True Blue (1996 film)

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True Blue
True Blue Cover.jpg
Directed by Ferdinand Fairfax
Produced by Allan Scott
Written by Rupert Walters
Daniel Topolski
Patrick Robinson
Starring Dominic West
Johan Leysen
Geraldine Somerville
Nicholas Rowe
Bill Nighy
Distributed by FilmFour Productions
Release date
  • 1996 (1996)
Running time
110 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget ₤3.5 million[1]

True Blue is a 1996 British sport drama film based on the book True Blue: The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny by Daniel Topolski and Patrick Robinson. It follows the 1987 Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race and the disagreement amongst the Oxford team known as the "Oxford mutiny".[2] For the US DVD release by Miramax, the film was retitled Miracle at Oxford.[3]


True Blue is a film adaptation of Topolski's book of the same name. Although names and events were changed, it tells the story of the 1987 Oxford Cambridge Boat Race, from the perspective of Topolski and Macdonald. Directed by Ferdinand Fairfax, this low-budget film was made by Film4 Productions, starring Dominic West, and Josh Lucas.

The film opens with a fancied Oxford crew losing by 'almost seven lengths' to Cambridge. Macdonald and Ross (a sobriquet for the real life Chris Clark) are seen in the losing crew. The crew's various reactions are shown, and later Clark pledges to bring some American oarsman over to get one of the famous Oxford Blades.

The film cuts to the next year where the recent world champion Daniel Warren (Dan Lyons) arrives in Oxford with some other Americans. Not all are happy about the new arrivals, however, and are concerned for their seats in the boats. We then see a montage of training sequences before the Fours Head of the River Race, for which the top boat is changed at the last minute at the instigation of Warren, prompting fury from the ejected crew member. The crew goes on to finish 28th, a very unimpressive placing for a Varsity squad boat.

Topolski is then shown berating the squad, and the other coaches share concerns about the form of the athletes, particularly Ross. Topolski decides to look at the results of the Trial Eights race, which initially looks good, but is marred by a clash of blades.

The Americans later rebel against the coaches and say they will walk out if Ross is not selected. In the end none of the Americans row and Topolski goes with a less experienced crew. After initial tensions the crew comes together and trains well for the last few weeks before the race. On race day the crew wins by around four lengths.


  1. ^ Alexander Walker, Icons in the Fire: The Rise and Fall of Practically Everyone in the British Film Industry 1984-2000, Orion Books, 2005 p270
  2. ^ Baker, Andrew (6 Apr 2007). "When mutineers hit the Thames". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  3. ^ True Blue (1996), retrieved 2017-07-31 

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