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Moe on the Silver Screen: Will it ever happen?

moenormanLorne Rubenstein has a column in today’s Globe on the proposed Moe Norman biopic that has been championed by Barry Morrow since, well, at least when Moe win his last Canadian CPGA Seniors. Okay, maybe not quite that long, but you get the sense of where I’m coming from.

In fact, as far as movies go I think only Watchmen has had so much discussion before actually being made.  It has been a decade since Morrow completed the screenplay for the proposed film, and Rubenstein’s column suggests the film will actually finally happen this summer at a cost of $10 million. It doesn’t matter that Morrow, according to the Internet Movie Database, has done little for almost two decades. Apparently this is the start of a comeback. I can actually hear the words of Entourage’s Ari Gold when discussing Morrow:

“I mean, Lloyd, back in the day this guy was something else,” Gold would explain breathlessly. “But he’s been buried longer than Jimmy Hoffa.”

In truth, Rubenstein says some of the details are now in place:

The actor who will play Moe has yet to be determined, while Morrow could have a director in place by next week. The film will have a budget of approximately $10-million (U.S.), and is being co-produced by Morrow, and BellTower Entertainment, based in Los Angeles with offices in Toronto and Shanghai. The intent is to film in Canada, starting this summer. Financing is in place.

The actor who plays Moe is, of course, of singular importance.

Among the actors we considered a few years ago were Philip Seymour Hoffman and Heath Ledger, Morrow said.

 

Yes, you read that correctly. Heath Ledger. Funny how Ledger’s star has risen so much since his slightly seedy death. But did Morrow really need to float the name of Heath Ledger? Hate to break it to you guys, but aside from being dead, he was a little too much of the good looking side of the equation to play the oddly shaped Norman. Unless, of course, this is a completely revisionist history. Philip Seymour Hoffman? An interesting choice who picks quirky films. Maybe.

But read what is written here — there’s supposedly financing in place, but no director and no star and the film is supposed to start production this summer.

Top this all off with the fact that most golf films are awful. Caddyshack and Tin Cup aside, there are some real clunkers out there, including Bagger Vance, which features some of the worst acting by two big name stars — Matt Damon and Will Smith — in the history of cinema. And don’t get me started on The Greatest Game Ever Played its lead, the truly untalented Shia LaBeouf. Did we really need the cameras becoming the golf balls and the awful sound effects to capture a remarkable point in the game’s history?

To say I’m not holding out hope that we’ll see this movie is probably a fair take. And I’m actually more worried about what might actually see if the film is made. If they were serious about casting Ledger as Norman, then I envision a real reworking of history here, with Norman, notorious for sleeping in ditches after tournaments and pawning prizes to earn a little cash, being played by some vacant Hollywood minor-star. And even Rain Man had a love interest — so I’m sure there will be one of those as well.

Norman, according to Tim O’Connor’s biography, was an exceedingly difficult and maddening character. Was he autistic? Maybe. Did a blow to the head change his life? Perhaps. Will these nuances be difficult to capture on film or will it become an endless series of celluloid trick shots hit off the tops of Coke bottles?

Truth is the Moe Norman movie could be a lot of things. But a great golf picture? I’m not holding my breath.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

25 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Mr. T,

    Maybe Briny Baird from the PGA Tour can be the stunt man for the character. As far as actor goes, I can think of Mickey Rourke to play the middle age Moe.

    BTW, how come you haven’t written about TGC HD finally arrived in Canada (well, for Rogers customers anyway)?

  • Mark Evershed for Moe, challenging makeup but perfect!
    Combo FOLLOW THE SUN and CADDYSHACK. I think a movie could be very interesting, people wouldn’t have to have known and loved Moe to enjoy seeing his story. Who’s playing Panny and Wilf and Gus Maue?

  • It should be between Evershed and Edge for Moe,
    Gus can become an actor and play Gus and the same goes for Wilf.

    Lots of great Canadian seniors can play bit parts -John Hendrick-
    Patterson,- Breen-Panasuick

    If they could do this, it might be believable.

    Too bad Mandarich (Carlisle GC) has passed on, as well as Weslock.

