Hollywood doesn't make a lot of movies about the Olympics, but two such flicks opened this month. Both are based on actual Olympic athletes, though they tell much different stories about much different athletes.
"Race," which opened last weekend, is about inspiring four-time gold medalist Jesse Owens and the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. "Eddie the Eagle," opening this weekend, is about zero-medalist ski jumper Eddie Edwards who reached fame by finishing dead last at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Yet both inspire.
With those two films -- plus last year's "Foxcatcher" and "Unbroken," and "The Boys in the Boat" in development about an American crew team and the Berlin Olympics -- is Hollywood going to make movies about the Olympics as it relentlessly does about boxing? We can always hope.
In the meantime, here's a look at notable Olympics-related movies, including the two most recent:
"Chariots of Fire": This splendid story of two runners -- one a Scottish missionary, the other Jewish -- at the 1924 Olympics won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1982, beating out "Reds" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." But its lasting mark is the stirring opening scene in which the athletes run on the beach to the Oscar-winning theme music by Vangelis. You cannot watch the scene and hear that music without wanting to get off the couch, put on a pair of shoes and run as if you're an actual Olympian (though you will need to really pump up the volume to your earbuds if you want to keep up with, say, current British distance runner Mo Farah).
"Miracle": What is often considered the greatest moment in American sports is lovingly captured here in this film about the U.S. hockey team's rousing upset over the Soviets at the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York. Kurt Russell does an excellent job playing coach Herb Brooks, and the whole movie will fire you up so much you'll be chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!"
"Race": The movie is a bit too long and gets sidetracked about German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, but Jesse Owen's saga still is a great and inspiring tale. And the scene where Owens walks into Berlin's Olympic Stadium is so visually dazzling that it ranks up there with any of his actual gold-medal finishes.
"Cool Runnings": "Eddie the Eagle" actually will be the second movie to come out of the 1988 Winter Games. The first was "Cool Runnings," the comedy with John Candy that is loosely based on the first Jamaican bobsled team. In addition to being fun, it's also so invigorating that a boxer at the U.S. boxing Olympic trials says he watches it to get fired up.
"Blades of Glory": While the competition is technically the fictional World Winter Sports Games, the event's logo is clearly a play on the Olympic rings. And this movie about two men competing in pairs figure skating is so funny -- when is Will Ferrell not? -- that it simply has to make this Olympic team of movies.
"Without Limits" and "Prefontaine": These two movies about the legendary runner Steve Prefontaine came out in consecutive years, 1997 and 1998. Both are good, with Billy Crudup portraying Pre in "Without Limits" and Jared Leto in "Prefontaine," but "Without Limits" wins at the tape. Donald Sutherland, in particular, is entertaining as Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman inventing the waffle-sole running shoe.
"Eddie the Eagle": This engaging new movie has some early scenes that has the audience laughing and a rousing scene at the end that has them cheering. Which is pretty amazing for someone who finished last at the Olympics. But while Eddie wasn't faster, higher and stronger, this film is definitely funnier than many others (though it does take some liberties with the true story).
"Downhill Racer": Robert Redford stars in the drama as skier David Chappellet, who winds up winning a gold medal in what critic Roger Ebert called "the best movie ever made about sports." Bear in mind, Ebert wrote that in 1969, long before any great sports movies hit the screen.
"Foxcatcher": The story of the murder of Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz (played by Mark Ruffalo) by John du Pont (played by Steve Carell), this movie is not the happiest film you'll ever see on the big screen, but it did receive five Oscar nominations.
"Unbroken": Unlike the film version of her book "Seabiscuit," this movie isn't quite up to the level of Lauren Hillenbrand's tremendous bestseller. Still, runner Luis Zamperini and his World War II survival is an amazing story.