World Cup players look forward to movie premiere

Category: The Game of Their Lives News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: March 22, 2005 | Publication: Associated Press | Author: BETSY TAYLOR
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ST. LOUIS - A little of Hollywood's glow is expected to shine in this city when "The Game of Their Lives" - the movie that tells the true story of a 1950 World Cup upset - has its area premiere here April 17.

The movie recounts the story of the U.S. soccer team, which included a group of five players in the starting line-up from the historically Italian neighborhood in St. Louis known as The Hill.

The scrappy underdog team didn't win the Cup, but pulled a startling victory over the English team when the two nations squared off in Brazil.

Locations in St. Louis provided backdrops for several scenes, from the Soldan High School athletic field to the Casa Loma Ballroom. And with more than 2,000 St. Louisans used as extras in the film, interest in the premiere is expected to be high, said Jerry Jones, director of the Missouri Film Commission.

As a result, the commission expects to offer some tickets for sale to the public in addition to invitations to the World Cup players and others who made the movie a reality, Jones said. The premiere is expected to run on two screens at the AMC Esquire 7 theater in Clayton, a suburb of St. Louis.

"The Game of Their Lives" then will open in limited markets including St. Louis on April 22.

Two of the 1950 World Cup players who grew up on The Hill - Frank Borghi and Gino Pariani - said they were excited about the film, but a little anxious as well. They haven't seen the movie, so they don't truly know how they'll be presented in it.

"I hope it's good," Pariani said. "I'm telling you my kids have all been asking me about it."

Tickets should be in demand - both men said their wives are looking forward to the event, and each has seven children. Borghi said his Tuesday night bocce club and residents on The Hill have asked about the film, shot in St. Louis in 2003.

Borghi's character is played by Gerard Butler in the movie, who most recently starred as the Phantom in the big screen version of "The Phantom of the Opera."

"The guys will kid me, you know. He's a nice looking guy," Borghi said. "The Hill is kind of excited for it."

Pariani is portrayed by Louis Mandylor, who was Nick Portokalos in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." There's no word yet on whether the movie's stars will attend, but Jones said they will be invited.

For the real-life soccer stars, interest in their World Cup days remains, though they noted they played at a different time in sports, when many of the guys held down 40-hour-a-week jobs and practice for the international competition was brief.

Pariani, now 77, used to play inside right forward. He recalled when his soccer practice was held around 7 p.m., just a couple nights a week. "We'd go somewhere with a little bit of light, a little bit of park," he said.

At 79, Borghi said his goaltending soccer days - not to mention the years he was a minor league baseball player - are behind him, though he still plays golf.

The movie was directed by David Anspaugh and written by Angelo Pizzo, who collaborated on the sports-themed films "Hoosiers" and "Rudy."