This week’s theme is a little ironic. They just announced the olympics will be held without an audience due to this THING wrecking the world. Shame really but also understandable. Yet I shall try not to make this into something it’s not supposed to be. I mean I’m supposed to talk about female athletes… in movies. But because I’m a sucker for a theme within a theme I’m going with the documentary route today. All these documentaries are from 2020.


This documentary is not focusing on a single athlete. Instead there are a few inspiring female athletes in this documentary. Rising Phoenix focuses on the Paralympic Games and its athletes. For instance Ellie Cole, a swimmer who represents Australia. She won two gold medals, three silver and a bronze at Rio de Janeiro Paralympics in 2016. And Italian Bebe Vio, a fencer who is a 2014 and 2016 European champion. As well as 2015 and 2017 World champion, and 2016 Paralympic champion in the foil B category. Rising Phoenix overall has so many inspiring stories! And even though I wished it was a mini-series that gave every athlete their own episode, I’m glad it even exists.

2. A SECRET LOVE (2020)

This one is a little bit different. There is a female athlete at the core of this documentary and there’s even talks about the sports itself but A Secret Love is about so much more. In the center of this documentary are pro baseball player Terry Donahue and her long time partner Pat Henschel. While we get a glimpse into Donahue’s career as an athlete this movie is truly about the love she shares with Henschel – a secret love. The love story between these two women is heart breaking in the sweetest way and it’s a story worth your time.

1. ATHLETE A (2020)

While the first two are inspirational and in ways a positive take on female athleticism, Athlete A is far from being those things. It’s a documentary that follows Indianapolis Star reporters that broke the story about USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s abuse. In this you also get to hear from gymnasts like Maggie Nichols. It’s… the dark side of the world of sports. It’s a dark side of the world in general. This should never happen, never! And yet it happens every day….




  • I like how you went with documentaries! The only one I’ve seen is Athlete A, which I enjoyed but was a tough watch. I think I prefer the other documentary on the subject, At The Heart of Gold, I think it’s called.

  • You’re so good with the themes within the theme, love to see that! Unfortunately I have not seen any of these, or heard of them until now but I’m intrigued by all three so on to the ever growing to see list they go!!

    No theme within the theme for me though my last two interrelate.

    Girls Can Play (1937)-Ambitious cub reporter Jimmy Jones (Charles Quigley) covering the sports beat meets Ann Casey (Julie Bishop) player on an all-girl softball team sponsored by local drugstore owner Foy Harris (John Gallaudet). Jones thinking he smells a story about women in competitive sports pursues Ann, there’s a story alright but it’s not the one he thinks. Using the team as a mask of respectability Harris runs a bootleg operation from the back of his store. With the girls out on the pitch and Jones digging for dirt team catcher Sue Collins (Rita Hayworth) learns too much and pays the price. Lower case Columbia B has a shadow of the future A League of Their Own, but nothing is done with the idea. It does provide a glimpse of future star Hayworth, still a brunette, working her way up before the studio transformed her into one of the premiere love goddesses of the Golden Era.

    Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951)-When teenager Florence Farley’s (Sally Forrest) skill as a tennis player begins to attract attention, her manipulative mother Milly (Claire Trevor-easily stealing the picture), pressures her to join the competitive women’s tennis circuit over the objections of Florence’s father Will (Kenneth Patterson). Florence’s fame and success grow and so do her mother’s ambition and chicanery. Look at the mid-century women’s sports world was both written (Martha Wilkerson) and directed (Ida Lupino) by a woman…the ONLY film directed by a woman in all 1951!

    Pat and Mike (1952)-College athletic director Pat Pemberton (Katharine Hepburn) decides to enter some professional women’s golf matches to see how she’ll do. She excels until her domineering fiancé, Collier Weld (William Ching), turns up and distracts her. But before that happens sports manager Mike Conovan (Spencer Tracy) sees her talent and offers to train her, and she turns pro. After realizing that Pat stops trying when Collier is around, Mike works to keep them apart especially when he takes a shine to her himself. Written specifically for Hepburn by Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon because of the star’s athletic skill the film also features many of the top women athletes of the day including top golfers Betty Hicks, Helen Dettweiler and Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

    Babe (1975)-Speaking of Zaharias, considered one of the greatest athletes of all time, this TV biopic follows her life (enacted by Susan Clark) from just before she won two gold medals in the 1932 track and field Olympics through her dabbling and excelling in baseball and basketball, her courtship and marriage to professional wrestler George Zaharias (football star Alex Karras), her decision to pursue golf, her ascension to the top of that game and finally being felled by cancer at age 45. Susan Clark (who won an Emmy for her performance) and Karras fell in love and married after the film remaining together until Karras’s death in 2012.

  • I would love to see all 3! You know, I remember the gymnastics coach and disliked him from the start just the anger he had when he looked at these little girls. It gave me the creeps. I actually stopped watching the Olympic gymnastics when the U.S. was on because of him. I had no clue how horrible he truly was and this is not the only sport. (tell me, why do the women volleyball players wear such tight bikini “uniforms” under the hot sun and sand where the men get to be in loose clothing…why are they not in little bikini briefs?). The paralympics looks so good and makes me feel bad because I can’t do any sports and I have all my limbs etc… The other one about their forbidden love would be so sad but it sounds like they were still able to be together.

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