Something to Cheer About
NEW YORK -- The recent controversial remarks of a certain disgraced media personality have given "Something to Cheer About" an unfortunate timeliness. Telling the story of the famed 1955 Crispus Attucks High School Tigers, the first all-black high school basketball team to ever win a state championship, Betsy Blankenbaker's uplifting documentary will be of interest to more than just sports fans. The film, which recently opened at New York's Quad Cinema, seems a natural for a Hollywood adaptation.
Composed mainly of archival footage and extensive interviews with the surviving players and various witnesses to their accomplishments, the film details the rise of the basketball team from the segregated Indiana school and the inevitable obstacles they faced because of the racism of white officials, etc. Coached by Ray Crowe and featuring such players as future NBA great Oscar Robertson (one of the film's producers) and Hallie Bryant (who went on to play for the Harlem Globetrotters), the team electrified the state with their dynamic style of playing. They routinely played to more than 10,000 fans per game, a rate of attendance that more than a few of today's professional teams would envy.
The film, which thankfully doesn't wear out its welcome with a scant running time of 64 minutes, is fairly prosaic stylistically. But the admittedly rough-hewn footage of the games is thrilling, and the pride and self-respect instilled in the players by their success is still evident today.