The true story of an upset victory that helped change the sport of golf forever provides the basis for this period drama. Francis Ouimet (played by Shia LaBeouf) was born in 1893 to a working-class family in Massachusetts, and grew up fascinated by golf. However, at that time golf was considered a pastime of the wealthy and privileged, and British and Scottish players dominated the professional game. Ouimet's familial home was near the Brookline, MA, Country Club, and over the stern objections of his father, Francis got a job there as a caddy. Honing his skill in his spare time, Francis displayed a tremendous natural talent for the game and an understanding of its strategies, and 1913 he became the first amateur to play in the U.S. Open, held at the Brookline Country Club. Ouimet's presence was considered little more than a novelty at the time; Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane), a British champion with six tournament victories under his belt, was considered a shoo-in to win, with Ted Ray (Stephen Marcus) his only serious competition. However, Vardon, a fellow working-class boy who had overcome tuberculosis to become Britain's premier professional golfer, had more in common with Ouimet than anyone expected, and the tournament unexpectedly became a hard-fought competition between an established star and a promising unknown. Directed by Bill Paxton in his second directorial effort, The Greatest Game Ever Played also stars Elias Koteas as Francis' father, Josh Flitter as the ten-year-old boy who becomes Francis' caddy, and Peyton List as Sarah Wallis, Francis' sweetheart.~Mark Deming
A view from the gallery: on the set of The Greatest Game Ever Played
Two legends and The Greatest Game
Feature film audio commentary: director Bill Paxton
Like all great sports movies, this film is about character as much as athletic prowess. It is the story of the 1913 U.S. Open, a time when golf was still considered a "gentleman's game" and when the entire Open was played in 2 days (36 holes each day, regardless of weather). The former caddy who lives across the street from the host golf course is pitted against the greatest English golfer of the day (and one of the best ever), who also comes from a commoner background.
As the match plays out, both demonstrate their superior playing skills and most especially, their strength of character. Even though only one of them can be the champion, there is no loser. They are both truly winners!