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October 24, 2010

Movie Review: The Longest Yard (1974)

Football. Football. Football! When there are no games on Sunday, you’ll have to look elsewhere to get that pigskin fix. Look no further than the classic 1974 comedy The Longest Yard. Directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Burt Reynolds (he was seriously funny in his day) The Longest Yard is, quite possibly, one of the best films made about football to date. It was so good, in fact, that the remake starringAdam Sandler, Steve Austin and Goldberg, doesn't hold a candle to the original. Burt (who played for Florida State and was even drafted by the Baltimore Colts) plays Paul Crewe, football superstar sent to prison for stealing his girlfriend’s car. While there, the warden (Eddie Albert) realizes who Crewe is and plans to have him coach a team comprised of prison guards for a competition. This idea doesn’t fly with Crewe and, after being challenged, Crewe says he can put together a team of inmates to actually beat the guards. After seeing a practice and being afraid of how far along the inmates are coming, the warden offers an early release to Crewe if he throws the game. Crewe has a tough decision to make, but the self esteem of his inmate team is more important and the inmate team goes on to play some tough ball.

The Longest Yard works on a few levels. As a comedy, it ranks very high on the laugh scale (if you doubt me, just wait for the world’s funniest “football to the groin” scene in all of film history) but, more subtly, the film works as a pretty powerful drama. We get up close and personal with some prison inmatesthat have given up on everything, until they are presented with a chance to prove themselves on the field.

Even better, there is no lack of real NFL stars filling out the cast. Mike Henry, who played Rasmussen, played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and L. A. Rams; Joe Kapp, who played the Walking Boss, QB’ed for the Minnesota Vikings; Ray Nitschke, playing Bodaanski, was a middle linebacker for theGreen Bay packers and Pervis Atkins, playing Mawabe, played for the L. A. Rams, Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders.

The best part of The Longest Yard is that everyone can enjoy it. Guys, girls… there is something for everyone to like and the film doesn’t give up anything to get there. Every bone crunching joke is played out to perfection, Burt is brilliant and the good guys win. What more can anyone ask for?

Here's a little update that doesn't involve Adam Sandler... enjoy!

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