Gar is a high school journalist who covers the basketball team as it heads toward a state championship; when his best friend Matt, the team's star, is asked by a drug dealer to throw the big game, Gar inevitably gets caught in the middle.
Haley Joel Osment,
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'Red Chief', one of O.Henry's most engaging stories, has been filmed at least three times. (I can find no record of the Alex Linz version several have referred to; it does not appear in his IMDb biography.) This version strikes me as the poorest of the three: too much slapstick, too many extraneous characters (the housemaid, the sheriff/narrator) who only slow down the action.
The story was first filmed in 1952 along with four other stories in 'O.Henry's Full House'. The kidnappers were played by the brilliant radio comedian Fred Allen and the equally brilliant pianist/comedian Oscar Levant so it should have been a winner but somehow it failed to click, to me at least. (Lee Aaker of 'Rin Tin Tin' played the boy.) But amazingly the truest and funniest version of this quintessentially American story was filmed in France. 'Le grand chef' (1959) featured Fernandel, then France's leading comic, and Gino Cervi, a prominent Italian actor. 'Red chief' was played by an enchanting youngster named Papouf. Downloadable copies are available but so far I haven't seen one with subtitles. You can use it to brush up on your French or just to enjoy the action.
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