The Popcorn Stand: Hopefully ‘Battle of the Sexes’ rings true

I’m always wary of movies that are so-called “true stories,” especially when it comes to films based on historic events and people from the sports world. I’m always too judgmental. But I normally do know what actually happened, so I do expect the movie to resemble at least in part what actually happened.

So most sports movies are extremely disappointing to me when I watch them. Exceptions are “Rudy” and “McFarland USA” (which I’ve written about before). Even those movies do take considerable license with what actually happened, but at least the spirit of what happened is conveyed.

So now I’m wondering about how another so-called true sports movie is going to treat the actual events when “Battle of the Sexes” is released this month. The movie is supposed to depict arguably one of the most socially significant sporting events of the 20th century, an exhibition tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

At 30 years old, Billie Jean King was the world’s best female tennis player at the time. Bobby Riggs was an accomplished male tennis player in his own right during his time, but in 1973 he was 25 years King’s elder at 55.

He still challenged King to a match, boasting he would have no problem beating King. This match came during the height of the women’s movement and King was and has always been a leader of that movement while Riggs played the role (and I emphasize he played the role) of the male chauvinist pig.

As an 8-year-old kid at the time, I didn’t have a total understanding of what was going on, but was fascinated with the match, which King won in straight sets, by the way.

So I’m looking forward to re-living that historic moment in this upcoming movie. At least I hope I’m going to re-live that moment through the movie as it actually happened.

— Charles Whisnand


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