Jump to content
drag it

Gable documentary on Flo

Recommended Posts

It's New Years Day, there is ice everywhere, it's a quarantine, and I don't like football much.  So here is a long boring post. 

The new/old Gable documentary is up on Flo (behind the paywall). https://www.flowrestling.org/collections/6839009-the-life-of-dan-gable?playing=6848834.  I don't think I've seen anyone comment on it here, so here's a thread starter for those interested.

Flo apparently bought this from HBO or someone, I guess it was originally aired 1999ish. 

The filmmakers got access during Gable's famous last year in 1997.  It's interesting because there is a book on that season where the author had the same access -- Zavoral's A Season on the Mat.

I liked the book, which I've read several times, a lot more.  Beyond the fact that a good book is better than a film version 90% of the time, I think the book is more for wrestling people, the film more for a general audience. 

On the latter point, one thing that I'll compliment the film for doing well is capture how Gable was unique among wrestlers in his appeal to the public.  They show tons of huge newspaper headlines on the front page and on the front page of the sports section.  They show him on national TV as THE attraction for the NCAAs/Wide World of Sports and Olympic coverage.  They show him on Dick Cavett.  Etc.  Beyond the obligatory John Irving interviews, they also show thoughtful explanations by Nancy Schultz and Al Franken talking about how almost all of the interest in wrestling is usually from wrestlers, and how Gable broke through that.

The film also did a nice job of vividly bringing out the role of Gable's murdered sister in his life, both before and after the crime, and informing his entire wrestling career.  The interviews with him on it drive home how deeply personal this was and how conflicted he was about the conversation he had with the killer that, with 100% hindsight, was a warning.  This has been covered before but I thought was done well here.

But I found the film mostly plodding.  It followed him in his last coaching season with his record setting team, with the adversity of his hip replacement in the middle of the season.  But it seemed like they spent more time on his competitive career than on his coaching.  They would show him coaching and then would cut in with flashbacks to lengthy tapes and descriptions of him competing which I thought were pretty clumsy and didn't really relate to the coaching tape they had just shown.  

I just don't think they used all this access and film they must have shot in nearly as productive way as they could have to demonstrate his coaching greatness.  The book nicely captured his skill and intelligence as a coach, and added a lot to the common belief that he just worked worked worked worked the athletes.  For instance, the book describes Gable navigating a very tricky complicated personal and medical issue with McIlravy, his father, and the team trainer, something that required some subtlety and nuance.  And the key coaching decision he makes during the year is a conscious change in the training schedule at the end to back off.  The film actually shows some tape of the result of this (the wrestlers wrapped in sheets and laying on the mats), but doesn’t let the viewer understand that this was part of a very significant strategic decision and that it went with a general downthrottling in the workout levels. 

His wrestlers are not drawn out at all as characters in the documentary.  I don’t think they interviewed any of the wrestlers on the team (I think only Penrith as a former wrestler), they don’t interview (or I think even identify) his assistant coaches, and barely even identify the wrestlers by name (only when Gable or a TV announcer says their names), etc. 

Also there is just a lot of clumsy stuff in there.  They talk about Gable cutting weight as a sophomore I think, to 95, but don’t really elaborate if this was a career-long issue for him.  They show the wrestlers in the sauna but don’t really document any of their tough cuts (the book has some incredible scenes with Gable and Tom Brands and some of the wrestlers, particularly one with Mena). 

It’s still well worth watching.  There isn’t much mainstream stuff out there on wrestling.  Gable of course is always compelling.  And they do have some memorable behind the scenes film.  For instance, Joe Williams gassing out and then restarting a buddy carry up the Carver steps.  And a compelling (and hilarious) scene where an exhausted McIlravy starts shouting at Gable when he makes them run an extra sprint because someone lagged on the last one, and rather than shout back, Gable deftly deflects him and says, in a faux helpless voice something like, What can I do?  He’s part of the team.  There is also some very sharp footage mat level at the NCAAs, including a terrific shot of the sea of a crowd going absolutely bonkers as Whitmer celebrates his semifinal win over Teague Moore, as well as the Brands coaching (with Tom having to calm Terry down in a foreshadowing of later years) and the pain in Gable's eyes and body language after a tough loss.

