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Hoosiers (SE)
DVD disk
03.03.2005 By: Indiana Sev
Hoosiers (SE) order
David Anspaugh

Gene Hackman
Barbara Hershey
Dennis Hopper


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The year: 1951. The town: Hickory, Indiana. The coach: Norman Dale. HOOSIERS chronicles the true life events of what took place when a basketball coach (Hackman) with a checkered past was given a second chance with a high school team from a small town obsessed with basketball and took them all the way to the state finals, against all odds…
Is this the best basketball movie ever? The question itself is ridiculous because HOOSIERS easily has that title. A more appropriate question would be: Is this the best sports movie ever? And even though I’m more partial to FIELD OF DREAMS, HOOSIERS makes a very strong argument for itself as it hits all the right marks when it comes to what it takes to make the perfect sports movie. Director David Anspaugh, a native of Indiana himself (making him a Hoosier), balances the exciting play of the basketball games with just the right mix of drama, giving us a taste of the natural romance building between Hackman and Hershey as well as exploring the relationship between one of the players coming to terms with his on-again, off-again alcoholic father, played by Dennis Hopper, in his only Oscar-nominated role. And it comes as no surprise that Jerry Goldsmith’s stirring and inspirational score got the second nod from the Academy. There are a couple of brilliantly directed sequences in the film when the Hickory Huskers are on a winning streak where the combination of the fast-paced game play and Goldsmith’s memorable score make it so you not only root for these boys to keep it going, but can’t help falling in love with the team and what they’re able to do. I defy you to resist humming the theme long after the movie is over. It’s impossible…

Another element Anspaugh captures so vividly is the beautiful rural scenery surrounding the farmlands and fields of the Mid-West. This movie is not only beautiful to experience, but beautiful to look at as well. The film also explores the passion and obsession of a small town that puts all their hopes into the local high school basketball team, much like how Texans are fanatical for their high school football. The setting of the film, the high caliber of acting, the innocence of that time in the Heartland of America and the underdog element of HOOSIERS all make it, unquestionably, one of the most entertaining, inspiring and memorable movies, sports-related or not, of the 1980s. It also probably solidified Hackman as an actor that can perfectly balance sweetness and toughness and make it look so goddamn easy in the process. If you haven’t seen HOOSIERS yet, you’re missing out on a truly magical movie.
Audio Commentary by Director David Anspaugh and Writer Angelo Pizzo: Both David and Angelo are from Indiana and discuss how when they were growing up, the inspirational true story on which this movie is based upon, always came up in high school… and beyond. That team was from Milan, Indiana and they won the championship in 1954, as opposed to ’52 like in this movie. You can expect all sorts of nuggets like that from this very lively and fascinating commentary track. Both men genuinely enjoy looking back on this very special movie and you’ll enjoy listening to them doing it.

Hoosier History: The Truth Behind the Legend (29 minutes): Not only do you get the actual archival footage from the final in 1954 that pitted Milan vs. Muncie Central but also the actual players on that championship team speak about that historical experience in this feature. The main point being made in this feature is that basketball is like a religion in Indiana and it always has been. Writer/producer Pizzo and director Anspaugh also discuss how they, and the film, came together, including the early casting of Jack Nicholson as coach Norman Dale. There is all sorts of insight from others on this feature as well; Pacers coach Rick Carlisle and player Reggie Miller chime in, as well as Bill Simmons, a commentator from ESPN. Of course, Dennis Hopper, Gene Hackman and many of the actors who were the players in the movie discuss the film as well; in present day. This is not a documentary revived from the late eighties or anything, all these guys were brought in special for this Special Edition of HOOSIERS. I can’t recommend this feature enough; it’s amazing.

Deleted Scenes with Introduction by Director and Writer: There are 13 scenes in all amounting in up to 30 minutes of cut footage. The introductions by Anspaugh and Pizzo are video introductions that play just before the deleted scenes. These are all worth seeing if you end up loving the movie as much as I did but one of the better ones is “Buddy Asks To Come Back” in which we get the back story on how Buddy, who was kicked off the team at the beginning of the movie miraculously appears on the team a little later on. This beautifully shot and acted scene puts that puzzle together. All great scenes here, actually…

Milan vs. Muncie 1954 Indiana High School Championship Game (40 minutes): How freakin’ cool is this!? You get the complete 4 quarters of the actual state final that inspired this movie, including the final shot of the game that won it. The last 18 seconds of the game in HOOSIERS are exactly what happened in the actual game. For this feature alone, the extras on this DVD deserve 5/5. Kudos to the producers of this DVD for including this wonderful piece of Indiana basketball history to the DVD set.

Photo Gallery

Theatrical Trailer
Indiana is a basketball state and HOOSIERS pays great tribute to that fact. Buy it. If you can’t afford to, put it first on your list of things to buy when you do save up enough scratch. This is one of those movies that you will automatically suggest to friends of yours, whether they’re movie buffs or not. The incredible extras just give you one more reason to do so…
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