Top 10 Movies with an Amputee Hero

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Top 10 Movies with an Amputee Hero

Post: # 25494Post admin
13 Feb 2018, 12:40

1. A Winner Never Quits



This made-for-TV biopic, starring Keith Carradine in the lead role, examines the life of semi-professional and professional baseball player Pete Gray (born Peter Wyshner in Nanticoke, PA in 1915), who lost his right arm above the elbow at the age of six. Like the women whose lives were portrayed in A League of Their Own, Pete Gray's career as a baseball player for the Trois Rivieres Renards, the Memphis Chicks, the Brooklyn Bushwicks, and the St. Louis Browns was made possible because of the scarcity of male baseball players during World War II. And like those women, Gray's own career was also greatly affected by the return of servicemen to the United States after the tides turned in the war.

This film is on this list because, although it is a made-for-TV movie and the lead actor is not an amputee himself, the film examines the not only Gray's life story, but also the issue of Gray's disability and how it affected his successes and his losses and his basic drive to succeed. Co-starring such notable actors and actresses as Mare Winningham, G. W. Bailey, Dennis Weaver, Fionnula Flanagan, Ed O'Neill, Dana Delaney, and Mary Jo Deschanel (mother of Emily and Zooey), this film is a well-rounded portrayal of one man's life experiences.

How it fits the criteria:

Is the amputee character played by an amputee actor? No. In this film, Keith Carradine appears to have been transformed into an above elbow arm amputee by simply bending and binding his arm and wearing baggy shirts over it.
Is the character central to the film? Absolutely. This film is his life story, so points for being a film whose entire focus is the life of one amputee man.
Is his disability central to the film? Again, absolutely. This film is about his disability and its role in his life story. Points for having his disability as the central focus of the film.
Is there an element of romance in this film involving the amputee character? Yes, this film in part deals with Pete’s relationship with his wife, Annie (Mare Winningham), and it is a relatively fleshed-out relationship with both ups and downs.

5. How important is the romantic element to the plot of the film? Annie is his main supporter and the film deals with both the ups and downs of their relationship, but the film is not about their romance, and though their relationship is central to the plot, it is not the focus of the plot.

2. Men of Honor (2000)



This is the second biopic profiled in this list, this one telling the story of US Navy diver Carl Brashear, who became the first African American Navy diver in US history. Later, following an injury while saving the life of another sailor, he becomes the first amputee Navy diver. It chronicles Chief Brashear's battle with racism and ableism in his quest to become not only the first African American Navy diver, but also the first African American to attain the rank of Master Chief in this role. The film also tells the story of Chief Brashear's romance with librarian Jo, who helped him make it through the academic portions of his diving training and eventually became his wife.

How it fits the criteria:

Is the amputee character played by an amputee actor? No. Cuba Gooding Jr. is not an amputee in real life.
Is the character central to the film? This film is a biopic about this character's life, so yes, definitely.
Is his disability central to the film? It is central to the last third of the film.
Is there an element of romance in this film involving the amputee character? Yes, although most of the romance takes place before his amputation.
How important is the romantic element to the plot of the film? It plays a large role, although again, most of it takes place before Chief Brashear's amputation.


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Re: Top 10 Movies with an Amputee Hero

Post: # 25495Post admin
13 Feb 2018, 12:43

3. The Terry Fox Story (1983)



This biopic tells the story of Canadian cancer survivor and leg amputee, Terry Fox, a distance runner and basketball player who lost his right leg to osteosarcoma in 1977. The film tells the story of the lead character’s run across Canada (the second largest country in the world) with the aid of a prosthesis to raise money for cancer research in 1980, though he ultimately had to abandon the run because he had a recurrence of his cancer. He died in 1981 but is thought of as a hero both in Canada and beyond because of his battle against cancer and because of his well-publicized and intensive fundraising efforts. Eric Fryer, the lead actor who portrays Mr. Fox, also lost a leg to cancer.

How it fits the criteria:

Is the amputee character played by an amputee actor? Yes, and the actor also lost his leg in the same way as did the character he portrayed.
Is the character central to the film? This film is a biopic about this character’s life, so yes, definitely.
Is his disability central to the film? From start to finish, absolutely.
Is there an element of romance in this film involving the amputee character? No, this is not a romance.
How important is the romantic element to the plot of the film? Not applicable.

4. 127 Hours (2010)



This film is the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston, who was faced with a choice between his life and his right hand when it was trapped under a boulder while he was climbing alone near Moab, Utah in 2003. Using only the knife that he carried with him, he cut off his own arm above the wrist so that he could get free and climb to safety.

How it fits the criteria:

Is the amputee character played by an amputee actor? No, James Franco is not an amputee in real life.
Is the character central to the film? Yes, it is his story.
Is his disability central to the film? Yes, this is the story of how he came to lose his hand, although the amputation actually occurs late in the film.
Is there an element of romance in this film involving the amputee character? No, except in flashbacks of his past back to before his accident. Most of the film takes place in flashbacks and in the present while he is trapped and alone in the canyon.
How important is the romantic element to the plot of the film? Not really, again, except in flashbacks.


