Wow. The last and only time I've seen this movie was when it came out in 1979. That year I was 6 years old and in the first grade at John Baker Elementary. I just finished watching this movie on cable just a few hours ago, and boy, did it bring back a lot of pleasant childhood memories.
I remember the cafeteria and those folding bench-tables and the garage door style door that lead to the kitchen and the old Hispanic lady that used to serve me cafeteria food. I remember the schedule for the different kinds of food served at the cafeteria and the lunch box that my mom would make for me and how she would leave me little notes in them with smiley faces, telling me how proud she was of me and how much she loved me. I also remember getting milk for a quarter, choosing between regular and chocolate.
I remember playing kickball in front of one of those large baseball fences you can see in the background of the playground. I used to play "Star Wars" with my friends, running around in between the barracks, making shooting sounds from our imaginary blasters. I even drank from the same water fountain they used in one of the scenes.
The school they portrayed for Ron Bellamy's school was actually Hoover Junior High, which shares the same campus with John Baker Elementary. The home where the Bakers lived in is in the Ridgecrest Neighborhood, which is one of the best neighborhoods in Nob Hill, one of my most favorite places in the world. I have been wanting to buy that house when it comes on the market for so long now. It's right by one of my favorite watering holes that I frequent.
The school where most of the track shots were filmed at were at the old Albuquerque University on Coors Blvd. on the west side of town. It is now Saint Pius X High School and has been for some time. Ironically, it is less than half a mile from where I currently live. I even attended UNM for a couple of years and my first dorm that I was going to live in is right near Johnson Field, which is also used in the movie.
Driving up to the top of the Sandia crest is always one of the best experience one can feel. Once you get to the top, the views from there are breathtaking and you feel that much closer to God.
There are so many things I can write about this movie that it would take a few chapters of bandwidth to do. So, in closing, I will just say this: I love this movie. It has a special place in my heart. Even though I've seen it only twice, it is a very well written and heart felt t.v. movie. It has a lot of charm, character and a great story. The acting is superb and I think Timothy Bottoms is one of the most underrated actors of all time.
One could easily dismiss this as another cheesy movie of the week, but I don't see it that way. This is a true story of one man and his fight for not only his survival, but for the children, school, city and sport that he loved. He lived his tragically short life with more passion than most people will in two lifetimes. And that is what this true story and indeed life itself is all about.