  • Like any typical hollywood script they will probably introduce some love interest for Moe (likely played by some young hottie!) and he will be torn between his love for the game and her…

    As much as I would like to see a movie about his life…..it scares me to think how it might actually turn out. Regardless….Edge would make a great Moe!

  • Herb could play Herb, Tom Tremblay and Finn Sorenson play themselves too! Bruce Harper play Weslock!
    Can’t wait, can’t wait! Keith Tucker play himself.

  • When I saw this headline I thought you were referring to a news item I heard yesterday about a new proposed Three Stooges movie.I thought RT even has great connections in Hollywood!!!!!

  • I spent fifteen years with Moe in Canada and the United States. I have a book coming out soon to be published where my partners and i are seeking the right publisher to enter into a publishing contract. The book is on the Real Moe Norman and how Moe actually swung the golf club. I was very fortunate to have Moe as my closest friend where i met him in 1974 to learn during the era when he was hitting the ball the best in the world. Natural golf used Moe as their model to promote products and teaching. To be truthful the relationship with Moe was in the nineties when Moe was a old man where these promoters of Moe’s Golf swing really didn’t have a clue what Moe did to hit the ball so pure time after time. As for myself i hit the golf ball the way Moe taught me as he hits it. I am the closest in the world where we have photographs to prove it that will be published in the book. I could be one of the straightest hitters of the golfball today and swing the golf club the way Moe swung in the early sixties. I would like you to contact me if you would like Mr. Thompson. If the movie wants reality i would be the best choice. By the way Moe was built like me strong and in good shape during the era i was tutored by him. Not the way he is being portrayed as a old man. It is like Moe use to say. they only think they know. To end there are really only two men that know Moe the man and his golf swing. Greg Lavern Halifax, Nova Scotia. Canada and Lawson Mitchell Ormond Beach Flordia.
    Robert i will give you my phone numbers if you would like to contact me. golf course number. 1(902) 852-1100 & cell 1(902) 293-4432
    I hope to hear from you.
    Thank you
    Greg Lavern

  • Greg,

    I think you are forgetting a gentleman named Todd Graves that not only spent a significant amount of time with Moe Norman in his later years, but he can also demonstrate and explain Moe’s golf swing with authority. I think he even has a website, http://www.moenorman.org, that is dedicated to the legacy of Moe Norman.

    I am sure you knew Moe and his swing well and may even be able to move the club just like Moe, but you cannot lay claim that you and Lawson are the only ones that knew him and his swing. There are others like Todd that obviously knew Moe and his golf swing quite well.

  • Its pretty easy to see when you view Greg Laverns Youtube clips, that he is the only person alive that Moe shared any REAL SUBSTANCE when it comes to truely understanding the secrets that allowed him to be the best ballstriker ever. Remember that of everyone Moe met during his life, he picked only one guy,Greg Lavern to trust enough to share his secret.

  • Tim,
    FYI, the claim that Greg Laverns is the only person who Moe shared any “real substance” with is very much incorrect. Clay Edwards from Houston TX., my personal swing coach and close friend since 1984 (and who also worked with Mike Weir for his first few years as a pro) worked closely with Moe.
    In 1982 I was very touched when Moe cared enough about my personal progress as a young player on the PGA Tour and watched closely how I performed. In fact, Moe watched every round I played in the final 6 rounds of the Q-school at the TPC Sawgrass in 1982. At the 1984 Bay Hill Classic in Orlando I was seriously struggling with my swing and I asked Moe for help, Moe recommended Clay Edwards who Moe completely shared his personal thoughts with. Moe introduced me to Clay right there on the practice tee that week. From that point on Clay was extremely instrumental in my development as a player.
    Every year at the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey, Clay Edwards always made it a point to be come to the Canadian Open because of Moe. Clay would always pull Moe out of the gallery under the ropes on to the player’s driving range to chat with us. It came to be quite routine, in conversation I would just hand Moe the club that I was using and Moe would start hitting balls. It wasn’t long before a crowd of Tour players formed around Moe and was all watch Moe. It happened every year.
    At the 2000 Canadian Open on the practice green prior to the first round Tiger Woods was practicing his putting. Moe was watching Tiger from 20feet away. Edwards was watching Moe watch Tiger. Tiger was engulfed in his preparation. Right then and there Clay Edwards took notice of the unique situation that two of the greatest players in the history of the golf have never met. Clay Edwards wasn’t about to let this important moment in golf not happen. Clay abruptly walked up to Tiger and said. “Tiger, I want to introduce you to the great Moe Norman!” Tiger without blinking responded and walked over to Moe and extended his hand and the two great players met, had a few words, for the first and last time. Moe was happy.
    Clay Edwards and Moe were very close and shared closeness in thinking about the golf swing. Moe very much allowed Clay to offer his thoughts and Moe accepted them. Moe was very appreciative to have Clay Edwards in his life.
    Zokol

