ST Louisans! Tonight We Dine -- At Cunetto's (Blog)
Category: Misc./General Career News | Posted by: DaisyMay
Article Date: February 17, 2008 | Publication: Musings From the Hinterland | Author: R. Sherman
Publication/Article Link:Musings From the Hinterland
I've been extraordinarily busy of late, and as a result, I needed a "feel good" movie fix. Blame the close-out bin at Barnes & Noble for the recent purchase and screening last night of The Miracle Match, starring Gerard Butler of 300 fame, as Frank Borghi, the 1950 U.S. World Cup soccer team's goal keeper. (Hence the title to this post.) The film traces the formation of the 1950 United States team from its origins in the Italian semi-pro teams of the St. Louis "Hill" neighborhood to a remarkable upset of the English, 1-0, captained by the justly famous Stanley Mortensen, during pool play.
As sports movies go, especially those which are based on historical events, this one follows the predictable, "group of scrappy misfits overcomes odds to shock the establishment" formula.
It works. In an especially moving scene, an American Air Corps general in Brazil hands out the team uniforms before their match with England. In doing so, he calls each man forward and reads their World War II military rank and commendations -- none above the rank of sergeant and most with medals for wounds or valor during combat. The soccer scenes are realistic, perhaps because the producers recruited local St. Louis soccer players as extras. Much of the movie was filmed on "The Hill" and as a result, there is an authenticity about the scenes, that tends to be lacking on sound stages. (St. Ambrose Church allowed the interior to be filmed during a mass, with the parish priest, playing himself -- very cool.)
A few minor quibbles: The movie doesn't really explain why, the worthies of U.S. soccer went to St. Louis to find a World Cup Team. The truth is, even until the late sixties and early seventies, nobody played little league American football here. Soccer was the winter sport for kids. Summer was baseball. Winter was soccer. End of story.
Second, although the majority of the St. Louis players on the 1950 team came from the Hill, the neighboring Irish neighborhood of Dogtown was also represented, most notably by Harry Keough, legendary soccer coach for St. Louis University.
Finally, Patrick Stewart appears in the movie as the narrator and insists upon calling people from St. Louis, "St. Louise-ians." Trust me on this. No one here ever says that. It's "St. Louisans."
Bottom Line, I give The Miracle Match a solid "B." It's worth a rental if you're in the mood for a decent sports flick.
*Cunetto's is one the legion of decent Italian eateries on the Hill and in St. Louis for that matter. Gratuitous Tourist Advice: If one visits St. Louis, take a cab and one dead cat to The Hill. Stand on the street and twirl the cat around your head a couple of times and then let it fly. Where it lands, have a very enjoyable dinner.