Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mormon Movie Review: ***^John Baker's Last Race

John Baker's Last Race (1976, BYU) is a biographical presentation of the life of John Baker.  He was a track and cross and country star at the University of New Mexico and WAC champion in the mile run as well as cross country.  He had aspirations for the Olympics, and started training for the 1972 Olympics.  While training he took employment at Aspen Elementary teach physical education.  He also started a women's AAU track and field team.  He continues to train for the Olympics, but cannot get his times down.  He goes to see the doctor and is diagnosed with incurable cancer, and given six months to live.  He contemplates suicide, but in the end, determines to do his best until the end.  The movie portrays how he discovers a young girl, who has difficulty fitting in because of arthritis in her legs.  Treatment has been successful, but she resists physical therapy because of the pain.  Baker shows her how to overcome this with making funny faces to herself to forget the pain.  She eventually does this, and becomes a star.
Baker lead his AAU team to the national finals, and wants to go with them to the championship.  He has an episode at school where he loses control, screaming at the children.  He then collapses in pain.  He cancer ruptured, making him basically bed ridden.  However he makes the effort to go back to school to apologize for his behavior.  He doesn't make it to the finals, passing away a couple days before, a year and a half after he was diagnosed.  However the girls take the title in his name.
This is a very motivational and uplifting story.  To enjoy the show you have to get past the music, which is sort of corny.  I understand it is available through BYU communications.  I have an old VCR copy from Church Distribution.

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