Beyond the comparison with the book, it’s also interesting to compare this to the ESPN The Season documentary from the early 2000s, which of course is on youtube and I thought was more engrossing.  For instance, in watching Gable in 1997 in the Flo film with Zalesky in the background as assistant, you can see how Zalesky as coach in The Season struggled to find his own identity.  This happens a lot when someone is a disciple of an extraordinary leader, they end up imitating the original leader to sometimes embarrassing extremes and of course fail because no one can duplicate the original.  Zalesky’s yelling at the team in The Season is a straight imitation of Gable, the same gestures and intonation and chopped diction, and it just doesn’t work, because it’s Gable, not him.  I figure that it didn’t matter as much those first three seasons after Gable retired and they won NCAAs, since the team would have still included some Gable guys, but was probably a bigger problem the further out he got (as the results got worse). 

OK enough of my meaningless meanderings.  Happy New Year everyone.

Edited by drag it

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree I was disappointed.  Don’t  get me wrong, any material is good, but I was under the impression this was going to be fresh.  I already own the DVD of this particular documentary and had watched it when it was on HBO, so it was not what I was expecting, but still watched and appreciate the film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Watched it on opening day and got to the opening credits just to realize  it was the same recording I’d watched multiple times before.  Was hoping it this was all part of a collage of old clips spliced in, before new content.  But another 5 min. I turned it off after more of the same.  If you have never seen it or it’s been 20+ years since your last watch it worth a view.  I’ll probably watch it sometime later just to relive some of the moment, but was hoping for some new content and interviews.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, NJDan said:

I have not watched. But for Flo to buy and then re-sell an old doc w/o saying so is lame.

I think they did basically say so.  Apparently it took Bader several years and hundreds of calls to get it.  

Edited by 1032004

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I moved to an area close to where Bobby Douglas grew up and our local paper would periodically run a story about Gable and Douglas wrestling off for a world team in 1970. Story says that Douglas beat him 6 times in one day. Was this ever discussed in the movie? Did it really happen Below? Below is a copy and pasted part of article 

Now let me tell you a little known story about Bobby Douglas. In 1970, Bobby was nearing the end of his competitive career, and he decided to try out for one more U.S. World Championship team. He made it to the finals of the trials, and was pitted against a young upstart.

The finals involved the best out of three matches. Bobby won the first two matches, which means he made the team. But no, the coach wanted him to wrestle one more bout. That wasn't fair and Bobby didn't like it, but he agreed.

Believe it or not, that one more match turned into five more matches. The result: Bobby won 6 of the matches, while one match ended in a draw. But there's more to the story.

That opponent in that series was none other than Dan Gable. Yes, Bobby Douglas beat Dan Gable six times in one day. And Dan says he was only beaten once by Larry Owings.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, russling said:

I moved to an area close to where Bobby Douglas grew up and our local paper would periodically run a story about Gable and Douglas wrestling off for a world team in 1970. Story says that Douglas beat him 6 times in one day. Was this ever discussed in the movie? Did it really happen Below? Below is a copy and pasted part of article 

Now let me tell you a little known story about Bobby Douglas. In 1970, Bobby was nearing the end of his competitive career, and he decided to try out for one more U.S. World Championship team. He made it to the finals of the trials, and was pitted against a young upstart.

The finals involved the best out of three matches. Bobby won the first two matches, which means he made the team. But no, the coach wanted him to wrestle one more bout. That wasn't fair and Bobby didn't like it, but he agreed.

Believe it or not, that one more match turned into five more matches. The result: Bobby won 6 of the matches, while one match ended in a draw. But there's more to the story.

That opponent in that series was none other than Dan Gable. Yes, Bobby Douglas beat Dan Gable six times in one day. And Dan says he was only beaten once by Larry Owings.

