It was 1973. We were was waist-deep in Watergate. Spiro Agnew was about to resign. The OPEC-fueled energy crisis loomed. Americans needed a diversion. Enter Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King. Fast-forward nearly half a century, and boy could we use some escapism today.
That said, here’s the first trailer for Battle of the Sexes, Fox Searchlight recounting of the tennis match that pitted the tennis pro/hustler and admitted male chauvinist Riggs (Steve Carell) against the world’s greatest female player in King (Emma Stone), who also happened to be a devout feminist. Their faceoff on the court was equal parts sport and theater, held in the sprawling Astrodome with a global TV audience of some 90 million. And what it meant for women’s tennis — and women’s sports in general — cannot be overstated.
“I’m not saying that women don’t belong on the court,” the sideburned Riggs tells a TV interviewer, setting up yet another sexist crack. “Who’d pick up the balls otherwise?” Oof. “There’s not a single thing I don’t hate about Bobby Riggs,” his opponent admits. Advantage King.
Little Miss Sunshine‘s Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris were in the chair — director’s, not umpire’s — for Battle of the Sexes, and Slumdog Millionaire Oscar winner Simon Beaufoy scripted it. The film also stars Elisabeth Shue, Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming, Andrea Riseborough, Eric Christian Olsen, Natalie Morales, Austin Stowell, Wallace Langham, Jessica McNamee, Mickey Sumner and Bill Pullman.
Check out the trailer, dig the period-correct costumes, atmosphere and Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend/Loves Lies Bleeding” — presumably on 8-track — and the poster below. Tell us what you think: Is it a winner or an unforced error?