Dennis Quaid: 'Long Game' is 'about the American dream'

Dennis Quaid stars in "The Long Game." File Photo by James Atoa/UPI
1 of 5 | Dennis Quaid stars in "The Long Game." File Photo by James Atoa/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, April 12 (UPI) -- Dennis Quaid said his new movie, The Long Game, in theaters Friday, is about much more than golf.

The film tells the true story of Mexican-American golf caddies in 1955 who built their own golf course in Del Rio, Texas, when an exclusive country club would not let them play.


"It's about the American dream," Quaid told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "It's about fitting in. It's an underdog story."

Quaid plays Frank Mitchell, a member of the Del Rio Country Club. Frank gets high school superintendent JB Peña (Jay Hernandez) a meeting at the club, but it still won't allow a Mexican-American to join.

The club will hire Mexican American students as caddies, but won't let them play on the course, either. Many of those caddies are students at Peña's school.

After building their nine-hole course to practice, the students form a competitive golf team, the Mustangs. Frank uses his connections to help them enter tournaments, competing against teams from Del Rio Country Club.


Quaid said the country club's resistance to the Mustangs gave The Long Game a lot of drama off the golf course.

"Sports movies have a lot of drama," Quaid said. "I think sports movies have to be about something more than the sport. Otherwise, they'd just watch a game on television."

Quaid is now a veteran of sports movies from football dramas Everybody's All American and Any Given Sunday to the true stories The Rookie, The Express and last year's The Hill.

Quaid said films like The Rookie, about 35-year-old rookie pitcher Jim Morris, also were about more than baseball.

"It was about second chances in life," Quaid said of The Rookie.

The Mustangs entered the Texas State Championship in 1957. In 2012, the team was inducted into the Latino International Sports Hall of Fame for its performance in that championship.

"Lo and behold, they won the Texas State Championship their very first year at the golf course that they couldn't play on," Quaid said. "That's a great American story to me, and it's time to tell it."

Quaid said the Mustangs' perseverance set a positive example in a sport from which predominantly White authorities tried to exclude them.


"This is one of the bricks that these boys put into the building that builds this big melting pot of America," Quaid said. "It's important to hold onto all of your singular culture and history because that's what makes America great."

Though the Mustangs face racism on the course and in the country clubs, Quaid said The Long Game is not a story about racism. He said America has a history of fearing others, but also a history of people overcoming those fears.

"We've come a long way and we may have a ways to go," Quaid said. "It's learning to live with each other and help each other."

An avid daily golfer, Quaid said he would hit balls between takes on the set In the film, His character, Frank, focuses on coaching the Mustangs on their swings.

Though Frank was an actual person in Del Rio, who served as a captain in World War II, commanding Peña, there was not much historical material to research about him. The Long Game is based on Humberto Garcia's account of events in his book, Mustang Miracle.


Having played historical figures in sports movies and films like The Right Stuff and MIdway, Quaid said he attempts to find the unique point of view of each character.

"No matter what the outside world might think of them, I tell them from their point of view because we don't look at ourselves as heroes or villains," he said. "Depending on the case, we're living inside our heads."

In films like Wyatt Earp and The Alamo, Quaid played historical legends Doc Holliday and Sam Houston, respectively. He said he suspected those people would not have considered themselves legendary in their time.

"I think they'd be quite surprised, to tell the truth, that they were remembered," Quaid said.

The true story of The Long Game was not one with which Quaid was familiar before making the film. Learning the story, Quaid said it moved him.

"It's the story of overcoming and wel- deserved overcoming," Quaid said. "It hits the heart."

Latest Headlines