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Re: Top 10 Movies with an Amputee Hero

Post: # 25496Post admin
13 Feb 2018, 18:17

5. Forrest Gump (1994)



This film hardly needs an introduction, but I will give a quick refresher. Forrest Gump tells the story of a learning-disabled man’s somewhat extraordinary life, from his upbringing alongside his closest friend and the love of his life, Jenny, in rural Alabama to his experience as a private in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, to his life in the years after the war, tying the rest of it all together.

But what draws us to Forrest Gump is not its title character but rather the rather memorable character of Lieutenant Dan, Forrest’s commanding officer in Vietnam who loses both legs above the knees, played by the handsome and compelling Gary Sinise. Lieutenant Dan is one of the four most important people in Forrest’s life, the other three being his mother, Jenny, and his best friend, Bubba. We see Lieutenant Dan go from his struggle over being injured and his anger over surviving the war when all of the men in his family before him died in war to becoming Forrest’s partner in the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company to being Forrest’s best man at his wedding.

Lieutenant Dan makes for some very good eye candy, legs and all. His character is about much more than just the wheelchair and the disability, but the story doesn’t shy away from it either. There is a lot of valid criticism of Forrest Gump primarily for its treatment of Forrest and of mental disability; however, Lieutenant Dan is still one of the most memorable (and most attractive) amputee characters out there.

How it fits the criteria:

Is the amputee character played by an amputee actor? No. Gary Sinise is not an amputee, although the clever use of special effects adds an element of realism.
Is the character central to the film? Somewhat. He is not the main character, but he is one of four prominent supporting characters. Points for a strong presence though he was not the main character.
Is his disability central to the film? No, but it is an important element with plenty of screen time.
Is there an element of romance in this film involving the amputee character? Minimally. While still in his wheelchair with long hair and a beard, he has a brief sexual liaison with a woman who may or may not be a prostitute until her friend mistreats Forrest and he kicks her out, but once he has his prostheses and cuts his hair and shaves the beard, they show him with a sweet, supportive wife. Points for including Lieutenant Dan in sexual and romantic situations.
How important is the romantic element to the plot of the film? For Lieutenant Dan, it is not very important at all.

6. Freaks (1932)
This controversial cult classic by filmmaker Tod Browning features several men and women with congenital amputations. Though none of them is a main character, they are prominent supporting characters in this tale set within a traveling carnival.

The main character is a little person named Hans, who is the center of a love triangle involving Frieda, also a little person, who is very much in love with Hans, and the beautiful trapeze artist Cleopatra, who wants Hans for the money he has recently inherited. However, Cleopatra really loves strong-man Hercules, and conspires with him to steal the wealth Hans has inherited.

The “freaks,” who reluctantly accepted Cleopatra as one of them in a very memorable scene where they repeatedly chant “one of us, one of us,” see the pain Cleopatra has caused Hans and decide to take their revenge.

Among the “freaks” are two congenital amputee men (one born without legs and one born without arms or legs) and two congenital amputee women (both born without arms). Most of them really were sideshow performers in the ‘20s and ‘30s, including Johnny Eck, the famous “Half-Man” or “Half-Boy” who was born without legs and walked on his hands, and Prince Randian, who was born in British Guiana without arms or legs in 1871 and displays his talents in the film by doing such things as lighting and smoking a cigarette on his own and carrying a knife in his teeth in the revenge scene.

The film was considered controversial in part because it is thought of as exploiting the disabled actors and actresses who were in the film and also because it dared to show people who really were quite different from the physical norm. However, I find it to be quite the opposite because of its portrayal of these “freaks” as the heroes, or perhaps anti-heroes, of the film while two of the so-called “normal” people are the villains. Also, it did what so few films today even dare to bother with—it used real performers with disabilities and non-standard bodies rather than simply using CGI or special effects to turn a non-disabled actor or actress into a character with a disability (like Gary Sinise in Forrest Gump or Anna-Sophia Robb in Soul Surfer), and it did so cleverly and in a way that was sympathetic to the “freaks” rather than the “normal” people.

How it fits the criteria:

Are the amputee characters played by amputee actors? Yes and yes. Both Johnny Eck and Prince Randian were congenital amputees.
Are the characters central to the film? They are both supporting characters, albeit very visible ones.
Are their disabilities central to the film? Their specific disabilities are not central to the film. However disability and non-standard bodies on the whole are an absolutely vital element in the film.
Is there an element of romance in this film involving the amputee characters? No, neither of the male amputee characters is involved in a romantic relationship in the film. The primary romance in this film involves little people rather than limbless people.
How important is the romantic element to the plot of the film? Not applicable in the case of the amputee characters, although Hans, Cleopatra, and Frieda's romance is central to the film.

