Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25 years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach. Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps said, "I used this book as an inspiration for the biggest win of my career when we ended UCLA's all-time 88-game winning streak in 1974."

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. Click the Book to read the players telling their stories in their own words. This is the book that UCLA Athletic Director J.D. Morgan tried to ban.

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information.


Rescue Dawn (9/10)

by Tony Medley

This is a movie not to be missed. Even though itís directed by Werner Herzog, it is one of the best POW-escape films you will ever want to see. Herzog was responsible for the deplorable Grizzly Man (2005), one of the most blatantly dishonest films I have ever seen.

In 1997, Herzog made a documentary, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, about a little boy born and raised in the chaos of Nazi Germany and its aftermath, who wanted to be a pilot. Taken by the story, Herzog wrote and directed this true story of the little boy, Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale), a German-American fighter pilot who was shot down over Laos on a secret mission at the dawn of American involvement in the Vietnam War.

Bale gives a captivating performance as a cocky fighter pilot. In order to be a fighter pilot, one needs extraordinary confidence, and Bale exudes it in this film. He never shows a trace of doubt or fear. Heís shot down on his first mission in a propeller-driven fighter, captured, and imprisoned in the jungle with six fellow captives.

In making this film, Dengler took off the gloves and lets us see what he really thought of his fellow prisoners. He immediately becomes their leader. Heís a guy who knows how to do things, like making a lock pick out of a nail, and the other prisoners immediately look up to him. One, Duane (Steve Zahn, in a terrific performance) becomes his buddy. But another, Gene (Jeremy Davies, in a performance that equals Zahnís), is reluctant to become embroiled in Dieterís escape schemes.

The film is too long, at 129 minutes. More than an hour is spent in the prison camp, and thatís too much. A lot of that could be cut. But it does show the monotony of what it was like to be imprisoned in the middle of nowhere with no knowledge of whatís going on.

The film really picks up when they escape and Dieter and Duane try to make it through the jungle to the river that they think will take them to Thailand. There should have been much more of the ordeals they faced in the jungle, and less of the prison camp. But even though I did find the prison camp scenes a little too long, my attention never flagged. Herzog keeps the pace going.

There was no media screening for this of which I was aware. When we exited the theater we were approached by a team from MGM, asking us to fill out a questionnaire in order to convince exhibitors to give this a wider screening. We both filled it out, as did many others who were in the theater, and the theater was about 80% filled for our showing.

This is a well-made, well-acted, exciting, entertaining film that should interest everyone, including women, even though thereís only a couple of women in the film, and then only for a few moments. Despite Baleís exceptional performance, this is the kind of film that rests on the director to keep up the pace and make what seems superhuman believable, even if much of what we see is, actually, true. Herzog passes muster with flying colors.

Finally, since Herzogís forte is documentary film-making, the cinematography is spectacular. The countryside where Dieter is imprisoned and through which he tries to make his escape, is gorgeous. Itís like watching a travelogue. Donít miss this film.

July 7, 2007

 

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