Movies of Olympic Proportion

I suppose the most famous movie set against the Olympics was Chariots of Fire from 1981. It is about two Englishmen, one Jewish, one Christian, who are running in the 1924 Olympic games. The story studies their motivations and the sacrifices they are willing to make for victory. It’s a beautiful film and a touching drama.

But what if you want something Olympic, but a bit lighter? There are options.

Cool Runnings, from 1993, is a family-friendly comedy, about the first Jamaican bobsled team, trying to make it to the winter Olympics. It’s based on a true story, and with the late John Candy headlining the show, how can anyone not love it?

My favorite movie with an Olympic backdrop, though, is 1966’s Walk, Don’t Run, starring Cary Grant and Jim Hutton.

Filmed on location in Japan, this light-hearted romantic comedy features Grant as a businessman on a trip to Tokyo, unable to find a place to stay because of the crowds from the games. He rents a room from a beautiful young English woman, played by Samantha Eggar, and then invites (without his land-lady’s approval) a young American athlete to join them in the tiny apartment.

No, this movie will never win any awards—not even a bronze—but it’s full of fun. Grant hands the torch of the romantic lead off to Hutton and plays match-maker. There’s a wonderful scene of chaos in a police station, and a cute keep-your-eye-on-the-pants sequence that today’s films have long-forgotten.

What I love most about this tale is that throughout the film, Hutton’s character keeps his sporting event a secret from everyone until he competes. When it’s revealed at the climax, the audience has a collective, “Oh, of course,” moment. I recommend this one if you enjoy a classic romantic comedy with just the tiniest smattering of sports.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.

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