Dubsism

What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions

Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies – Volume 79: “Kinky Boots”

  • Today’s Movie: Kinky Boots
  • Year of Release: 2005
  • Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joel Edgerton, Sarah-Jane Potts
  • Director: Julian Jarrold

This movie is not on my list of essential films.

NOTE: This installment of Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies is being done as part of something called the The Third Annual Broadway Blog-A-Thon Hosted by Taking Up Room. This is the second time I’ve done one of her Broadway events and hopefully it won’t be the last!

You can see all the contributions to this blog-a-thon here:

The Story:

Harvey Fierstein scored his second big Broadway hit with “Kinky Boots,” with this tale of a drag queen who becomes involved a failing English shoe factory. Fierstein had previously penned La Cage Aux Folles in 1983, and 30 years later, “Kinky Boots” took “The Great White Way” by storm.  The Broadway score was done by 1980s pop idol Cyndi Lauper; she became the first solo woman to win a Tony Award for Best Score.

Kinky Boots is a comedy set in Northampton, a sleepy town nestled in the British East Midlands. The plot is based on a true story centered on a shoe factory’s young, strait-laced owner named Charlie Price (played by Joel Edgerton). The factory has been foundering since the death of Charlie’s father.

While on a business trip to London to sell the company’s extra stock, Charlie encounters a woman being harassed by drunken hoodlums and comes to her defense. Charlie gets knocked unconscious and wakes up in the backstage dressing room of drag queen named Lola (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor). Being a shoemaker, Charlie is intrigued to find the low level of quality in the shoes worn by the drag queens. He find the heels snap off easily, and that they need to be made in a greater range of sizes…women’s shoes made in men’s sizes.

Prompted by one of his employees named Lauren (played by Sarah-Jane Potts), Charlie comes up with an idea to save the factory from it’s financial difficulties. The plan is to tackle a new market by making custom footwear for drag queens, but this creates friction with those who have become accustomed to the factory’s usual production of men’s dress shoes. Despite that, Charlie recruits Lauren to assist him in designing a high-heeled boot aimed at drag queens.

When their original attempts are met with Lola’s disapproval, Charlie and Lauren bring him into the business as a consultant. At first, this only creates more consternation as a great number of the employees are not exactly comfortable with Lola’s presence and/or the direction of the factory.

Another casualty of the change is Charlie’s relationship with his fiancée, Nicola (played by Jemima Rooper). As their relationship deteriorates, she begins to favor his selling the factory to a real estate developer. Things begin to improve as Lola tones dials her personality down a notch, but at the same time matters go completely awry when Charlie is invited to showcase the new boots in Milan. The resulting strain explodes the dynamic in the factory, almost all of the workers and Lola walk out on Charlie.

The explosion reverberates when Nicola arrives at the factory furious that Charlie has taken out a second mortgage on their house to fund his attempt to save the factory. Now Nicola insists that he sell the factory, but Charlie is determined to save it and the jobs of his employees. The resulting argument ends with Nicola leaving Charlie. But this fight was also inadvertently broadcast on the factory’s public-address system. This causes a unification between Lola and the factory workers as the rally to get the boots ready in time Charlie and Lauren to get to Milan.

But things get off the rails again when Charlie sees Nicola with another man, and in frustration he lashes out at Lola.  Lola quits, which leaves Charlie with no one to model the boots.  Since he has no choice, Charlie mounts a clumsy attempt to model the boots himself; he ends up flat on his face. Just then Lola brings a cavalry of drag queens to the rescue; they pull off a spectacular runway show which saves the day.

The Hidden Sports Analogy:

Where would Charlie and his shoe factory be without the “Kinky Boots?” Similarly, where would the athletic world be without the development of the athletic shoe? The most famous such shoe might be Nike’s “Air Jordans,” but the one which remains the best-selling to this day is also the most iconic…the Converse “All-Star” (also known as “Chuck Taylors”).

Before he was “The Rifleman,” Chuck Connors was a “Chuck Taylor”-wearing Boston Celtic.

The actual Chuck Taylor.

Wilt Chamberlain with his “Chucks.”

The Converse “All-Star” made it’s initial appearance in 1917. In no time at all, it became the top-selling shoe for basketball.  In 1921, the Converse Rubber Shoe Company hired a semi-professional basketball player named Chuck Taylor.  Within a year of Taylor’s arrival, the company had adopted his suggestions for the shoe, including changes to the design to provide enhanced support.

Another addition was to add the distinctive patch on the ankle with the star-shaped logo. Once Taylor’s signature was added to the “All-Star” logo, they forever became known as “Chuck Taylor All-Stars.” This turned the Converse Rubber Shoe Company from a business primarily known as manufacturer of rain boots to the word’s first mass-producer of athletic shoes. The “Chuck Taylors” became the de facto shoe of basketball in America.  In fact, when the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League merged in the late 1940s to form today’s National Basketball Association, it’s players were shod almost exclusively in “Chucks.”

You might be cool, but you’ll never be “First American to orbit Earth chillin’ in Chuck Taylors” cool.

But “Chucks” transcended the world of sports.  While you would be hard-pressed to see them on a basketball court today, you can see “Chucks” almost everywhere else. Astronaut John Glenn made them flat-out “cool.” In the 1970s, rock icons The Ramones made “Chucks” the official shoe of the “punk rock” movement. In what may be the most-famous “training scene” in sports movie history, pay attention to what is on Rocky Balboa’s feet as he runs up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in “Rocky.”

By the time 2003 rolled around, Nike knew they couldn’t beat Converse, so they purchased their rivals.  To this day, Nike aggressively markets the original athletic shoe invented by Marquis Converse and perfected by Chuck Taylor.  Nobody know the exact number, but current estimates place the number of “Chucks” sold world-wide at over 600 million.

The Moral of the Story:

True classics never die.


Check out Dubsism’s Movies and Blog-A-Thons page for a full schedule of projects past, present, and future!

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About J-Dub

What your view of sports would be if you had too many concussions

8 comments on “Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies – Volume 79: “Kinky Boots”

  1. Pingback: Broadway Bound 2020: Day Two – Taking Up Room

  2. John L. Harmon
    June 6, 2020

    A fascinating history of kinky Boots and sports shoes.

    I have only seen the film of kinky Boots but now I’m curious about the Broadway version. If Cyndi lauper wrote the songs, there’s got to be some good stuff in there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating! You have opened my eyes to two areas of footwear I had not investigated before now as Kinky Boots just looked loud (grumpy old gal here) and sneakers is sneakers to this uninformed dweeb.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Those old Cons commercials with Magic and Bird back in the day were classic.

    Prior to the swoosh, Converse pretty much had every basketball player in the game marketing their product. The merging of Jordan with Nike, putting them on the map in a BIG way, is a pretty fascinating story.

    It’s gotta be the shoes.

    Like

    • J-Dub
      June 8, 2020

      Not only that, but the marriage of Nike and Jordan basically exiled Adidas from the NBA.

      Like

  5. rebeccadeniston
    June 9, 2020

    Wow, I liked that you related the boots to Converse–that was really interesting. I’m kinda partial to Adidas myself, but Converse is so iconic. Very cool. Thanks again for joining the blogathon with this great review! :-)

    Like

    • J-Dub
      June 9, 2020

      Glad to know your enjoyed it! This is why back in the day when I was doing a podcast I said Dubsism was where you could more things by accident than other places by design 😆🤓

      Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on June 6, 2020 by in Movies, Sports and tagged , , .

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