Author Topic: Football  (Read 411 times)

Corndog

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Re: Football
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2017, 08:59:27 AM »
Wow, I guess I was swept up more by the romanticism of the biopic, which seemed to be a sticking point for you 1SO. I can't really argue with the points you make though, I agree they are there, but I feel we just received them slightly differently. I was much more forgiving and receptive.

As for how to pronounce his name, I always thought it was newt, but the film seems to favor the ka-newt pronunciation. Given the film was apparently made in consult with Rockne's widow, my guess is ka-newt is the more accurate pronunciation, while newt is the Americanization of it.
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Knocked Out Loaded

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Re: Football
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2017, 09:33:20 AM »
Knut is a Nordic name and the only possible pronunciation here is with a clear "K" at the beginning. If you insert an "N" and a "T" in the Ku of Ku Klux Klan you arrive at a pretty accurate pronunciation. End of lesson. :D
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1SO

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Re: Football
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2017, 12:37:38 AM »
Wow, I guess I was swept up more by the romanticism of the biopic, which seemed to be a sticking point for you 1SO. I can't really argue with the points you make though, I agree they are there, but I feel we just received them slightly differently. I was much more forgiving and receptive.

Because of this Marathon, I'm looking at these sports films in terms of what new angle do they put on the game. Big Leaguer, for all its dramatic simplicity, is insightful about baseball tryouts. Knute Rockne is about a person, not a particular aspect of the sport, but in the film Knute changes the game twice and the importance of his contribution is marginalized. Just some more examples of what a saint he was.


I'll probably rewatch Trouble Along the Way. I hardly remember it but it's got John Wayne and Charles Coburn and that's good enough for me.

Corndog

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Re: Football
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2017, 09:25:54 AM »
Trouble Along the Way (Michael Curtiz, 1953)

When researching titles for my Football marathon, I was hoping to find a few like Trouble Along the Way. I had never heard of the film, but quickly saw that Hollywood legend John Wayne starred (seriously, other than a cowboy, a football player/coach is the dream role for Wayne). Michael Curtiz also caught my eye as the director. While Curtiz is not a legendary filmmaker, he would likely fall somewhere in the next few tiers. Curtiz was perhaps more craftsman than most auteurs, but his resume is still impressive with titles like Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Mildred Pierce, and more. He always seemed to have made solid, entertaining films, not dissimilar to Lloyd Bacon (Knute Rockne All American), but also on a much higher level than Bacon. So with the pairing of a director I know and like, and a lead actor I know and love, what could go wrong? Well, of course there was Trouble Along the Way.

As the head of small Catholic college St. Anthony's, Father Burke (Charles Coburn) must find a way to raise enough money to keep the school open. Motivated by having spent his entire life at St. Anthony's, Father Burke turns to football as a way to save the school. But with a terrible team, Father Burke turns to outcast coach Steve Williams (John Wayne). Once a brilliant football mind, he was cast out of big time college ball for recruiting violations. As he starts to revive St. Anthony's, Williams must also contend with Alice Singleton (Donna Reed), who is there to evaluate Steve's ability to care for his daughter after a divorce. Soon enough, St. Anthony's is rolling on the field, but Steve is finding trouble off of it as he once again becomes involved in a recruiting scandal all the while fighting to retain custody of his daughter.

Who knew that a movie directed by Michael Curtiz starring John Wayne playing a football coach could be so....boring? I was really excited at the prospects of this film, and perhaps that's my fault, but what resulted was a rather loud dud. Wayne is fine in the role, it's certainly not his fault the movie is boring, but I think the screenplay and direction was seriously lacking throughout this film. The story just seems to slog along without ever giving any story line its proper due. The characters here are interesting, but with everything seemingly going on, there isn't enough room to hold everyone in a tight film.

The Donna Reed side story especially seemed distracting. Making the struggle between Steve and his daughter and Alice, the agent assigned to rule on the custody case is extremely forced. Alice is inserted only for romance purposes, and the added trouble of Steve dealing with a custody battle is superfluous, even as they try to use it as evidence that Steve is really a good guy. I just wasn't convinced and could have done without it. Father Burke's story was rather fascinating. Perhaps there would have been more time to spend with him and his history with the school, desire to save it, etc. Having gone to Catholic school as a kid, and having known a clergyman who taught at my high school for upwards of 40 years, Burke was one of the more interesting characters to me.

The focus of this marathon is to find interesting movies that evolve around football. The first thing I look for is whether or not the movie is any good (spoiler: I didn't like Trouble Along the Way), but the secondary thing to look for is the football action itself. Here, there is some decent action, but like the first few films in the marathon, much of the action looks more like news reel style than choreographed for the film. The most interesting aspect of this film was the inclusion of recruiting, obviously something specific to college football (and we have yet to have a pro game movie). It's not explored at depth, but adds a new layer. All that said, Trouble Along the Way wasn't a good movie no matter how you inspect it. It may bring some new things to the table in terms of the genre, but ultimately it's not entertaining enough, and that's the most important thing.

** 1/2 - Average
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1SO

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Re: Football
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2017, 11:36:47 AM »
Yep. I didn't remember the movie too well, but your review reminded me, so I think I can skip the re-watch.

Antares

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Re: Football
« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2017, 05:55:55 PM »
I do have the one documentary included here, Undefeated, mostly because it looked too good to leave off.

