Can you change perfection?

Not with the movie Hoosiers

KNIGHTSTOWN — Can you change perfection? The answer is no you can’t, at least in my humble opinion.

The problem with expectations is rarely are they as fulfilling as We might have hoped.

That was my take on the new version of the movie Hoosiers, which was screened as a fund-raiser for the Hoosier Gym at the Hoosier Gym on Saturday night.

The extra time, which varied depending on who you listened to, was anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes longer than the original length of one hour and 57 minutes.

The writer of Hoosiers, Angelo Pizzo, was at Knightstown on Saturday and spoke about the problems that he and director David Anspaugh had with Orion.

“They hated the name and wanted to change it,” Pizzo told the crowd of about 700 people who paid a bargain price of $5 to view the version that Pizzo had originally envisioned. “They especially did not like it at 2 1/2 hours.

“We got it down to 1:57. …It was really, really, really painful for us to cut this last 30 minutes that you're going to see tonight, "for all the obvious reasons."

He said Orion had only one advance screening of Hoosiers.

“It was in Irvine, California,“ said Pizzo. “It got a 94% approval rating, the highest  in the history of Orion.

“That is when they decided to release it.”

The new version added back in all the deleted scenes from the 1986 film, the original director's cut.

Before the screening on Saturday, Pizzo said, "We reluctantly turned over a 1:57 minute cut and we thought it wasn't going to work.

“But luckily we were wrong. But this was the first picture for both David and myself.” 

Pizzo said the idea of a director’s cut happened about 15 years ago.

It was on the 20th anniversary of the release of the film, MGM asked Pizzo and Anspaugh to come up with a director's cut. "And we were very enthusiastic and very excited about that," he said.

But it was not as easy as it sounded. Hemdale Films was no longer in business and none of the deleted scenes were immediately available.

Luckily, a former film maker of Hemdale had the film in containers in his personal stash.

“But they were reels of old, scratched negatives,” Pizzo said.

He talked about trying to cut them back into the movie, which in 2005 would have cost an additional $100,000.

“That just wasn’t feasible,” said Pizzo. “The scenes needed to be color corrected. "They needed to be scored, adding Jerry Goldsmith's music behind them.”

On the 20th anniversary DVD, the deleted scenes were pulled out and put on a second DVD.

Pizzo did not think of another director’s cut until Hoosier Gym events coordinator Bob Garner contacted him. Pizzo said he was too busy to deal with it and told him, “You go take a whack at it.”

Hoosier Gym’s assistant events coordinator Zoey Hunsinger went to work and spliced and edited the movie that we saw on Saturday.

Pizzo told the crowd he hopes to release a new, Hollywood version of the movie shown Saturday so all the world can see "Hoosiers" as it was originally meant to be seen.

Admittedly, the new version did answer the question of how Buddy got back on the team. To be honest, I never thought of it as a big mystery.

Laura (Robling) Lee was a Hickory cheerleader, the daughter or granddaughter of Cletus. Virtually all of her speaking parts were cut out of the version released 35 years ago. They say it happens in Hollywood all the time.

The movie did show how a relationship developed between the characters of Myra Fleener and Norman Dale, played by Barbara Hershey and Gene Hackman.

They had a scene at the church where Hackman thanked Hershey for not reading the story she had found about his punching out his player while coaching the Ithaca Warriors, which led to him joining the Navy before coming to Hickory. 

There was a scene when the team was loading the bus before heading to Butler Fieldhouse for the championship game.

Hershey told Hackman that his fight and determination to keep his job at Hickory inspired her to go back to college for a year in Chicago.

They kissed for a second time in the movie.

One of the problems I had was with technology, and I know it could not be helped. The previously deleted scenes were dark and gave me an uneasy feeling that took me by surprise.

As I asked in the beginning, can you change perfection? 

The movie was loosely based on tiny Milan beating Muncie Central in the state finals in the 1950s. Some were upset there were no semi-state games in the movie like in the Indiana state tournament, then and now. 

That did not bother me as I thought the original movie Hoosiers to be nothing short of perfection.

Hoosiers, which was slow to catch on at the box office, is still acclaimed as the greatest sports movie of all time.

Garner said you can remove sports from that statement.

I think I was expecting to be wowed and that was probably my own fault. It was a great experience and a good excuse to wear my Hickory letter jacket.

But as my friend Andy Krull reminded me, that jacket was a gift from somebody I no longer consider to be a friend.

The best part was I got to spend the evening with Andy.

Just like our earlier excellent adventure at Seymour a couple of years ago when we went to watch IU recruit Romeo Langford play in the semi-state, this indeed was an adventure.

He drove from Kokomo and I from Sullivan. 

At my urging, we went early as the doors opened three hours before the movie started at 6 p.m.

When we figured out we did not have to arrive so early, other than for parking purposes, Andy had the line of the night.

“This was not like the premiere for Star Wars.”

But no other movie had the following lines that I can recite by heart.

"Say hello to Chester. Say goodbye to Chester."

"I know everything there is to know about the greatest game ever invented."

"The sun don't shine on the same dog's ass every day, but mister, you have not seen a ray of light since you have been here."

My late wife hated watching movies with me, especially movies like Hoosiers where I could recite almost every line by heart.

If Pizzo ever delivers on his promise, I would be the first one in line, even if Hoosiers is no Star Wars.

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