|The Game of Their Lives|
|Directed by||David Anspaugh|
|Produced by|| Howard Baldwin |
Ginger T. Perkins
|Written by|| Angelo Pizzo |
Based on the book by Geoffrey Douglas
|Starring|| Gerard Butler |
Zachery Ty Bryan
|Music by||William Ross|
|Cinematography||Johnny E. Jensen|
|Edited by||Ian Crafford|
Bud S. Smith
M. Scott Smith
|Distributed by||IFC Films|
|Box office||$388,998 (Worldwide)|
The Game of Their Lives (released on DVD as The Miracle Match) is a 2005 American drama film directed by David Anspaugh. The screenplay by Angelo Pizzo is based on the 1996 book of the same title by Geoffrey Douglas.
The film is based on the true story of the 1950 U.S. soccer team which, against all odds, beat England 1–0 in the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil during the 1950 FIFA World Cup. The story is about the family traditions and passions that shaped the players who made up this team of underdogs. One group of teammates were from The Hill neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri. Another group came from the Corky Row district of Fall River, Massachusetts.
In September 1996, Douglas' book was published. In November 1996, the film rights to it were purchased by producer Peter Newman. Newman was unable to secure financing for production, however, and finally sold the rights to Philip Anschutz, one of the founders of Major League Soccer. Anschutz wanted to generate interest in the fledgling soccer league, and hired Pizzo to write the screenplay and Anspaugh to direct.
Anspaugh was initially hesitant, thinking that the success of his previous sports films ( Hoosiers and Rudy ) would be difficult to top and that a film about soccer would not be warmly received in the U.S. Coincidentally, the same day that Anspaugh was approached about the film, Pizzo was discussing the 1950 match with Indiana Hoosiers men's soccer coach Jerry Yeagley.
Casting began in September 2002. The actors were chosen mostly for their soccer skills. Scotsman Gerard Butler, for example, grew up playing the game, although he portrayed a goalkeeper in the film. Wes Bentley was the only major exception. American international soccer player Eric Wynalda served as a technical consultant, and another American player, John Harkes, appeared in the film.
The film only had an initial budget of $13 million, which meant that they were unable to film many scenes about the players' back-stories.Principal photography took place in St. Louis, Missouri, and several of the surviving members of the U.S. 1950 World Cup frequently visited the set. Gino Pariani's son appeared in a bit role.
The film was distributed by IFC Films and was released on April 22, 2005. It only grossed $388,998 worldwide, with nearly 97% of that coming from the U.S.
The Game of Their Lives received mostly negative reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 26% based on reviews from 35 critics, and reports an average rating of 4.6 out of 10.At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 47% based on 13 reviews.
Roger Ebert awarded the film one-and-a-half out of four stars and said, "This is a sluggish and dutiful film that plays more like a eulogy than an adventure."
Joseph Edouard Gaetjens was a Haitian soccer player who played for the United States national team in the 1950 FIFA World Cup, scoring the winning goal in the 1–0 upset of England. He also played one match for Haiti in a World Cup qualifier against Mexico.
The United States defeated England 1–0 on 29 June 1950, in a group match of the 1950 FIFA World Cup at Estádio Independência in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. The result is notable as one of the biggest upsets in the competition's history.
David Anspaugh is an American television and film director.
Frank Borghi was an American soccer player who earned nine caps at goalkeeper for the national team. He played in the team's famous 1–0 victory against England in the 1950 FIFA World Cup.
Walter Alfred Bahr was an American professional soccer player, considered one of the greatest ever in his country. He was the long-time captain of the U.S. national team and played in the 1950 FIFA World Cup when the U.S. defeated England 1–0. Bahr's three sons Casey, Chris, and Matt, all played professional soccer in the defunct North American Soccer League. Casey and Chris also played for the U.S. Olympic team, and Chris and Matt later became placekickers in the National Football League, each earning two Super Bowl rings.
Edward Joseph McIlvenny was a Scottish footballer player, who most notably captained the United States national team in their 1–0 upset of England in the 1950 FIFA World Cup.
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Virginio Peter Pariani was an American soccer striker. He earned 5 caps and scored 1 goal for the United States men's national soccer team, and played on the 1950 FIFA World Cup team, including the U.S. team's historic 1–0 victory over England. He was also a member of the U.S. Olympic team in London in 1948. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1976.
Ruben Michael Mendoza was an American soccer forward who was a dominant player in the St. Louis leagues during the 1950s and 1960s. He earned four caps with the U.S. national team and was a member of the 1952 U.S. Olympic, 1956 U.S. Olympic and 1960 U.S. Olympic teams.
The 1949 NAFC Championship was the second edition of the association football championship for the North American Football Confederation.
Lori Christine Chalupny is a former American soccer defender who last played for the Chicago Red Stars and the United States women's national soccer team. She is a gold medalist from 2008 Beijing Olympics, and a bronze medalist in 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup hosted by China. She was also on the roster of the United States national soccer team for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. She is the current head woman's soccer coach of Maryville University in St. Louis.
William “Ty” Keough is a former U.S. soccer player and coach who has served as a soccer broadcaster for several networks. He earned eightcaps with the U.S. national team in 1979 and 1980. He was a member of the U.S. Olympic soccer team which qualified for the 1980 Summer Olympics. However, he did not attend the tournament as the U.S. boycotted those games.
St. Louis Simpkins-Ford(also known as Simpkins) was a U.S. amateur soccer team based in St. Louis, Missouri from 1947 to 1956. It won three league championships and the 1948 and 1950 National Challenge Cups, and lost in the finals of the 1954 National Amateur Cup. Five members of the U.S. team at the 1950 FIFA World Cup came from Simpkins.
Alex "Alec" McNab was a Scottish-American soccer player and coach. He began his career in Scotland before moving to the United States. In the US, he won six consecutive National Challenge Cups with teams from both the American Soccer League and St. Louis Soccer League. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005.
Angelo Pizzo is an American screenwriter and film producer, usually working on films based on a true story, and usually about athletics. He is best known for Hoosiers and Rudy.
Florence Dent Archibald McSkimming was an American sportswriter for several St. Louis newspapers. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1951.
A Time for Champions is a 2009 documentary film produced by Bud Greenspan's Cappy Productions and St. Louis PBS member station KETC. It chronicles the Saint Louis University soccer dynasty of the 1960s and 1970s. It includes interviews with 1950 FIFA World Cup team members Frank Borghi, Harry Keough, and Walter Bahr, as well as Bob Costas and St. Louis native Yogi Berra.
Soccer in St. Louis dates back to 1882 and includes more than a century's worth of closely followed pro, college, select and prep soccer teams in St. Louis, Missouri, collectively among the nation's richest municipal soccer heritages.