Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oscar Loves The Olympics

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been kind to films with Olympic themes.

Oscar smiled four times on one of my all-time favorite films, "Chariots of Fire" (to paraphrase Second City Television/SCTV's 1981 spoof, "More than a soundtrack"). Two major releases of the last 10 years also spotlighted the 1972 Games, with a best documentary Oscar to "One Day In September" (outstanding -- and the entire film is available on YouTube) and nominations for Steven Spielberg's "Munich" (which, by the way, is a high-budget REMAKE of a lesser known 1980s TV film on the same topic, "Sword of Gideon." ).

Other summer Olympic films of note, though not close to Oscar, include "Jim Thorpe - All American" and "Tokyo Olympiad." The 1936 feature documentary "Olympia" by Leni Riefenstahl, did not qualify for a gold statue, but it did win an honorary gold medal from the International Olympic Committee, according to the director's official website.

By my count, more feature films are out there regarding the Winter Olympics (though Oscar has been icy to these titles): "Cool Runnings," "Ice Castles," (OK, this one WAS nominated for Best Song ... you know the song, right?) "The Cutting Edge," and even "Blades of Glory" each had five-ring connections (some with better results than others).

It came as no surprise when someone told me that even James Bond has an Olympic connection. In "Goldfinger" that derby-clad Odd Job was played by Olympic Silver Medalist Harold Takata.
And who could forget Roger Moore's Olympic venues chase scene in "For Your Eyes Only" filmed at Cortina D'Ampezzo, host of the 1956 Winter Olympics?

Should be interesting to see how often these titles (summer Games films in particular) show up on cable during Beijing, or whether PBS replays "16 Days of Glory" by Bud Greenspan on their programming.

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