 

There's an asterisk here....the loss to Owings was part of his high school/collegiate/folkstyle career.....the loss(es) to Douglas were freestyle/World Team Trials.  Similarly, Cael Sanderson, I believe had a loss during his redshirt season to Paul Jenn (Iowa), which they didn't count because it was during his redshirt season.  His 159-0 does not count any wins or losses from his redshirt season.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/2/2021 at 1:14 PM, russling said:

I moved to an area close to where Bobby Douglas grew up and our local paper would periodically run a story about Gable and Douglas wrestling off for a world team in 1970. Story says that Douglas beat him 6 times in one day. Was this ever discussed in the movie? Did it really happen Below? Below is a copy and pasted part of article 

Now let me tell you a little known story about Bobby Douglas. In 1970, Bobby was nearing the end of his competitive career, and he decided to try out for one more U.S. World Championship team. He made it to the finals of the trials, and was pitted against a young upstart.

The finals involved the best out of three matches. Bobby won the first two matches, which means he made the team. But no, the coach wanted him to wrestle one more bout. That wasn't fair and Bobby didn't like it, but he agreed.

Believe it or not, that one more match turned into five more matches. The result: Bobby won 6 of the matches, while one match ended in a draw. But there's more to the story.

That opponent in that series was none other than Dan Gable. Yes, Bobby Douglas beat Dan Gable six times in one day. And Dan says he was only beaten once by Larry Owings.

 

And my understanding is that Mack Gable spoke up for Bobby Douglas, saying he was the better wrestler and to let him go to Worlds,  or they probably would have kept wrestling them off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, AHamilton said:

And my understanding is that Mack Gable spoke up for Bobby Douglas, saying he was the better wrestler and to let him go to Worlds,  or they probably would have kept wrestling them off.

Sounds like Bobby Douglas needed a good lawyer at the time :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, hammerlockthree said:

I wouldn't have minded adding content which was a VHS tape I had a decade ago, but hyping it up for weeks and glancing over the fact that they had nothing to do with its production is ridiculous.

 

I heard them say on FRL at least 2x that they essentially bought it and brought it to Flo. One of those times they had Bader sit down and explain for about 10-15min of the show how long the process took and what it entailed. So, I wouldn't quite say they glanced over it.

It would seem they do own it now, and it is readily available for people with a subscription. I personally had never seen it before so I\m grateful to have been able to now. It was pretty cool I thought.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, iGranby said:

 

I heard them say on FRL at least 2x that they essentially bought it and brought it to Flo. One of those times they had Bader sit down and explain for about 10-15min of the show how long the process took and what it entailed. So, I wouldn't quite say they glanced over it.

It would seem they do own it now, and it is readily available for people with a subscription. I personally had never seen it before so I\m grateful to have been able to now. It was pretty cool I thought.

Thats all fair enough.

I'd just say, there is something wrong with promoting 20 year old content you did not produce for weeks instead of just putting it out there. 

I think its a great little documentary, and it is the framework for an amazing movie. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought it was subpar and didn’t realize it was produced by HBO and I follow Flo pretty closely.  
 

Speaking of amazing movie potential, when’s the one coming out about Benihana founder Rocky Aoki?  Never knew he qualified for olympics for Japan in 1960 but didn’t compete. He got kicked out of college there for fighting. Then tours US and tears everybody up. Then moves to US on a wrestling scholarship to Springfield College. From there his life gets crazier and crazier. Looked him up after watching the Wolf of Wall St again.  Wow what a life.  

Edited by AnklePicker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, AnklePicker said:

I thought it was subpar and didn’t realize it was produced by HBO and I follow Flo pretty closely.  
 

I agree that it's a little weird the way the film is presented.  If you hadn't heard the Bader interviews referenced above or didn't know another way, you wouldn't really have any idea whether this was a Flo film/who did this, when, etc.  I do see this as a mistake by Flo, but it doesn't change a real service that they've provided here by taking a serious mainstream documentary on the biggest name in the sport, which was out of circulation, and making it available (at least to subscribers).  

