Monday, January 31, 2011

THE LONGEST YARD (1974) - Robert Aldrich

Since the Super Bowl is but one Sunday away, I figured there was no better way to run down the clock than with a prison-football movie I hadn't seen, the original The Longest Yard. Yes, it's the same old underdog sports story done up in prison blues, but Longest Yard still made for enjoyable Sunday viewing. You have to admire the fact that the Big Game the film leads up to is in no way used as cover for an elaborate cell-block escape. It's just a football game and, more than that, a reason for the cons to hit the guards HARD (often in the gonads). Nothing more, nothing less. Ah, the '70s...gotta love their refreshingly low-key ambitions.

There is a minor attempt at character redemption for Burt Reynolds' ex-pro football point-shaving QB, but, really, that's perfunctory and almost negligible. What's NOT negligible and most enjoyable about the original Longest Yard? 1.) Teen Wolf's Dad (James Hampton) is in it! 2.) Jaws (Richard Kiel) from Moonraker is in it! 3.) You learn how to kill a fellow convict with a light bulb 4.) Bernadette Peters' bulbous beehive, which prompts Reynolds' best line in the movie: "You ever find any dead spiders in that thing?"

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