I don’t usually put much stock in the opinions of writers who use words like “hurly-burly” and “codswallop.” But some clueless declarations just beg to be disputed. Yesterday, an article about sports movies by Frank Keating in Britain’s The Guardian newspaper had the nerve not just to take several bone-headed swipes at Martin Scorsese’ 1980 boxing masterpiece Raging Bull, but the writer also went on to declare that Chariots of Fire is the greatest sports movie ever made. To borrow one of Keating’s stuffy phrases, Codswallop! Or to translate it to Americanese: Dude, you’re high!
First of all, Chariots of Fire is an absurd pick. Not to mention that it smacks a little too hard of someone who’s rooting for the home-team. If you’ve never seen the 1981 Best Picture winner, it chronicles the true story of a group of British runners on the 1924 Olympics squad. The most memorable scenes in it involve a bunch of pasty guys running on the beach to the Muzak of Vangelis. Although it never should have won the Oscar — it beat out Raiders of the Lost Ark, Reds, On Golden Pond, and Atlantic City, for the record — Chariots is a fine movie. But fine movies don’t belong at the top of any list, especially lists that also include Raging Bull.
Keating slags on Scorsese’s film, calling it a “flagrantly ketchup-soaked biopic of Jake LaMotta” that is “less about boxing than about a psycho-misfit wife beater’s rages and jealousies.” He goes on to say that Raging Bull isn’t even the best boxing film. He prefers Rocky and Somebody Up There Likes Me. Oooo-kay. Am I just overreacting, or is this mountebank from across the pond just plain nuts?