You have Concussion (2015) at the end of your list, you should also watch PBS' episode of Frontline - League of Denial (2013), same story, but in documentary form.
            
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smirnoff

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Re: Football
« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2017, 10:09:21 PM »
It may be too early for this cliche to have developed yet, but whenever it comes up I want to hear how good the half-time coaches speech was (or whenever that moment happens to occur... it's not always half-time but you know what I mean). :)

I'm also super interested to hear which movies you think cinematically did the best job of capturing the game itself. I mean I imagine most of them will not be overly innovative, but there are others that are extremely stylized in their approach. For instance, I would be impressed if any of them match Any Given Sunday for intensity, or Rudy for emotion. It'll also be interesting to see if there's a marked difference when you get to films made in the 60's and later, which is when Ed Sabol's influence on capturing the game became a thing, or heck, the XFL's influence. You watched that 30 for 30 I think. :)


Corndog

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Re: Football
« Reply #17 on: July 20, 2017, 07:07:05 AM »
It may be too early for this cliche to have developed yet, but whenever it comes up I want to hear how good the half-time coaches speech was (or whenever that moment happens to occur... it's not always half-time but you know what I mean). :)

I'm also super interested to hear which movies you think cinematically did the best job of capturing the game itself. I mean I imagine most of them will not be overly innovative, but there are others that are extremely stylized in their approach. For instance, I would be impressed if any of them match Any Given Sunday for intensity, or Rudy for emotion. It'll also be interesting to see if there's a marked difference when you get to films made in the 60's and later, which is when Ed Sabol's influence on capturing the game became a thing, or heck, the XFL's influence. You watched that 30 for 30 I think. :)

So far the Win one for the Gipper speech is the only one from Knute Rockne All American. I think that one kind of sets the standard.
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Corndog

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Re: Football
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2017, 01:56:32 PM »
Paper Lion (Alex March, 1968)

Okay, let's get back on track. This football marathon was meant to take me right up through the football season and here we are already well into both college and pro seasons and I've just barely gotten started! While it has been a busy summer for me, I have to say Paper Lion was one of the more intriguing titles on my list for a few reasons. First, George Plimpton, who wrote the book about his experiences trying out to be the quarterback for the Detroit Lions, is a wonderful writer. I was exposed to him as part of his commentary within Ken Burns' phenomenal Baseball documentary. Plimpton is eccentric, but his passion and curiosity always shine through. Second, the opportunity to explore what it means to play in the NFL and to make a team. I'm not sure any of us who have never done it could ever fully understand.

George Plimpton (Alan Alda) is a renowned sports writer for Sports Illustrated, specializing in quirky and immersive journalism that includes going three rounds with Sugar Ray Robinson and pitching to the American League All-Star team. Certainly these are not acts that would be recommended for the common man. But Plimpton is not a common man, which is why when his new story idea is to tryout to be an NFL quarterback with the Detroit Lions, he catches hell from just about every member of the team. Plimpton has some natural athletic talent, enough to not be a complete trainwreck, but when the players catch on to his angle, they initially rebuke him, eventually warming to Plimpton's delightful persistence and faithful attitude to his attempt. This is no gimmick, Plimpton wants to make the team.

Anyone who has played high school sports has probably had the thought: how would I cut it at the pro level? For me, a baseball player, it was always "could I make contact against a major league pitcher"? I never played organized football in my life, but I imagine that George Plimpton's "Paper Lion" experiment is the dream of thousands. What would it take to go through an NFL camp? This experiment is much more realistic in the 1960s than it is now, in a time of specialized athletes, advanced training, and players taking it as a full time job. That's not to take away from players from yesteryear, many of whom make appearances here, I am sure they were all supreme athletes and would mop the floor against any lesser competition today, but athletes today are freaks, with lineman easily surpassing 300 pounds. 300 pounds back then was considered too big.

Alda is the only star here, as I mentioned a number of players playing themselves inside the Lions locker room, which is both a blessing and a curse. Alda is just fine as Plimpton, though perhaps not quite as charming. But the players really do show themselves as amateur actors, but their presence is also welcome on the field, where it matters most. This marathon has featured very little in the way of realistic football action, but the bar has now been set. NFL Films became popular in the 1960s, and continues to impress and raise the bar for football photography. I am not sure whether some of their footage was used here, but the football action is certainly realistic, with the scrimmage against the Cardinals being the high point. If anything else, Paper Lion showcases just how brutal the game of football can be.

As a narrative, the story is subpar, with very little focus on Plimpton's talents and his journey to make the team. It is treated as a gimmick, even though Plimpton was dead serious. That doesn't come across as well as I would have hoped. The relationships he forms with his teammates is nice to follow, as some of them appreciate his courage and passion for the project, but in general, the story plays second fiddle to the dream, making the film play more like a television documentary. Today we have Hard Knocks, a documentary showcasing one team's training camp, the star players, and the fringe players struggling the make the team. For its era, Paper Lion is impressive, albeit lacking in a formed narrative. For now, it stands as the best example of football action to date. We'll see it that can be surpassed.

*** - Good
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Corndog

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Re: Football
« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2017, 02:02:39 PM »
It'll also be interesting to see if there's a marked difference when you get to films made in the 60's and later, which is when Ed Sabol's influence on capturing the game became a thing

Accurate.
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