The Sublime Visual Storytelling of “Hoosiers”

06Jun12

I’m watching “Hoosiers” for the 600th time in my life, partly for script, but mostly because it’s awesome. And I realized it has one of the most sublime show-don’t-tell moments I’ve seen in a movie. About 45 minutes in, Coach Dale (Gene Hackman) goes to visit Shooter (Dennis Hopper) who is the town basketball expert and town drunk. Coach Dale asks him to be his assistant coach, provided he shaves, wears a suit and is sober. Shooter bristles. “What’s my drinking got to do with basketball?” Dale, as always, sticks to his guns, and Shooter asks him to leave. He feels insulted. We leave the scene with Shooter, alone with his bottle, hanging his head.

The next scene is another game, and during a time-out pep talk, who should appear in the gym — shaved, wearing a suit and sober — but Wilbur “Shooter” Flatch.

The movie presented the question in one scene and then SHOWED US the answer with the next. It wasn’t flashy. It was just provided. And shown.

What’s more is that neither scene does more than is required of it. The first game Shooter assistant coaches isn’t his BIG GAME or anything. We don’t even see if Hickory wins. This gives focus to the most important aspect of that scene.

Like most things in “Hoosiers” outside of the kiss between Hackman and Barbara Hershey, it’s beautiful.

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