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The Best City For Sports Films? How About Philly

We all know Rocky Balboa and his Philly toughness. However with the arrival of “Silver Linings Playbook,” the new comedy starring Bradley Cooper as the troubled son of a family that lives and dies with the Eagles, the “City of Brotherly Love” again becomes the centerpiece for films of all genres that surround sport.

From “Invincible” which starred Mark Wahlberg in the true story of the Eagles Vince Papale, to “The Wrestler,” Mickey Rourke’s great comeback movie about an aging pro wrestler, to “Warrior,” the well done MMA film from 2010 that starred Tom Hardy (pre Bain in “The Dark Knight Rises”) and Joel Edgerton as to battling brothers looking to turn their lives around, the hardscrabble city keeps becoming the perfect dramatic backdrop.

Need more, how about “Philadelphia,” the great drama for Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks which revolved in and around some Sixers games and the now departed Spectrum, or even the classic cult favorite “Best In Show,” about the behind the scenes look at the wacky world of shows written and directed by Christopher Guest for the Mayflower Dog Show in Philly.  There was also the 2007 film “Pride,” which told the story of Jim Ellis who started a swim team for African-American teens in the 1970s at the Philadelphia Department of Recreation and starred Terrence Howard. 

On the diamond, another underrated sports film, Stealing Home, starred Mark Harmon as a Phillies prospect gone awry, and has a great sequence with Harmon and co-star Harold Ramis hitting homers after breaking into Veteran’s Stadium. The characters, along with Jodie Foster, are all from the Philly burbs as well.

But why Philly? “Hey we are a gritty sports town with lots of drama on and off the field,” said Chris Lencheski, CEO of Philadelphia based Front Row Marketing, a division of Comcast which handles scores  of high level sponsorship sales internationally and also measures the value of branding in sports and entertainment properties. “It’s a city which everyone around the world kind of ‘gets,’ it’s not New York or Boston but it has its history and its integrity with such blue collar appeal, and we love to mix it up on the sports pages. You can’t create those type of backdrops artificially all the time. In Philly you have the characters and the settings, plain and simple and the drama is very real.”

The props for Philly fans will also keep coming (Cooper wears a DeSean Jackson jersey in “Silver Linings,” not a Donovan McNab one by the way), as current Flyer Scott Hartnell has a cameo in Judd Apatow’s new film “This Is 40,” the sequel to his hit “Knocked Up.” We also have the continuing drama of Andy Reid, but that’s another story.

However for the silver screen, Philly continues to rock.    The Rock and Mickey would be proud of what they helped forge.