This weekend Drew Barrymore makes her directorial debut with Whip It, the story of a young girl who finds the antidote for her small town blues on the roller derby track.
Barrymore’s movie delves deep into the murky world of women’s roller derby, but it isn’t the sport’s first big screen treatment.
In the early 1970s UCLA student Barry Sandler saw his master’s thesis, a screenplay called Kansas City Bomber, become a Golden Globe-nominated movie starring Raquel Welch. She plays a single Mom roller-derby queen (Jodie Foster is her daughter) who has an affair with her boss and a skating showdown with a rival.
The 1970s were the height of roller derby’s popularity but the sport made a comeback early in the millennium. That return was chronicled in Hell On Wheels, a documentary about a women-only Roller Derby league in Austin, Texas.
Ain’t It Cool says this inspirational movie has “the kind of twists, drama, cat fights and compound fractures that only happen in real life.”
Maybe that explains why the roller derby is popular again. Sure, the action is wild and wooly and it has a punk rock attitude but its recent recognition has to do with the people and girl power.
– Richard Crouse’s Movie Show can be seen every Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on the E! Channel; email@example.com.