  • Wow…Zokol..I’m honoured

    Please view Greg’s video’s under trueswinggolf. “I believe” his swing speaks for itself. Every other Moe Norman swinger out there that I have looked at, after scouring the internet, pale in comparison.

    If possible, could you give me your opinion on why, after being recognized as the greatest ballstricker that ever lived, not one Pro
    has decided to REALLY learn and adopt Moe’s swing? His method is obviously better. I like to compare it to the revolution in high jumping, the fosbury flop. His competetors witnessed something that was obviously much better and “made the switch”.
    Imagine if they had decided that his motion was far too unconventional and decided to sit on the sidelines and watch Fosbery out preform them every day. Isn’t that what happened with Moe?

    Thanks Tim

  • Tim,

    It’s a great topic…

    I have seen Greg’s swing and it absolutely mirrors Moe’s swing. If the purpose is to mirror Moe’s swing, he’s got my vote. But if the purpose of a method is to win golf championships at the highest level, truthfully, I don’t believe Moe’s method of swinging a golf club would get very far in the modern game of power.
    I’ve watched a few professionals try to use this method. Sandy Lyle, Tony Sills come to mind that have attempted to use this method on the PGA Tour, as have others on the CanTour… it didn’t work for any of them. For one, they lost tremendous power when they swing the club in the palm of their hands, which removes the hinge in their wrist, which accounts to a significant power accumulator deficiency. That loss of power is a deal breaker right there, full stop. The major loss of distance doesn’t compensate enough for the control gained for these guys using this method.
    Given the competitive nature of the PGA Tour and the amount of money available, if this method truly worked, don’t you think everyone would jump on it? Fosbury’s method proved out to be the dominant style and still is today because it works in the heat of battle. If Moe’s method really worked it would have been proven out on the PGA Tour today.
    Moe may have proved to be the best ball-striker in the history of the game, but I think Moe also proved that ball-striking alone does not make a champion golfer. Any swing method needs to prove-out under the heat of championship competition. IMO, the only person who has the physical strength and ability to leave this much power on the table and become a champion at the highest level is Tiger. But Tiger would win using any method.
    Regards,
    Zokol

  • Mr. Zokol

    Thanks for your response. When I hear the words POWER GOLF, I feel sick. What the ball and club manufacterers have done to this game, has ruined the pure history golf was once known for. It reminds me of the days I played tennis. When the governing bodies allowed the use of oversized racquets on the scene, it replaced talent with power. Look what has happened to tennis. It is a shadow of its former self. The USGA has finally taken one step towards rewarding the skilled player back into the game (V grooves}.The intergrity of this game is all of our responsibility. Allowing any manufacturer to dictate the direction a game takes is sick. When I hear people say that Tiger is the greatest ever, I have my doubts. Had Nicklaus used todays ball, how many more majors would he have won. Nicklaus and Palmer and many of the best players in history voiced there concerns when this started several years ago, but they were ignored. The PGA Tour and the Eurpoean tour need to set the bar. They are the pinnacle influence for 60 million golfer out there. I would love to see The US Open force the players to use a ball with the same spin caracteristics from 15 years ago. I doubt you would see Tiger take his usual RIP at the ball. He would be two fairways over, rather than 20 feet into the rough.

