No matter the quality of the film or its box office success, Gene Hackman has been one of the most consistently interesting actors since 1969's Bonnie and Clyde. In the decidedly straightforward Hoosiers, he could have played his role as written and gotten away with a cliched characterization. As usual, though, he brings a genuine human complexity to his single-minded basketball coach with something to hide. It's somewhat similar to one of Hackman's greatest roles, Harry Caul in The Conversation: both men are fish out of water unless surrounded by what they know, whether sound equipment or basketballs. Hackman keeps the film's other elements in the realm of believability. The "unknown" segment of the cast -- the townspeople and the team -- are also remarkably natural, and they bring an important authenticity to the setting. The David-and-Goliath formula is overused in American films, and Hoosiers walks a fine line of calculated sentimentality -- a line that director David Anspaugh and writer Angelo Pizzo would cross in their next effort, the football film Rudy. Dennis Hopper received an Oscar nomination for his supporting role, which many wags quipped was as much in recognition of his corrosive work that same year in Blue Velvet as it was for Hoosiers.