About the Film
It is with pleasure that FilmNC Capital Management, LLC announces the development and production of McGuire's Miracle, a feature-length motion picture centered around the miraculous events and colorful characters that fueled one of the most storied collegiate sports seasons ever — that of the undefeated 1957 University of North Carolina national champion men's basketball team.
Hollywood could not have provided a more exciting climax to this astonishing season as the 32-0 Tar Heels slew a Wilt Chamberlain-led Kansas Jayhawks team for the National Collegiate Basketball Championship. This thrilling championship game has been touted by eminent sports historians as "the best game ever" and is generally believed to have played a significant role in transforming collegiate basketball into one of the most popular sports in America.
The Principals — A Band of Heroes
On a team filled with heroes, Coach Frank McGuire led the charge. Manhattan born and bred and bigger-than-life, he became head coach of the UNC basketball program immediately after having most successfully shepherded New York City powerhouse St. John's University to national prominence. It's, no doubt, safe to say that UNC's basketball program had been "flailing" prior to McGuire's arrival. Indeed, it ranked 278th among all comparable collegiate programs the year he arrived.
Down what was known as McGuire's North-to-South "Underground Railroad" came an unlikely crew of players all of whom made their bones on the storied high school and recreational courts of the New York City metropolitan area. The starting five included team captain Lennie Rosenbluth from the Bronx; Pete Brennan and Joe Quigg from Brooklyn; Bob Cunningham from Manhattan; and Tommy Kearns from Bergenfield, New Jersey.
This first team was joined by Bob Young from Queens; Danny Lotz from Northport, New York; Bill Hathaway from Long Beach, New York; Tony Radovich from Hoboken, New Jersey; and Stan Groll from Brooklyn. Three North Carolina players joined this cadre — Ken Rosemond from Hillsborough; Roy Searcy from Draper; and Gerhrmann Holland from Beauford to round out the '57 Carolina team.
This was not your usual Atlantic Coast Conference team. But it worked. It worked beautifully!
A Character-Rich Film Set Against an Energetic Backdrop
Set against the charming backdrop of the lovely UNC-Chapel Hill campus this movie tells the character-rich story of the men who coached and played the games when Tar Heel basketball came of age. As the audience is drawn into McGuire's Miracle, it will be taken on a journey that explores the improbable and celebrated championship season of a team filled with star personalities where loyalties were forged into life-long friendships.
Frank McGuire was their coach. Coach had no more trouble sparring with legendary N.C. State basketball coach Everett Case than he did showing steadfast loyalty to one of the great technicians of the game, his one-time mentor and assistant, Buck Freeman.
McGuire's urbane and sartorial flair and charismatic demeanor made for a dapper and dashing coach and an ideal leading man. He was a dominating presence well known for showmanship. For example, at home games the pep band played "Sweet Georgia Brown" when his Tar Heels took the court, and Coach always made sure the game balls were embellished a Carolina blue.
As the film progresses, the audience will not only gain an understanding of what drove this team to greatness, it will also learn about the love affairs and storied antics of these larger-than-life players. The film crescendos with the National Championship basketball game in Kansas City. On this night, forward Joe Quigg iced a perfect season with two free throws that resulted in the 54-53 triple overtime win over the stunned Jayhawks. At the end, play-by-play announcer Ray Reeve screamed into the radio microphone, "The Tar Heels have not just brought home the bacon, they have brought home the whole hog!" With this proclamation, Chapel Hill's iconic Franklin Street filled with students and citizens, as town and gown came together in one of the best chronicled and exciting post-game celebrations ever.
A little known fact is that McGuire's wife, Pat, was a successful child actress and an original member of the "Our Gang" comedies, lending her persona to a screen-natural presence.
No sports history of the 1950's and ACC basketball would be complete without a cameo featuring the showmanship of beloved referee Lou Bello. This flamboyant court jester of college basketball would point an emphatic finger when a foul was committed and yell out with a revelrous boom, "You did it, I saw you do it!"
The year 1957 marks the period when college basketball became a "media sensation." This happened in great part due to the genius of Carolina alumnus, Castleman D. Chesley. Television was just finding its audience when Chesley began selling live feeds of the games to television stations across the South. His keen vision and acumen were contributing factors to the basketball frenzy along "tobacco road," helping to turn college basketball into the internationally popular game we know today.
Filmatic Elements of a Most Relevant and Timely Tale
A sophisticated, original jazz and pop score will be placed behind the film — along with the insertion of musical standards from the Great American Songbook.
Along with exquisite cinematography, this cleverly edited film will support a unique story that bridges the world's largest and most powerful city with one of America's loveliest college towns. As Lou Carnesecca, former St. John's University head coach and close friend of McGuire recently commented, "When UNC won the '57 National Basketball Championship, you would have thought New York City had won it. There was that much excitement in the air in the City." Carnesecca further added that "If Frank would have run for Mayor of New York then, he would have won hands down!"
There are many giants on whose shoulders the "delightful madness" surrounding current day collegiate basketball now stands. Perhaps the one great Goliath amongst these can be tracked back to a North Carolina village called Chapel Hill where an improbable collection of street-smart New Yorkers became Dixie's favorite Yankees!