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.

Thumbnails Jun 17

by Tony Medley

The Dinner (8/10): Vaguely reminiscent of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966), this is a psychological thriller about two couples who meet for dinner to discuss their serious problems involving a horrific deed done by their children. Surrounding their conversations is the laughable presentation of each course, explained in ostentatiously excruciating detail by their head waiter, Michael Chernus. In addition to ‘Woolf, the film also reminded me of last year’s Eye in the Sky in the way it handles a controversial problem, attacking it from all sides with each side presenting its case. Even though bolstered by a smart script and a wonderful score, director Oren Moverman chickened out with an unsatisfying ending, unlike the aforementioned ‘Eye.

Chuck (8/10) Although unaware of it at the time, Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber) was the model for Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky” series. Wepner found out about it later and this is his story. Schreiber’s strong appearance is ably abetted by the performance of Elisabeth Moss, who plays his long–suffering wife Phyllis. Another positive is that the fights that are re-created herein do not have the phony audio enhancements that make every blow sound as though an atomic bomb has gone off.

A Woman’s Life (7/10): Adapted from the novel “Une Vie” by Guy de Maupassant this tells the tale of tortured love embedded in the restraining marriage and family codes in 19th century Normandy. The film follows Judith Chemla, in a sensitive performance, through approximately 30 years of her life. It is appropriately slow with lots of shots of people thinking. Not for everyone, the French know how to make films that show life to be enormously depressing and unrewarding, and this is a classic example.  In French.

The Wizard of Lies (7/10): Robert De Niro gives a good performance as the fiendish Bernie Madoff who ruined the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people and charities with his Ponzi scheme. But this film, which concentrates on the time after he confessed, seems unusually lenient on him by giving only passing mention of the devastating damage this wicked man did to his victims. Michelle Pfeiffer, an amazing lookalike for his wife Ruth, is the one who gives the memorable performance. On HBO.

Churchill (2/10): This long, slow, boring, talky film directed by Jonathan Teplizky based on an original screenplay by Alex von Tunzelmann who is identified as a “British historian,” posits that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Brian Cox) was in a knockdown drag out battle with Gen. Dwight Eisenhower (John Slattery) in opposition to Eisenhower’s plan to invade Europe at Normandy in June 1944. I can find no authority for this. It is chock full of speculations about Churchill that seem to have little or no basis in fact. Consistent therewith, Teplizky and Tunzelmann readily admit that they made things up out of whole cloth. There seems no reason to do this other than to tarnish Churchill with things that did not occur. The film is also burdened by a maudlin score and an ending that seems to go on almost forever.

Baywatch (2/10): “Baywatch” without babes with bouncing breasts is an uninteresting bust. The only bouncing breasts visible in this implausible film belong to Dwayne Johnson. 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2/10): Thomas Malory, who first published his Le Morte D'Arthur in 1485 bringing together the 14th Century French legends comprising the story, would not recognize this tale that more resembles a Marvel Comics action fantasy than the Arthurian legend. From a dismal start, it doesn’t improve. It’s easy to see why this film has taken so long to hit the theaters, as it’s rumored that the original cut of well over 2½ hours has been trimmed 20% over the last year. But it’s still so jumbled and incoherent that it’s little more than regurgitated nonsense.

Recommended Reading: “My Husband’s Wife” by Jane Corry, a quirky thriller by a first time author.