Good Running Movies

Monday, April 19, 2010 at 7:44 pm

This list of good running movies is presented just in time for the Boston Marathon, which is always held the third Monday in April. Started in 1897, it’s the world’s oldest annual marathon, and over 20,000 participants gather each year. Of course, not all of us can run in a marathon, which is why God invented good running movies. So while all those athletes are gulping down Gatorade and getting smoked by a Kenyan, you can turn up the air conditioning and drink another soda.

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If you’re really a fan of the Boston Marathon, be sure to take a look at these books available from Amazon. They’re ideal for the marathon fan in your life.

Chariots of Fire (1981) – In the 1924 Olympics, Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) runs in spite of anti-Semitism, and Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) runs to honor God. A fascinating portrait of two men driven to run by their own personal convictions, the film boasts an inspiring score and a supporting cast that includes Ian Holm, John Gielgud and Alice Krige. My favorite line of the film comes when Eric, a devout Scottish Christian, explains why he runs: “I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

Gallipoli (1981) – Directed by Peter Weir, this Aussie film tells the story of two runners (Mel Gibson and Mark Lee) who join the Australian Army during WWI and participate in the ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign. Emphasizing the bonds of friendship, the loss of innocence and the futility of war, Gallipoli is often considered the greatest Australian film ever made (yes, even higher than Crocodile Dundee).

Across the Tracks (1991) – Rick Schroder and Brad Pitt play estranged brothers in this indie film about forgiveness and overcoming adversity. Pitt plays Joe, the responsible brother looking to get a track scholarship to Stanford, and Schroder is Billy, the delinquent brother fresh out of reform school. The two initially clash but later bond over Billy’s newfound skills as a runner. This leads to a climactic race, with the two brothers competing for rival schools. Racing fans, and women around the world, should enjoy this one.

Prefontaine (1997) – Steve Prefontaine (Jared Leto) was a runner who helped the sport gain popularity in the 1970s. He died in a car crash at the age of 24, but his legend lives on through various books and films. This film looks at his life through the eyes of assistant coach Bill Dellinger (Ed O’Neill) and girlfriend Nancy Alleman (Amy Locane). R. Lee Ermey co-stars as coach Bill Bowerman and once again demonstrates his talent for portraying hardasses. On a side note: Steve Prefontaine won 78-percent of his races during his career (120 out of 153).

Without Limits (1998) – Produced by Tom Cruise, Without Limits deals with the relationship between Steve Prefontaine (Billy Crudup) and coach Bill Bowerman (Donald Sutherland). The film received strong reviews, but it flopped at the box office. Still, it’s an excellent companion piece to 1997’s Prefontaine. On an interesting side note, Cruise considered playing the lead himself until it was decided that he was too old.

Marathon (2005) – Not all films about running are American, as demonstrated by this entry from South Korea. Based on a true story, Cho-won (Jo Seung-woo) is an autistic young man who loves to run. Encouraged by his devoted mother and alcoholic coach, Cho-won sets out to finish a marathon in under three hours. As you might expect, Marathon is all kinds of inspirational.

Personal Best (1982) – As a group of female athletes try to qualify for the Olympic track-and-field team, this film captures their challenges on and off the track. Detailing the lesbian relationship between two of the athletes (Mariel Hemingway and real-life runner Patrice Donnelly), the film gets high marks for the realism of the characters. Scott Glenn co-stars as their coach. While it was a box office bomb, it still remains one of the few good running movies available.

Running (1979) – Michael Douglas stars as Michael Andropolis, a marathon runner who hopes to compete in the 1976 Olympics. However, unemployment and a failing marriage conspire to sap his will, and even his coach is hesitant to endorse him for the event. What happens next is a testament to the perseverance of the human spirit. Latter parts of this dramatic tale were used as inspiration for…

Run Fatboy Run (2007) – Five years after leaving his pregnant fiancee (Thandie Newton) at the altar, Dennis Doyle (Simon Pegg) tries to woo her away from her latest beau (Hank Azaria) by beating him in a marathon. Getting in shape for the race is half the battle, but he gets plenty of help from his eccentric pals (including Dylan Moran). This UK romantic comedy was directed by David Schwimmer of Friends fame.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) – A rebellious youth is sent to a boys’ reformatory in 1960’s England, and he soon enjoys certain privileges thanks to his skills as a long distance runner. But he chafes at being a puppet of the school’s Governor, and prepares to give the establishment the finger in his own unique way. During the film’s running sequences, flashbacks fill in the blanks on his earlier life.

All of these good running movies are available from Netflix You can even sign up for a free trial membership. We get a small commission for sending you their way, but it doesn’t affect your price at all. You may also find the following OGM links to be of interest:

This entry was posted on Monday, April 19th, 2010 at 7:44 pm and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Good Running Movies”

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November 5, 2010

jason thomas

Gallipoli was WW1 not WW2

November 5, 2010

Shane

I knew that, honest. Just a terrible typo. Thanks for catching it.

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