Hemingway, Scott Glenn, Patrice Donnelly, Kenny Moore, Jim Moody, Larry Pennell. Hemingway gives a sterling performance as a lesbian training for the 1980 Olympics. Not for all tastes but the sensitive script is well written.

Running Brave (1983)… Robby Benson, Pat Hingle, Claudia Cron, Jeff McCracken, August Schellenberg, Graham Greene. Real life story of Billy Mills who left the Oglala Sioux reservation to surprisingly win a gold medal in the 10,000 meter run at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

* The Jesse Owens Story (1984)… Dorian Harewood, George Stanford Brown, Debbi Morgan, Tom Bosley, LeVar Burton, Ronny Cox, Greg Morris, Ben Vereen, George Kennedy. TV-biopic of Jesse Owens who won four gold medals in the 1936 Berlin games over Hitler's super athletes.

Nadia (1984)… Talia Balsam, Jonathan Banks, Joe Bennett, Simone Blue, Johann Carlo, Conchata Ferrell, Carrie Snodgrass. TV-movie of young Romanian gymnast Nadia Comanecci who captivated the world in the 1976 Olympics. Gymnastic scenes are inspiring but rest of flick is just so-so.

The First Olympics: Athens 1896 (1984) … Hunt Block, David Ogden Stiers, David Caruso, Alex Hyde-White, Benedict Taylor, Nicos Ziagos, Honor Blackman, Gayle Hunnicutt, Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers, Louis Jourdan, Angela Lansbury. Pretty good account of the founding of the modern Olympics, the creation of the American team and the first trials.

Going for the Gold (1985)… Anthony Edwards, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dennis Weaver, Jean-Marc Barr, Don MacKay, Wayne Northrop, Deborah Van Valkenburgh. The true story of the first U.S. men's skiing gold medal winner Bill Johnson who got into trouble with the law and almost lost his 1984 Gold Medal. TV-movie.

Spiker (1986)… Michael Parks, Patrick Houser, Stephen W. Burns, Kristi Ferrell, Christopher Allport, Ken Michelman, Jo McDonnell, Natasha Shneider. College athletes try out for the U.S. Olympic volleyball team.

16 Days of Glory (1986)… Entertaining documentary about the 1984 Olympic games.

Sword of Gideon (1986)… Stephen Bauer, Michael York, Rod Steiger, Colleen Dewhurst, Robert Joy, Laurent Malet, Lino Ventura, Leslie Hope. Decent cable-movie about an anti-terrorist team that is assigned to avenge the Munich Olympic murder of Israeli athletes.

American Anthem (1986)… Mitch Gaylord, Janet Jones, Michelle Phillips, R.J.Wiliams, Michael Pataki, Patrice Donnelly. A talented gymnast has family problems that hold back his career. Gaylord is a real Olympic gymnast.

King of the Olympics (1988)… David Selby, Sybil Maas, Renιe Soutendijk, Kristoffer Tabori, Jason Taylor. TV-movie on the life of Avery Brundage, a long-time supporter for amateurism in the Olympics. Former president of the American Olympic Association, the International Olympic Committee and helped start the Pan-American games. From the Avery Brundadge collection: At the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Brundage was elected to the International Olympic Committee. He rose quickly in the organization's hierarchy to become an Executive Board member, and hence, a vice-president in 1945. In 1952, following the Helsinki Games, Brundage replaced Sweden's Sigfrid Edstrφm as IOC president. During his presidency he faced all of the issues besetting the Modern Olympic Movement. Eligibility, commercialism, nationalism, politics, giganticism, doping, and a good many more, Brundage met them all with a consistent and unyielding approach. There was no room for compromise in his Olympic credo. It was either "his way" or "the highway," so to speak.

The Four Minute Mile (1988)… Richard Huw, Nique Needles, Adrian Rawlins, John Philbin, Michael York. Partially fictionalized account of the events leading up to Roger Bannister’s breaking the four-minute mile.

Blades of Courage (1988)… Tom Butler, Rosemary Dunsmore, Colm Feore, Christianne Hirt, Stuart Hughes, Cec Linder, Lynn Nightingale, Shelley-Lynn Owens. TV-movie about Olympic skating.

Ice Pawn (1989)… Paul Cross, Dan Haggerty, Robert Budaska, Chris Thomas. An Olympic skating hopeful is exploited for financial gain.

The Cutting Edge (1992)… D.B. Sweeney, Moira Kelly, Roy Dotrice, Terry O'Quinn. Injured Olympic hockey star meets Olympic ice skater hopeful and decides to help her win a gold medal in paired figure skating at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. Unique story idea works, as does the stars chemistry with each other. Some good skating scenes too.

Cool Runnings (1993)… Leon, Doug E. Doug, John Candy, Rawle R. Lewis, Malik Yoba, Raymond J. Barry. Disney movie about the Jamaican bobsled team in the Winter Olympics. Based on a true story about the team who had never even seen snow. Great for the kids.

Alex (1993)… Lauren Jackson, Chris Haywood, Josh Picker, Cathy Godbold, Elizabeth Hawthorne, Bruce Phillips, May Lloyd, Patrick Smith. New Zealand teen female swimmer trains for the 1960 Rome Olympics while still in high school. She also studies piano and ballet and deals with the death of her boyfriend.

