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. This is the only book that gives a true picture of the character of John Wooden and the influence of his assistant, Jerry Norman, whose contributions Wooden  ignored and tried to bury.

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. The players tell their stories in their own words.

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information. Also available on Kindle.

The Love Punch (3/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 94 minutes.

OK for children.

This movie is a stunner. Emma Thompson is one of the more gifted women in film, a terrific actress and a fine writer. While Pierce Brosnan has been in some horrors (his performance in the ghastly conversion of Momma Mia (2008) to the screen stands out as a real stinker, although many didn’t notice it because Meryl Streep outstunk him as the singing dancing lead), he has also exhibited some talent when it came to light comedy and romance, like The Matador (2004) and Love is All You Need (2013). At the 49 minute mark, Emma asks Pierce, “Do you think we’re doing the right thing?” That’s the question she should have asked after first reading the script.

So with them in what writer/director Joel Tompkins thinks of as a caper film farce à la The Pink Panther (1963) with romcom elements, this promised to be a gem. Even though the first scene is a clever homage to Brosnan’s stint as James Bond, what it turns out to be is an inexplicably terrible film. After five minutes I turned to my guest and asked if she liked it. She responded, “yes,” and asked if I did and I said “no.” Forty five minutes later I asked her if she still liked it and she said, “no.”

One reason is that it is so appallingly implausible. The basis of the film, that Pierce and Emma are going to steal a $10 million diamond from the man who stole their company in order to make everything right with all the employees and themselves, is absurd. And the way they go about it is equally ludicrous.

While farce is, by definition, absurd, it takes talent to make it funny instead of stupid. I’ve referred in the past to my affection for films like director Alan Dwan’s Getting Gertie’s Garter (1945) which can stand as a blueprint on how to make such a movie and make it funny. Tompkins claims that this is his first “French film.” Alas, he needs to go back to the drawing board because this doesn’t approach the subtlety that the French often give to a film like this.

Worse, the chemistry between Thompson and Brosnan, who play spouses divorced from one another thinking maybe they should try again, is non-existent.

The only things about this movie that don’t fail dismally are the production values and the cinematography (Jérôme Almeras) of the Parisian and French Riviera locations. But those few minutes don’t make up for the squirming and watch-checking caused by the other 89.

May 16, 2014