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  • Jim Thorpe: All American [VHS]
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Jim Thorpe: All American [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Burt Lancaster, Charles Bickford, Steve Cochran, Phyllis Thaxter, Dick Wesson
  • Directors: Michael Curtiz
  • Writers: Everett Freeman, Douglas Morrow, Frank Davis, Jim Thorpe, Russell Birdwell
  • Producers: Everett Freeman
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: April 1, 1992
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302344883
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #376,677 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

This reverential, well-crafted 1951 biopic starring the hulky Burt Lancaster as Native American Olympian Thorpe is hardly the definitive word on one of our greatest track stars, but it does remind us how unfair and demeaning it once was for athletes of color. Concentrating on Thorpe's track and football victories (he also excelled at boxing, swimming, and golf), director Michael Curtiz and screenwriters Douglas Morrow and Everett Freeman (working from Thorpe's autobiography) chart their hero's rise from reservation poverty to Carlisle College track star to 1912 Olympic decathlon/pentathlon winner. Thorpe was stripped of his medals when it was learned that he had taken a few bucks as a football player. Lancaster is even better at playing Thorpe in the depths of drunkenness and despair than in his jock heyday. Charles Bickford is Pop Warner, the legendary coach who encouraged Thorpe to go for the gold, and Phyllis Thaxter appears as the athlete's supportive wife. Thorpe, who served as technical adviser, died two years after this film was released. Thirty years later, the International Olympic Committee overturned the earlier ruling and returned Thorpe's medals to his family. "What does it mean now?" a bitter Lancaster was quoted as saying at the time. --Glenn Lovell

Customer Reviews

Two men that have molded my life and my choses in my life.
Stephen W. Spry
This is a true gem of a film and one of Hollywood's finest attempts at telling a life's story.
D'Artagnan
Burt was one of the greatest actors of our time and every movie he did was a classic.
EllytheK

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 27, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
Not to long ago an athlete was picked as the best(athlete)in our century...Mohammid Ali. He was a great fighter...but what else? How did this man become the greatest athlete of the century? "Whats wrong with this picture"? Jim Thorpe should have been named as the best as is appearent by his accomplishments in several sports. Did Ali win the decathalon or the Pentathalon...25 total events. Was Ali a champion football and baseball player? How can anyone who excels at only one sport be called the greatest of the century...whats wrong with this picture? The wrongs done Jim Thorpe have not been corrected with this kind of judgement. We have the sports writers to thank for this injustice.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Martin Asiner on June 1, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
JIM THORPE, ALL AMERICAN is based on the autobiography of the same name, and in the hands of director Michael Curtiz, Thorpe, as played by the athletic Burt Lancaster, comes across as a man beset by a multitude of demons. The film begins with Thorpe as a boy living on an Indian reservation. He runs constantly, almost as if he were trying to outrun the bitter dregs of an anti-Indian racism that he saw as dogging his heels for his entire life. He grows to maturity and attends the Carlisle Indian School on a track scholarship. Much of the film focuses on Thorpe's obvious athletic skills and as long as it does so, Lancaster manages to imbue his character with the pathos of a tragedy that would not disappear. One of the most memorable scenes in a film filled with them (not all of them pleasant) is the one in which he has just arrived as a freshman at Carlisle. He is dressed in his best clothes and shoes, and then suddenly,he is filled with the need to run. He does run, right over and through Carlisle's track team. The track coach looks at his assistant and tells him, "Find out who that is and bring him here." His first years at Carlisle show a relaxed Thorpe. He meets his future wife played by Phyllis Thaxter and excells at every sport of the school. Paradoxically,however, the more success that Thorpe achieves, the more is in unable to handle it. His reaction to fame is colored by his previous reaction to racism. He grows bitter and anti-social. He fails to understand that amateur athletics does not involve money nor does he see that his wife loves him and would continue to do so until his increasing world hate drowns out all else. Thorpe's anger at having his Olympic medals taken away simply justifies his own self-destruction.Read more ›
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By ixta_coyotl on May 23, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
This film certainly has limits: none of the performances are overwhelmingly good, there are too many white people playing natives, and the story sometimes borders on the formulaic. But with that said, do yourself a favor and see it.

Jim Thorpe - All American is a fascinating look at a period of American history (the early 20th century) that doesn't get enough coverage. Thorpe was born just before the death of the Old West (1887 or 88), was an All American college football player at the Carlisle Indian School, won gold medals in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, played Major League Baseball before WWI, was a founding presence as an all-star halfback in the early National Football League (and its first commissioner), and went on to a long career as a bit player in such Hollywood films as King Kong and White Heat. On the darker side, over half of his brothers and sisters died in childhood, he was an orphan before 18, his first son (Jim Junior) died at age 2 from pneumonia, he had poor financial habits, wasn't much of a team player, moved around incessantly, had problems with alcohol and tobacco, two wives left him, and he died in poverty.

Director Michael (Casablanca) Curtiz does a wonderful job of keeping the campy 50s to a minimum while moving Thorpe's whirlwind life forward on screen. The real strengths of the film (beyond the historical subject matter) are the wonderful nascent images of early sporting events: the college lettermen's sweaters, old track shoes, baseball uniforms, leather football helmets, etc. Lancaster was quite fit and looks the part of a young athlete very well. He is perhaps best when portraying Thorpe's dark decline; these scenes foreshadow De Niro in Scorsese's Raging Bull.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 4, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
_Jim Thorpe_ is nominally a story about a great athlete; it is more a complex, bittersweet portrayal of a man whose frustrated ambition threatens to tear him and his family apart. This movie underlines in bold strokes the damaging effects of racism, both external and internalized, and the fact that material success is no compensation for dignity and self-respect.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert E. Nylund on August 24, 2006
Format: DVD
The title "All-American" was rarely applied to one who truly was an American and was one of the greatest athletes of all time. Jim Thorpe was a Native American, often called an Indian because of Columbus' original mistake that the natives he encountered in the New World were residents of India, not an entirely new and unknown land. This remarkable 1951 film was one of the rare looks at a Native American who not only earned the title "All-American" but built a reputation as an outstanding athlete. The film makes it clear, too, that he was successful in every sport he tried, often amazing those who thought they knew him.

Early in the film we see a young Jim running away from school because he doesn't want to go the white man's school. The fact that he runs many miles to go back home, after his father had taken him to school in a horse-drawn wagon. His father then explains why school is important, particularly if Jim is ever to rise above a very lowly and disadvantaged life on the reservation in Oklahoma. Jim's father hopes that Jim will do more than he accomplished. Not only does Jim return to school, he eventually goes on to the famed Carlisle Indian School, a virtual college which achieved a very fine reputation both in academics and athletics. The famed "Pop" Warner, portrayed in the film by Charles Bickford, is shown producing some very fine teams and challenging the more reputable, established colleges and universities of his time.

"Pop" Warner becomes Jim's lifelong mentor. The film actually begins with the coach's tribute to Jim at a latter day banquet in honor of the amazing athlete.
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