As I said in the OP, I thought the film fell short of what it could/should have been given the extraordinary access the makers apparently had, but it still contributes to the public record about this essential figure in the sport, and it's important for it to be accessible.  And I guess, to the extent that I didn't find their purchased Gable film as insightful into its subject as, for instance, Bader's Terry film or the Kolat series, etc., that's another compliment to Flo.  (Although it's never perfect with them.  In addition to the strange way it was presented, I had the obligatory IT glitches watching it -- it froze four or five times at about 15 or 20 minute intervals.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Promotional and marketing discussion notwithstanding, I think this is an extremely valuable thing for Flo to have done with this doc. I hadn't seen it before, but it's one of those things we would have lost if they weren't persistent about getting the rights to bring it back to our eyes. I'm working on projects to bring some of the historical articles and things written in old AWNs and NCAA guides back into a new digital world. Some of that will involve podcasts of content that's absolute historical gold, but the only way to access them is actually own the hard copies. 

Making this available for a new generation of viewers is extremely important. We've got a crop of wrestlers coming through who don't have access to things in the pre-internet and pre-video era. We've been fortunate enough to document the greats like Burroughs in real time. The old timers on this board got that through the printed word for the most part - video features like this were few and far between, so Flo bringing it back, as somewhat of an archivist and historian, should be praised. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, JasonBryant said:

Promotional and marketing discussion notwithstanding, I think this is an extremely valuable thing for Flo to have done with this doc. I hadn't seen it before, but it's one of those things we would have lost if they weren't persistent about getting the rights to bring it back to our eyes. I'm working on projects to bring some of the historical articles and things written in old AWNs and NCAA guides back into a new digital world. Some of that will involve podcasts of content that's absolute historical gold, but the only way to access them is actually own the hard copies. 

Making this available for a new generation of viewers is extremely important. We've got a crop of wrestlers coming through who don't have access to things in the pre-internet and pre-video era. We've been fortunate enough to document the greats like Burroughs in real time. The old timers on this board got that through the printed word for the most part - video features like this were few and far between, so Flo bringing it back, as somewhat of an archivist and historian, should be praised. 

And it seems as if actually would have been lost.  The amount of work that Bader had to go through to get it is very impressive.  A lot of legal hoops to jump through, it seems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The ability for people to proudly bitch about the most inane things continues to surprise me.  Amazing.  When they got the rights from HBO they announced it.  Then they promoted it.  You didn’t see the announcement ... oh no!  Be mad at Flo.  (Eye roll)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, nom said:

The ability for people to proudly bitch about the most inane things continues to surprise me.  Amazing.  When they got the rights from HBO they announced it.  Then they promoted it.  You didn’t see the announcement ... oh no!  Be mad at Flo.  (Eye roll)

Nobody stated they were "mad" at Flo. It seems some people, including me, missed the FRL discussion and were excited to watch what they thought was new material and were disappointed it was something already seen.  I agree that having access to this is excellent and think Flo did an awesome thing to get the rights and put it out there for fans, just thought I was going to be viewing something else.  Someone else made that observation and I agreed with their opinion.  I guess a wrestling forum is no place for opinions though.  (oh yeah, eye roll)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In that I subscribe to Flo and don’t intend to stop subscribing means I welcome any new content to their site whether or not it’s truly new or not. I have the book but hadn’t seen the movie so was glad to have some wrestling to watch over New Years. But yeah, pretty mediocre. 

They didn’t go anywhere with some really i tweeting storylines. Indeed, the Bobby Douglas story line is a big one. I’ve read interviews with Douglas where he spoke very bitterly about his beating Gable so handily and yet to read anpit Gable it’s like it never happened. It doesn’t exist. I don’t think Gable claimed much of anything about his record, but he hasn’t exactly gone out of his ways to emphasize that there were those he came before him and he had to take his lumps when he first moved to international. 

Would have been nice to learn what he thought the reason was. Just needed to mature? Douglas is the better wrestler ?