Prefontaine (1997)… Jared Leo, R. Lee Ermey, Ed O'Neill, Amy Locane, Lindsay Crouse, Laurell Holloman, Brecklin Meyer, Brian McGovern, Kurtwood Smith, Peter Anthony Jacobs. Well-acted bio of the famed runner but better done in Without Limits.

Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story (1997)… Mario Lopez, Michael Murphy. Greg Louganis overcomes hard times to become one of the world's top Olympic divers. Actual footage used: Louganis diving at the Olympiads, 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal, the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles and the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. TV movie.

Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (1997)… Aimee Walker, Tracy Nicole Kerestes, Dee Fisher, Nike Doukas, Lily Knight, John Ashton, Linda Hart, Jim Metzler, Swoosie Kurtz, Philip Casnoff, Courtney Peldon. A young gymnast and aspiring Olympian train hard which places a lot of pressure on their stamina and emotional well-being.

Perfect Body (1997)… Amy Jo Johnson, Brett Cullen, Wendie Malick, Ray Baker, Tara Boger, Ron Melendez, Julie Patzwald, Cathy Rigby. A young gymnast starves herself for her coach while trying to make the Olympics. TV-movie.

* Without Limits (1998)… Billy Crudup, Donald Sutherland, Monica Potter. Biography of Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine who tragically died at the age of 24 in an auto accident. The film centers on his relationship with his coach at Oregon State and his disappointing fourth-place finish in the 5,000-meter event at the '72 Munich games. Robert Towne also directed Personal Best, reviewed above.

Endurance (1999)… The story of Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie (playing himself) who wins the gold medal for the men's 10,000-meter race in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

* One Day in September (1999)… Documentary of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics. Oscar winner. From imdb: Besides footage taken at the time, we see interviews with the surviving terrorist, Jamal Al Gashey, and various officials detailing exactly how the police, lacking an anti-terrorist squad and turning down help from the Israelis, botched the operation.

* Miracle (2004)… Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson. The true story of Team USA Hockey team coach Herb Brooks, who shaped up a mediocre bunch of college kids to upset the heavily favored Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympic Games. Most of the players were chosen on their skating ability rather than their acting experience. Al Michaels appears as himself.

Hitler’s Pawn: The Margaret Lambert Story (2004)… Documentary of Margaret Lambert, a German athlete who wasn't allowed to compete at the 1936 Olympics because of her Jewish beliefs.

* Munich (2005)… Eric Bana, Daniel Craig. Tagline: The world was watching in 1972 as 11 Israeli athletes were murdered at the Munich Olympics. This is the story of what happened next. From imdb.com: During the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, eleven Israeli athletes are taken hostage and murdered by a Palestinian terrorist group known as Black September. In retaliation, the Israeli government recruits a group of Mossad agents to track down and execute those responsible for the attack.

Four Minutes (2005)… Jamie Maclachlan, Christopher Plummer, Shaun Smythe. The story of British runner Roger Bannister who was the first to break the four minute mile mark. That took place on 6 May 1954 during a meet between British AAA and Oxford University in Oxford.

The Cutting Edge: Going for the Gold (2006)… From imdb.com Jackie Dorsey is the daughter of 1992 Winter Olympics Gold medalists Kate Moseley and Doug Dorsey. An injury threatens her Olympic dream until she meets Alex Harrison as her new skating partner. Christy Romano, Ross Thomas, Scott Thompson Baker. 1994 Oksana Baiul, Olympic Figure Skating Champion, has a cameo.

Blades of Glory (2007)… Will Farrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer, William Fichtner, Craig T. Nelson, Romany Malco. Two rival Olympic ice skaters, who are stripped of their gold medals and banned from men's single competition, try to get their names cleared.

The Cutting Edge: Chasing the Dream (2008)… Matt Lanter, Francia Raisa, Sarah Gordon. Zack Conroy's figure skating partner Celeste Mercier is disabled in a training accident, so he takes on a temporary partner to go on to the national championship.

Asterisk at the Olympic Games (2008)… Gerard Dipardieu, Clovis Cornillac, Benoit Poelvoord, From imdb.com: Astιrix and Obιlix compete at the Olympics in order to help their friend Lovesix marry Princess Irina. Brutus also tries to win the game with his own team and get rid of his father Julius Caesar.

Glickman (2013)… Portrait of Marty Glickman who went from the 1936 Olympics to a Hall-of-Fame broadcasting career. He was a world class sprinter, a star football player at Syracuse, and then started his 53 years as a sports announcer, mostly in New York for the Knicks, Giants and Jets. He was also the voice of the Yonkers Raceway for 12 years. The film also delves into some of the prejudices and anti-Semitism he faced throughout his life.

* Race (2016)… Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Eli Goree. The true story of track and field hero Jesse Owens. He dominated the 1936 Olympics against Adolf Hitler's best athletes in Germany, while battling racial tensions at home and abroad.  

Eddie the Eagle (2016)… Taron Edgerton, Hugh Jackman, Tom Costello. The true story of Eddie Edwards, the British ski jumper who surprised the world at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. He became the first skier since 1929 to represent Great Britain, finishing last in the 70 m and 90 m events with a never-say-die attitude. He became the British ski jumping record holder, ninth in amateur speed skiing and a stunt jumping world record holder.

 

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