Glory Road: Film ReviewBy: Kam Williams
I had my suspicions about
Rather than create a scene, I decided to wait patiently for the picture’s release. And now, after finally seeing the movie, I think I understand the reason for the whole charade. The studio was banking on the “pump-and-dump” marketing strategy whereby it hypes a flick with strategic advertising to get as many suckers in the seats that first weekend before word spreads via reviews and the grapevine.
Via commercials and an ESPN special which have heavily-saturated the airwaves, Glory Road has been carefully promoted as a period piece which recounts the 1966 NCAA Basketball Championship Game upset of the heavily-favored, lily-white, Kentucky by lowly Texas Western, an unheralded underdog with five black starters. The movie is based on the book of the same name by Don Haskins, the coach who took Texas Western to the top that glorious season.
But is it okay to run roughshod over history, as long as you’re making a feel-good period flick? I don’t think so, and
Truth be told, he didn’t even integrate his own team, as it already had three African-Americans players when he took the job. In fact, Texas Western had been recruiting black kids since the mid-Fifties. So, an early scene in which an angry college administrator utters the N-word in disgust while confronting Haskins over the “new” ethnic make-up of his team makes no sense.
Just as ludicrous is how the new coach is shown as going from heading a girls’ high school team to winning the NCAA Championship in less than a year. In reality, he was hired in 1961, which means it took him five years to turn the team around.
Equally as unlikely is the fashion in which his players are presented as insulting stereotypes whose only hope in life rested with being plucked from the ghetto and whipped into shape by their great white savior. For instance, one of them, Willie Cager (Damaine Radcliff) basically boasts about being a nitwit, putting himself and his people down by informing his geology professor, “I’m a black man. I don’t do rocks.” Prefacing this remark by referring to his skin color makes a not-so-subtle inference that African-Americans are anti-intellectual.
The caring coach comes to the rescue, and puts in a call to Willie’s mother (Valeri Ross), a sassy “Mammy” who soon arrives on campus and proceeds to sit behind her son in class to make sure he pays attention. The other black ballplayers have their own embarrassing flaws, too. This one’s a Tequila-swilling alcoholic, that one’s a womanizer who boasts about having 50 or 60 girlfriends, etcetera.
If these characterizations were true, I doubt that Texas Western would have ever achieved its feat which, by the way, was not the greatest upset in the history of NCAA basketball, as claimed, here. Both TW and
In closing, let me mention another one of my pet peeves, namely, how
Had I cared enough to sit through
Poor (0 stars)
Rated PG for profanity, ethnic slurs, graphically-depicted, bias-crime violence, sexual situations and mature themes.
Running time: 106 minutes
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