7. Crippled Masters (1979)



This Chinese martial arts film tells the story of two men who are crippled by a local crime boss. One man, Tau, has acid poured on his legs, and the other, Lee Ho, has both arms amputated. They are trained by an Old Master and learn, together, to use their fighting skills to defeat their enemy and triumph over evil.

Both roles are played by actors who really are disabled. All too often in films featuring amputee characters, the film starts with the character having four complete limbs, usually the actor’s natural limbs, and then uses special effects to create the amputation, but this one, somewhat uniquely, uses special effects to put arms into the film rather than to take them away. Also, both disabled actors really are martial artists and starred together in three other films after this one: Crippled Heroes (1980), Fighting Life (1981), and Raiders of the Shaolin Temple (1982).

How it fits the criteria:

Is the amputee character played by an amputee actor? Yes, Frankie Shum, who plays Lee Ho, is a congenital double arm amputee due to his mother taking thalidomide. Additionally, Jackie Conn, who plays the other disabled character, Tau, was born with underdeveloped and withered legs.
Is the character central to the film? Lee Ho is one of two main disabled characters in the film. He is one of the Crippled Masters.
Is his disability central to the film? From start to finish, absolutely.
Is there an element of romance in this film involving the amputee character? No, this is not a romance.
How important is the romantic element to the plot of the film? Not applicable.


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Re: Top 10 Movies with an Amputee Hero

Post: # 25497Post admin
13 Feb 2018, 18:23

8. Ganz und Gar



his German film (which sadly does not appear to have an English-subtitled version) stars the handsome and charming David Rott as Torge, a popular young man who loses a leg in an accident and then must rebuild his life and his relationships as he recovers. Through this, he must learn new ways of relating to his friends, his family, and the physical environment around him, and he must make changes in his home life, his work, and his own concept of self. I only understand a very small amount of German, but even so, I was generally able to follow the plot of the film and to enjoy it very much. Plus, Torge is very easy on the eyes.

How it fits the criteria:

Is the amputee character played by an amputee actor? No, David Rott is not an amputee in real life.
Is the character central to the film? Yes, Torge is the main character of the film.
Is his disability central to the film? Yes, very much so.
Is there an element of romance in this film involving the amputee character? Yes, Torge has a romantic relationship post-amputation.
How important is the romantic element to the plot of the film? It is a key element of the latter half of the film.

9. Dreaming of Joseph Lees (1999)



This British film, set in 1958 Somerset and starring Samantha Morton as Eva, the main character of the film; Rupert Graves as her one-legged cousin, Joseph Lees; and Lee Ross as her live-in boyfriend, Harry Flyte. Eva is a girl who “settled” for Harry when she was really in love with Joseph Lees all along, mainly because Harry was there when Joseph was not. When Joseph returns from Italy following his injury in a mining accident and Eva runs into him at a family wedding, she realizes that he shares her attraction and she is caught between her love for and attraction to Joseph and her commitment to the somewhat unbalanced Harry.

How it fits the criteria:

Is the amputee character played by an amputee actor? No, Rupert Graves is not an amputee in real life.
Is the character central to the film? Yes, he is one of two main love interests for Eva and, of course, he is the titular character of the film.
Is his disability central to the film? Yes, it is.
Is there an element of romance in this film involving the amputee character? Yes, he is part of a complicated love triangle with Eva at the center.
How important is the romantic element to the plot of the film? It is the main theme of the film.

10. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)



This classic American post-war film set the bar for its portrayal of the post-war experience of veterans returning home and trying to re-integrate into their old lives. The film portrays the coming home experiences of three very different men, including Homer Parrish, a young sailor who lost both hands during the war and returns home to his family and his fiancée with prosthetic hooks that he has learned to use expertly.

The film interweaves Homer’s story with those of two other veterans, Al Stephenson, and Fred Derry, and it shows his skills with his new prostheses and his upbeat facade juxtaposed with his frustrations and his fears regarding his future and his relationship with his high school sweetheart, Wilma. This film has some very tender and poignant scenes made all the more so by the fact that Harold Russell, the actor who plays Homer, is himself a double amputee, having lost his hands in a training accident during his military service in 1944.

Russell won not one but two Academy Awards for his role in this film: an honorary Oscar for being an inspiration to returning veterans and the 1946 Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, making him the only actor in Oscar history to win two awards for the same role.

How it fits the criteria:

Is the amputee character played by an amputee actor? Yes, Harold Russell is a double amputee in real life.
Is the character central to the film? Yes, he is one of three main characters in the film.
Is his disability central to the film? Yes, it is.
Is there an element of romance in this film involving the amputee character? Yes, he must deal with his relationship with his high school sweetheart and fiancée, Wilma, and his fears about being a good partner to her post-injury. They have one of the most memorable scenes in the entire film, which takes place in Homer’s bedroom toward the end of the film, when Wilma shows him that she accepts him and still loves him exactly as he is.
How important is the romantic element to the plot of the film? It is very important to Homer’s storyline within the film.
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