"Hoosiers" takes the tale of one small-town team and transforms it into an unforgettable story of determination and teamwork. How much do you know about this famous basketball film?
For more than 150 years, the word "Hoosiers" has been embraced by Indiana natives as an all-encompassing term for locals. No one has a definitive story for the word's origins or even its exact meaning, but it is often used with pride.
The film definitely falls into the category of "80s classics." It was released in 1986 to great fanfare.
Hackman plays Norman Dale, a character who is driven to succeed but has many personal failings that have cost him greatly in life.
Dale's violent nature took hold of him, and he struck one of his college players. The incident blacklisted him from coaching major teams and left him as the head coach of a small high school squad.
The story is inspired (loosely) by Milan High School, which in 1954 became the smallest single-class team ever to win the Indiana state basketball championship. The school's entire enrollment was only about 160 students.
Dale decides to close practices to the public. In a small town where people loved to attend practices, his decision ignited a furious response.
Dennis Hopper, ever the loose cannon, plays Shooter Fletch, the former star athlete turned town drunk. His insights help Norman Dale assemble Hickory into a functioning team.
The first cut of "Hoosiers" was nearly three hours long, and the studio refused to release it to theaters in such a long format. It was eventually trimmed to 114 minutes and sacrificed much of the film's love story.
Dale is an emotionally unstable man who continues to struggle with his temper. In lashing out at the referees, he finds himself ejected from multiple games.
Hopper looked drunk but he wasn't. Just before the scene, he spun quickly in circles to make himself dizzy, and the resulting effect really did make him seem intoxicated.
David Anspaugh was the movie's director. He also has credits for productions such as "Rudy" and "Fresh Horses."
Hackman was less than awed by Anspaugh, who had never before directed a Hollywood feature. He spent many scenes just trying to get under the director's skin.
Hackman's performance is so definitive that it's hard to see anyone else as Norman Dale. But Jack Nicholson was actually the first choice. Scheduling conflicts meant that he couldn't accept the role.
Hopper had just given up drinking in real life. He was reluctant to jump into a movie in which his character had serious substance abuse problems.
The movie's budget weighed in at around $6 million, and it made plenty of money by grossing nearly $30 million at box offices. It's a popular movie on DVD and streaming, too.
Seven of the eight boys were from Indiana. Their genuine Hooser appeal added a dose of realism to the movie's story.
Hackman was notoriously unstable on set, and he was convinced that the movie was going to bomb. He told Hopper that their careers in acting were over.
Norman implements a "four-pass" rule. The players are supposed to pass the ball at least four times before anyone shoots. The young players roll their eyes at Norman's dictatorial approach.
Bobby Knight is the volatile man who became famous for his red-faced tirades at Indiana. The movie's director attended Indiana and was very familiar with Knight's angry ways.
Fleener wants nothing to do with Norman and wants him to stay away from Jimmy Chitwood, the town's best player, who is emotionally troubled.
Norman respects Myra's passion for Jimmy's well-being and decides to leave the boy alone. In the end, Myra encourages Jimmy to join the team, and the effects are immediate.
Hopper, with his careening, unstable performance as Shooter, was nominated for best actor in a supporting role. He didn't win.
Norman knew Shooter would have to step up sometime, not just for the team, but for himself. Norman purposely gets ejected, forcing Shooter to coach the rest of the game, which Hickory won.
The film shot on location in Indiana. A town named Knightstown stepped into the role of Hickory, and the gym where many scenes were shot still stands.
The film made money and is considered to be one of the best sports flicks ever made. It was nominated for best soundtrack ... but didn't win.
Even after repeated public pleas, the producers couldn’t persuade people to serve as extras in the grandstands. They finally had to set up a convoluted scheme involving games between actual high school teams to get enough people to show up and cheer.
Valainis couldn't even make his own high school team, but he gained huge fame by making the shot of a lifetime in "Hoosiers." The movie turned out to be his only real big-screen performance.
Hackman was sure the movie was going to be terrible, so he insisted on seeing it before redoing some of his lines. In the end, he was floored by how well the movie came together.
The title game was in fact shot in the same building that witnessed the real-life, shocking victory by Milan High School. It is Butler University's Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Milan High School beat Muncie Central in a defensive battle, 32 to 30. Just as in the movie, Milan's star player had a terrible game but hit the game-winning jumper as time expired.