IT’S SURVIVAL OF THE FIERCEST AND FUNNIEST!
Former football pro Paul Crewe (Burt Reynolds) ends up in prison in Georgia after stealing his girlfriend’s car and resisting arrest; the warden (Eddie Albert) sees an opportunity in Crewe’s arrival… Director Robert Aldrich made The Dirty Dozen (1967), which is why he was the right one to helm this entertaining box office hit about a motley gang of convicts who face a team of guards in a heavily publicized game. Blending drama and comedy in an effective, unsentimental way, the movie also has a terrific opening, an action-filled car chase that introduces Reynolds as a new star for the ’70s. Colorful supporting cast, and a very memorable end scene.
1974-U.S. 123 min. Color. Produced by Albert S. Ruddy. Directed by Robert Aldrich. Screenplay: Tracy Keenan Wynn. Editing: Michael Luciano. Cast: Burt Reynolds (Paul Crewe), Eddie Albert (Rudolph Hazen), Ed Lauter (Wilhelm Knauer), Michael Conrad, Jim Hampton, Bernadette Peters… Richard Kiel.
Trivia: Several of the actors have played professional football, including Reynolds. Remade as Mean Machine (2001) and The Longest Yard (2005).
Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture (Comedy/Musical).
Last word: “‘The Longest Yard’ was wonderful for me because I got to do what I always wanted, which was play football and get paid for it! I did have a couple of problems because we had four pro football players in the picture that thought it was their job to kill the movie actor. Ray Nitschke used to tackle me, take my head off and run with it towards the other end zone. He literally would hit me so hard. At the end of the day, (this is what I live for), they’d say, ‘That’s a wrap.’ I’d be limping back to the locker rooms. He’d come up beside me and say, ‘You’re doing great, kid.’ That I will take to the bank. More than any award, any Golden Globe, any Oscar nomination – I will take those words to the bank.” (Reynolds, Sarah’s Backstage Pass)