The World's Greatest Athlete

Infobox Film
name = The World's Greatest Athlete

image_size = 280px
caption = DVD
director = Robert Scheerer
producer = Bill Walsh
writer = Dee Caruso
Gerald Gardner
narrator =
starring = Tim Conway
Jan-Michael Vincent
music = Marvin Hamlisch
cinematography =
editing =
distributor = Buena Vista
released = 1973
runtime = 93 min.
country = U.S.A.
language = English
budget =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
amg_id = 1:55516
imdb_id = 0070928

"The World's Greatest Athlete" is a 1973 American feature film released by the Walt Disney Company. It starred John Amos, Roscoe Lee Browne, Tim Conway, Dayle Haddon, and Jan-Michael Vincent. It is credited with having been the 10th-top grossing film released in 1973, just ahead of "American Graffiti". It is one of the few wide-release Hollywood sports films to look at the world of track and field, as the "World's Greatest Athlete", Nanu, played by Vincent, competes in the decathlon.

Plot summary

As the movie begins, college athletic coach Sam Archer (Amos) and his assistant Milo Jackson (Conway) are trapped in classic establishing-shot roles: they are the coaches at "Merrivale College", and their teams invariably lose. A series of plot coincidences sends the pair to Africa, where they catch sight of the Tarzan-like Nanu, who can outrun a cheetah in full bound.

Seeing this, the coaching staff quickly whip out their recruitment pen and papers, but soon fall (literally) into the clutches of Nanu's mentor, spiritual leader Gazenga (Browne). Nanu, it develops, is an orphan and an innocent child of the bush. Gazenga believes that throwing Nanu into the world of competitive United States college athletics would interfere with his spiritual development.

Despite Gazenga's concerns, the ambitious coaches persuade Nanu to join the Merrivale College program. From this point forward, the plot is driven by a combination of slapstick and suspense, for Nanu's destiny as the "World's Greatest Athlete" will annoy several powerful people who are used to getting their way.

Nanu's innocence, Archer's scheming, Jackson's ineptitude, Gazenga's outraged wisdom, and the Machiavellian plotting of the villains all play roles in the action as the movie heads toward the final track meet. The atmosphere of American competition does indeed threaten Nanu, but he is saved from disintegration by love interest Jane Douglas (Haddon).

The climactic track meet is peppered with commentary by ABC-TV sportscaster Howard Cosell, playing himself.


* Nanu's closest companion is a pet tiger, which he brings with him from Africa to California; however, tigers are not native to Africa. This problem was apparently brought to the attention of the moviemakers while the movie was in production; Nanu explains that the tiger emigrated from India to Africa as a cub.

* Much of the film was shot on the campus of the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.

External links

*imdb title|id=0070928|title=The World's Greatest Athlete
*amg title|id=1:55516|title=The World's Greatest Athlete

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