Jim Thorpe - All American

Jim Thorpe - All American

Director: Michael Curtiz

Cast: Burt Lancaster, Charles Bickford, Steve Cochran

     
 

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Burt Lancaster stars as Jim Thorpe, the Native American sports whiz whom many consider the greatest athlete of the 20th century. We first see Thorpe as a child on the reservation, highly resistant to the notion of going to school. He proves to be an excellent student, eventually attending the all-Indian college in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Still, Thorpe doesn't feel

Overview

Burt Lancaster stars as Jim Thorpe, the Native American sports whiz whom many consider the greatest athlete of the 20th century. We first see Thorpe as a child on the reservation, highly resistant to the notion of going to school. He proves to be an excellent student, eventually attending the all-Indian college in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Still, Thorpe doesn't feel like mixing much with the other students until coach Charles Bickford encourages the lad to go out for the track team. Thorpe finds that he can be more "articulate" as an athlete than as a scholar, and soon excels at all school sports. He also marries his college sweetheart, non-Indian Phyllis Thaxter. After graduation, Thorpe tries to get a coaching job, but is frozen out by the white establishment. Determined to make a name for himself, he enters the 1912 Olympics at Stockholm, where he earns more gold medals than anyone else and is praised as the world's greatest athlete by the King of Sweden. Unfortunately, the fact that Thorpe briefly played semi-professional baseball while attending Carlisle costs him his amateur status--and every one of his medals. Things go from bad to worse for Thorpe after this; his son dies, his marriage disintegrates, and he crawls into a bottle. Thorpe has hit rock bottom when he is reunited with his old coach Bickford, who offers Jim a ticket to the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. It is the first small step on the road to regeneration for Jim Thorpe (alas, real life was not so kind; Thorpe died in near-poverty, and it was not until years after his death that his Olympic medals were restored). Jim Thorpe, All American was directed by Michael Curtiz, who previously had secured small acting roles for the real Thorpe in such films as Knute Rockne: All American (1940).

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Sports biopics tend to follow a fairly predictable route, and that's essentially the case with Jim Thorpe -- All American. In such cases, it's usually not the outline of the plot that engages; it's the manner in which the story is told, and it is here that Thorpe goes for its gold. The film is fortunate to have at its helm Michael Curtiz, a distinguished director who when at his best knew how to spin a story like no one else. Curtiz is in top form here, and his work, while not as showy as in some of his other films, is solid. He gives the film drive and power, fully aware that at times the story is a bit familiar but treating it as if it were being told for the first time. He's aided greatly by a screenplay that takes advantage of each dramatic opportunity presented it and plays it for all it's worth, and it also helps that the life upon which the film is based truly did have a great deal of drama inherent in it. Burt Lancaster, while not Native American, is otherwise perfectly cast as Thorpe; no other actor of his generation had the genuine athleticism that the part requires. Lancaster gets fine support from the rest of the cast, but it's a picture that rests upon his shoulders, and it's a good thing his were brawny enough to carry it off without a hitch.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/23/2007
UPC:
0085391177500
Original Release:
1951
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:45:00
Sales rank:
10,017

Special Features

Vintage Joe McDoakes comedy short So You Want to Be a Paper Hanger; Classic cartoon Hare We Go; Sports Movies trailer gallery; Subtitles: English & Français (Main feature. Bonus material/trailer may not be subtitled)

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Burt Lancaster Jim Thorpe
Charles Bickford Glenn S. "Pop" Warner
Steve Cochran Peter Allendine
Phyllis Thaxter Margaret Miller
Dick Wesson Ed Guyac
Jack Big Head Little Boy
Nestor Paiva Hiram Thorpe
Suni Warcloud Wally Denny
Hubie Kerns Tom Ashenbrunner
Jimmy Moss Jim Thorpe, Jr.
Billy Gray Young Jim Thorpe
Edwin Max Football Manager
Alfonso Mejia Louis Tewanema

Technical Credits
Michael Curtiz Director
Milo Anderson Costumes/Costume Designer
Gordon Bau Makeup
Folmar Blangsted Editor
Edward Carrere Art Director
Frank Davis Screenwriter
Vincent X. Flaherty Original Story
Everett Freeman Producer,Screenwriter
Oliver S. Garretson Sound/Sound Designer
Ernest Haller Cinematographer
Douglas Morrow Screenwriter
Max Steiner Score Composer
Jim Thorpe Score Composer
William Wallace Art Director,Set Decoration/Design

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