Also, we know Gable wrestled and beat Owings 7-1 in the Oly trials finals. Owings and Gable also entered the Midlands at the same weight the following December after the big upset. But Owings failed to make the finals.

Meanwhile what about Kemp vs Gable. Another example of a very interesting part of the Gable Story that while not at all unknown certainly could get more airtime. I’m sure many of you saw this great article on exactly that. 

https://www.leekemp.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Inside_wis_sports_article1.pdf

One could argue that this was more about his coaching and the amazing final season he had  Echoing OP I would have loved to have heard more about the athletes in the finals. They could have talked about the athletes. Whitmer was 6th seed and this was his first AA. He was a senior. That’s interesting stuff that would have enhanced the story  

Also of the other five finalists three were first seed and won.  Fullhart was 5th seed and won. Mena was 4th seed and took second. They didn’t even mention how many AAs they had. Some facts would have been nice.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/3/2021 at 4:53 PM, AnklePicker said:

I thought it was subpar and didn’t realize it was produced by HBO and I follow Flo pretty closely.  
 

Speaking of amazing movie potential, when’s the one coming out about Benihana founder Rocky Aoki?  Never knew he qualified for olympics for Japan in 1960 but didn’t compete. He got kicked out of college there for fighting. Then tours US and tears everybody up. Then moves to US on a wrestling scholarship to Springfield College. From there his life gets crazier and crazier. Looked him up after watching the Wolf of Wall St again.  Wow what a life.  

Super interesting story about Rocky Aoki. I know who his son is but had never heard about this guy. Thanks for sharing. Apparently he was the US Flyweight champion 3 years in a row and is in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. I imagine it would make an interesting movie but it would be extremely difficult to get information from all the way back then for the wrestling part of it. I could see Hollywood trying to make a movie about him one day though. I'll have to try Benihana one day. 

https://www.theringer.com/2018/7/24/17606204/benihana-rocky-aoki-feature

https://www.businessinsider.com/benihana-founder-rocky-aoki-japanese-cuisine-teppanyaki-america-2019-5

https://thehustle.co/rocky-aoki-benihana-family-fortune/

 

As for the Gable movie, it was online for free but Flo had it removed shorty after they acquired it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I enjoyed watching this.  It could have been deeper I suppose but during this pandemic, it was nice to watch a well done, if not Oscar-worthy, documentary on the man who was the wrestling icon for many (including me).  For younger wrestlers it is a good view of the drive DG had to reach his goals, all while overcoming some big setbacks, like the death of his sister.

if you are a wrestling fan I would think this an enjoyable show to watch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/2/2021 at 10:14 AM, russling said:

I moved to an area close to where Bobby Douglas grew up and our local paper would periodically run a story about Gable and Douglas wrestling off for a world team in 1970. Story says that Douglas beat him 6 times in one day. Was this ever discussed in the movie? Did it really happen Below? Below is a copy and pasted part of article 

Now let me tell you a little known story about Bobby Douglas. In 1970, Bobby was nearing the end of his competitive career, and he decided to try out for one more U.S. World Championship team. He made it to the finals of the trials, and was pitted against a young upstart.

The finals involved the best out of three matches. Bobby won the first two matches, which means he made the team. But no, the coach wanted him to wrestle one more bout. That wasn't fair and Bobby didn't like it, but he agreed.

Believe it or not, that one more match turned into five more matches. The result: Bobby won 6 of the matches, while one match ended in a draw. But there's more to the story.

That opponent in that series was none other than Dan Gable. Yes, Bobby Douglas beat Dan Gable six times in one day. And Dan says he was only beaten once by Larry Owings.

 

 

Where would Gable rank in on a list of our America's best wrestlers?

Considering this quote would he even be considered the greatest wrestler of his era? Or is he just the most popular?

There's a lot of talk about how he went unscored upon in the Olympics. Has this never happened before American or otherwise?

Maybe that performance ranks in the top 10 Olympic performances. However, with just two gold medals, reduced weights and the breakup of the Soviet Union I might hesitate to even include him in our top 10.

What are your thoughts on this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...