Those who know me well will eventually discover that I have a slight Olympics obsession. Starting July 23, the world will celebrate the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, at least probably. You can tell these will be some weird ones because of the “2020” still in the name, despite it being 2021. I guess they already made the T-shirts, so they have to stick with it. Anyway, regardless of the actual existence of said Olympics, you can get ready with us in the week leading up the alleged Opening Ceremony by watching a week of Olympics-related films here at Movie Valhalla.
If you’ve done past Virtual Film Festivals with us, you know how this goes: we announce the schedule in advance, and you can watch the movies along with us or just hang out for a week of movies on the same general theme. The schedule for our Virtual Film Festival is set as follows:
7/16 – Cool Runnings (1993) – dir: Jon Turteltaub – Disney’s comedic take on the unlikely true story of the 1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team, with John Candy playing their coach.
7/17 – Animalympics (1980) – dir: Steven Lisberger – I am very excited to share with you all this super fun animated movie made to coincide with NBC’s coverage of the 1980 Olympics that America boycotted, which was never released on DVD domestically but is now available on streaming.
7/18 – One Day in September (1999) – dir: Kevin MacDonald – An Oscar-winning documentary telling the story of the terrorist attack on the 1972 Munich games that resulted in the deaths of several Israeli athletes.
7/19 – Jim Thorpe – All-American (1951) – dir: Michael Curtiz – Burt Lancaster stars in this biopic of a fascinating early Olympics figure, a Native American college football star who won several Golds at the 1912 Stockholm games but then had them taken away for playing semi-pro baseball, from the director of Casablanca.
7/20 – Downhill Racer (1969) – dir: Michael Ritchie – Robert Redford stars as an obsessive ski racer training for the Winter Olympics, whose biggest obstacle is his own psychology. Roger Ebert called it “the best movie ever made about sports” at the time.
7/21 – Olympia (1938) – dir: Leni Riefenstahl – Likely the first great film made about the Olympics, this epic two-part documentary about the 1936 Berlin games was unfortunately intended as Nazi propaganda. Riefenstahl’s films are still studied as examples of how a perfect understanding of film techniques can be turned toward evil ends.
7/22 – Chariots of Fire (1981) – dir: Hugh Hudson – A small British historical drama about two runners of different origins training for the 1924 Paris games, it became a cultural touchstone and won a Best Picture Oscar.