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Shawn Dwyer

Five Classic Football Movies

By January 31, 2013

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Knute RockneWith the Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens coming up on Sunday, I thought it might be a good idea to look back at a few classic football movies. Surprisingly there haven't been all that many made by Hollywood, with only a few worth remembering as classics.

One of the best features future U.S. president Ronald Reagan, who delivered one of his greatest performances outside politics as George "Gipper" Gipp, an all-star player for Notre Dame whose tragic death prompts an inspirational speech from legendary coach, Knute Rockne, in the biopic Knute Rockne, All American (1940).

Another great biopic worth checking out is Jim Thorpe - All American (1951), which starred Burt Lancaster as the great Native American athlete who excelled on the track and football field, but saw his life spiral out of control after his Olympic medals were stripped. While given the Hollywood treatment - a happy ending versus his real-life tragedy - Jim Thorpe remains a good film buoyed by Lancaster's great performance.

North Dallas FortyIf you want something with a more counterculture edge, however, look no further than The Longest Yard (1974), starring Burt Reynolds as an ex-player turned convict compelled by a sadistic warden to organize a prisoner team to take on the guards.

Also worth seeing are Heaven Can Wait (1978), Warren Beatty's remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), which replaces a boxing championship with the Super Bowl, and North Dallas Forty (1979), starring Nick Nolte as a pill-popping wide receiver who bucks the authority of his coaches.

Movie posters for 'Knute Rockne, All American' (1940)/Warner Bros. and 'North Dallas Forty' (1979)/Paramount Pictures

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