  • I saw Tiger play the US Open as an amateur 15 years (ok actually 14 1/2 years ago) at Oakland Hills. He was taking bigger rips at the ball than he is today and was not two fairways over. He made the cut and while he was well down the scoreboard, he beat many competitors who were shorter and straighter. Nostalgia tends to have a rose coloured glass filter.

    I doubt Nicklaus would have won more tournaments if he used today’s contemporary golf ball (his competitors would also be using the same technology). Nicklaus was great for many reasons but one of them was that he overpowered the field the same way Tiger does today. That advantage exists whether they use old or new technology.

    Technology has made many classic traditional golf courses useless for today’s competitive golf landscape. Technology has not enabled Tiger to win more…just that he wins on golf courses that the likes of Nicklaus et al would not have played (either modified classics or new longer layouts).

  • Tim,

    I get shivers when I am called Mr….

    I hear you loud and clear and absolutely agree with your philosophy in how the game has veered way off track with equipment technology. The PGA Tour and the USGA ran the other way with Ping’s suite of $300-Million in 1992. Which amounted to golf manufactures really controlling the game in the aftermath. But that’s another subject.

    But let’s stay on point with power. Power that I speak of should not be confused with equipment technology. Power is a significant element in any sport at the highest level including golf. Weekend Enth. makes that point. I personally believe Moe’s swing simply puts a player at a significant disadvantage at the highest level the game is played today. If it was good as you say it is, it would have already worked… the nature of competition would have proved it out.

    The only way you can compare players of different generations with any form of equality is to try and keep apples with apples. Look at the gap between Tiger and his closest competition (Phil, Ernie, Harrington, etc.) and compare Jack’s closet competition (Floyd, Watson, Miller, Player, Trevino, etc) and measure the two different gaps. In his time, Jack had a small number of guys to beat compared to that of Tiger and Tiger’s gap is still significantly larger. Please don’t claim that today’s competition for Tiger is weaker than it was for Nicklaus day. That is simply not true. Sure Nicklaus may have gotten more majors if he was pushed, I grant that, but that is too big an “if”. I think we all would love to see a roll-back on equipment, and Tiger’s advantage may even get larger, who knows. I played in both eras and in my mind, it’s not even close, but it would have been fun to watch.

  • Check out. http://www.Youtube.com search for Moe Norman’s best pupil. There will be videos for your viewing. Enjoy! The fact of the matter is I have all Moe’s knowledge and move like him the way he taught me. At 53 soon to be 54 i still swing E3 irons and E5 woods. I met Moe in 1974 where i spent more time through practicing, playing, and discussing the golf swing than anyone alive. A book soon to be published will reveal the truth. thank you.

  • I was friends with Murray for over 50 years, I certainly don’t remember Murray mentioning Greg but then again my memory isn’t as good as it used to be.

    Whilst Greg’s swing looks similar he’s not got the same engine, its like a Ferrari and a cheap kit car the week slap at the ball is evident enough of this never mind the sound, I think it would be debatable whether he actually did spend time with him or whether he is just trying to con his way into making a quick buck, who knows maybe he was just obtuse!

    Consult with Todd Graves about any film productions certainly don’t employ that charlatan.

  • moetime

    Debatable whether he actually did spend time with him??
    Please elaborate on your lengthy history with Moe and if possible
    post “your swing” on youtube so we can see how much weight
    your expertise on Moe’s method should be considered.

  • “Debatable whether he actually did spend time with him??
    Please elaborate on your lengthy history with Moe and if possible
    post “your swing” on youtube so we can see how much weight
    your expertise on Moe’s method should be considered.”

    after reading the posts greg said that he is 53 going on 54 and that he met moe norman in 1974, when he would have been 17 or 18 years old. at which time he spent 15 years traveling and practicing with moe (during this time moe was traveling and doing clinics from my understanding, so if this was the case greg would have been traveling with moe). im sorry, but the idea that there was an 18 year old kid traveling with moe norman for 15 years during which time NOBODY NOTICED that there was a kid hanging around moe all the time is laughable. that being said if you have some evidence maybe you should post it and “we can see how much weight your expertise on moes method should be considered.”

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