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Hoosiers (1986)

An Indiana high school basketball team triumphs in a classic underdog story based on a real-life incident (and aren’t they always).

A cool reception greets former army man Norman Dale when he arrives in Hickory to coach the high-school basketball team. Distrusted by the players and the community, Dale’s gruelling methods and volatile attitude soon make him enemies.

hoosiers8However, being a man of principle and stubborn with it, he refuses to compromise, whether the players win or lose.

Set in 1951, it’s a finely drawn study of postwar American mores, evocatively scored by Jerry Goldsmith and sharply directed by first-timer David Anspaugh, a TV director whose credits include Hill Street Blues and St Elsewhere.

Gene Hackman is the coach who turns his boys into disciplined players, while Dennis Hopper (pictured) barely broke a sweat in his Oscar-nominated performance as the alcoholic father of one of the boys (method acting?).

People from Indiana are known as “Hoosiers”, which was this film’s US title – it was renamed Best Shot for UK audiences.

hoosiers5

Norman Dale
Gene Hackman
Myra Fleener
Barbara Hershey
Shooter
Dennis Hopper
Cletus Summers
Sheb Wooley
Opal Fleener
Fern Persons
Jimmy Chitwood
Maris Valainis
Whit
Brad Boyle
Rade
Steve Hollar
Buddy
Brad Long
Everett
David Neidorf
Merle
Kent Poole
Ollie
Wade Schenck
George
Chelcie Ross
Rollin
Robert Swan
Rooster
Michael O’Guinne
Sheriff Finley
John Robert Thompson

Director
David Anspaugh