The Longest Yard (1974 film)

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The Longest Yard
Longest yard 1974.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Aldrich
Produced byAlbert S. Ruddy
Screenplay byTracy Keenan Wynn
Story byAlbert S. Ruddy
StarringBurt Reynolds
Eddie Albert
Music byFrank De Vol
CinematographyJoseph F. Biroc
Edited byMichael Luciano
Production
company
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release dates
  • August 21, 1974 (1974-08-21)
Running time121 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$2.9 million[2]
Box office$43,008,075[3]
 
  (Redirected from Paul Crewe)
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The Longest Yard
Longest yard 1974.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Aldrich
Produced byAlbert S. Ruddy
Screenplay byTracy Keenan Wynn
Story byAlbert S. Ruddy
StarringBurt Reynolds
Eddie Albert
Music byFrank De Vol
CinematographyJoseph F. Biroc
Edited byMichael Luciano
Production
company
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release dates
  • August 21, 1974 (1974-08-21)
Running time121 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$2.9 million[2]
Box office$43,008,075[3]

The Longest Yard is a 1974 American comedy film directed by Robert Aldrich. Written by Tracy Keenan Wynn based on a story by producer Albert S. Ruddy, the film follows inmates at a prison who play football against their guards. Burt Reynolds portrayed Paul "Wrecking" Crewe and the coach Nate Scarborough in the 2005 remake.

The 1974 original was also the basis for the 2001 film Mean Machine (a shortened version of the title used for the original's UK release), starring Vinnie Jones as Danny Meehan, based on the character of Paul Crewe, and featuring soccer instead of American football.

Green Bay Packers legend Ray Nitschke appeared in the 1974 version as did the country music legend George Jones.[4]

Plot[edit]

Paul "Wrecking" Crewe, a former star pro football quarterback, walks out on his wealthy girlfriend Melissa (Anitra Ford) in Palm Beach, Florida. He takes her Maserati-engined Citroën SM without permission and leads police on a car chase, choreographed by Hal Needham. Crewe is eventually caught and sentenced to 18 months in Citrus State Prison.

The convicts disrespect Crewe because he was dismissed from the National Football League for point shaving. A sadistic warden, Rudolph Hazen, is a football fanatic who manages a semi-pro team made up of prison guards who wants Crewe to help coach the team and clinch a championship.

Responding to pressure from the guards' leader and coach, Captain Wilhelm Knauer, Crewe initially refuses, but eventually relents and agrees to form a prisoner team to play the guards' team in an exhibition "tune-up" game. Crewe forms a team that includes Samson, a 7-foot-tall (2.1 m) former professional weightlifter, and Connie Shokner, a serial killer and martial arts expert.

With the help of the clever Caretaker, former professional player Nate Scarborough and the first black inmate willing to play, "Granny" Granville, plus long-term prisoner Pop — and with an assist from the warden's amorous secretary, Miss Toot -- Crewe molds a team nicknamed the "Mean Machine". He agrees to play quarterback himself. After witnessing "Granny" being harassed by some of the prison guards without breaking, the black inmates decide to volunteer their services and join the team. Unger, one of the prison trustees, persistently asks Crewe if he can replace Caretaker as manager of the team, which Crewe refuses to do. In retaliation, Unger attempts to kill Crewe by fashioning a home-made bomb from a light bulb filled with a combustible fluid, designed to detonate inside Crewe's cell when he turns on the light. However, Caretaker is killed instead when he enters Crewe's cell to retrieve some papers, and Unger closes the cell door, locking him in and preventing rescue. Crewe's teammates are given a stern lecture from Hazen about the consequences of any attempted escape after the game. Afterward, Crewe re-energizes the team with a surprise - presenting them with professional uniforms (stolen from the guards by Caretaker before he was killed). They charge onto the field, to the shock of the guards and Hazen, in their new uniforms.

The "Mean Machine" starts out surprisingly well, and at halftime the game is close, with the guards leading, 15-13. Hazen threatens Crewe as an accessory to Caretaker's murder unless Crewe loses the game to the guards by at least 21 points. Crewe reluctantly agrees, but obtains a promise from Hazen that if he cooperates, the other prisoners will not be harmed.

Hazen double-crosses him, telling Captain Knauer to order his players to "inflict as much physical punishment on the prisoners as humanly possible" as soon as they are ahead by 21 points. Crewe makes deliberate mistakes, putting the "Mean Machine" down by more than three touchdowns, 35-13, then takes himself out of the game. Teammates feel betrayed. The guards then take out their anger on the prisoners, causing several injuries.

A depressed Crewe goes back into the game. At first, the prisoners provide him with no protection or co-operation, but he convinces them of his change of heart. The "Mean Machine" gets back into the game, trailing 35-30. Knowing that Crewe needs help, Nate, despite his bad knee, scores one of the touchdowns, but is immediately cut down at the knees by guard Bogdanski, crippling him. As he is wheeled off the field, Nate tells Crewe to "screw Hazen" and win the game. They turn the tables on the guards in terms of the violence, including a clothesline from Samson that apparently breaks a guard's neck.

Crewe scores the winning touchdown with no time left, and the "Mean Machine" wins, 36-35. As the prisoners celebrate, Hazen is furious. Crewe walks across the field in what appears to be an attempt to escape. The warden orders Knauer: "Shoot him! Kill him!" A moment before being shot, Crewe bends over to pick up the football. Knauer disgustedly looks at the warden and says, "Game ball." Crewe walks up to Hazen, hands him the ball and tells him, "Stick this in your trophy case."

Cast[edit]

A number of the actors had previously played professional football. Henry played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Los Angeles Rams. Kapp played quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. Nitschke was a middle linebacker for the Green Bay Packers who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978, four years after release, and Atkins played for the Los Angeles Rams, the Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders. Also appearing as prisoners are Wheelwright, who played with the New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints, and Ogden, who played with the St. Louis Cardinals, the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons and the Chicago Bears. Sixkiller was a collegiate star as a quarterback for the University of Washington Huskies from 1970-1972, and briefly played pro in the defunct World Football League. Reynolds himself had played college football for Florida State University and was a draft pick to the Baltimore Colts.

Reception[edit]

The film was popular and earned over $22 million in US theatrical rentals.[2] The film received positive reviews, currently holding an 81% rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.[5]

Remakes[edit]

The film has been remade twice.

In 2001 as Mean Machine starring Vinnie Jones, taking place in England and changing the sport from American Football to Association Football.

In 2005 as The Longest Yard starring Adam Sandler and featuring Burt Reynolds in a supporting role.

Awards[edit]

The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy in 1975. Burt Reynolds was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, Eddie Albert was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, and James Hampton was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "THE LONGEST YARD (X)". British Board of Film Classification. September 27, 1974. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Alain Silver and James Ursini, Whatever Happened to Robert Aldrich?, Limelight, 1995 p 292
  3. ^ "Box Office Information for The Longest Yard". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 17, 2012. 
  4. ^ Gerhard Falk (2005), Football And American Identity, Haworth Press, ISBN 978-0-7890-2527-2 
  5. ^ The Longest Yard at Rotten Tomatoes

External links[edit]