The Longest Yard (1974) – Golden Globe The Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

The Golden Globe winner in the category “The Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy”, this is another cult classic of the sports film genre, one of the biggest hits directed by pugnacious and caustic Robert Aldrich. The plot is characteristic of Hollywood, the center of the story being a prison football match between an underdog team of bandits and criminals against the team of their corrupt guards. Burt Reynolds is Paul Crewe: a former superstar quarterback with a problematic past and a devil-may-care attitude, who winds up in a Florida prison after crashing his girlfriend’s car. Prison warden Hazen (Eddie Albert) is a sadistic puppet master, obsessed with power, and a football fanatic who forces Crew to train other inmates to play against his own team made up of cops. The largest part of the film consists of Crewe recruiting candidates for his “Mean Machine” and finding clever ways to train and motivate them. The situation is further complicated when Crewe is threatened by Hazen, who wants to frame him for murder unless Crewe deliberately loses the game. The football game itself consumes nearly a third of the picture and is one of the most gratifying sporting events ever put on film, with the convicts using every dirty trick they know to beat up the guards.

When it comes to remakes, the 2001 British film with Vinnie Jones The Mean Machine is interesting enough, while the 2005 Adam Sandler movie should be recommended only to the already verified Adam Sandler fans.

The Longest Yard opened the door for many more sports movies in the years to come, but it is not worth a look just as a piece of film history. Exploring the brutality inherent in both the American penal system and football, Aldrich uses the prison setting to make an interesting political point. But most importantly, this dark comedy is tough, dirty, fierce and funny. In a word: cool.

The Longest Yard (1974)
The Longest Yard poster Rating: 7.1/10 (13,175 votes)
Director: Robert Aldrich
Writer: Tracy Keenan Wynn (screenplay), Albert S. Ruddy (story)
Stars: Burt Reynolds, Eddie Albert, Ed Lauter, Michael Conrad
Runtime: 121 min
Rated: R
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
Released: 30 Aug 1974
Plot: A sadistic warden asks a former pro quarterback, now serving time in his prison, to put together a team of inmates to take on (and get pummeled by) the guards.

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