THE LONGEST YARD
Review by Gordon Justesen
Burt Reynolds, Eddie Albert, Ed Lauter, Michael Conrad, James Hampton
Director: Robert Aldrich
Audio: Dolby Mono, French Dolby Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 121 Minutes
Release Date: May 10, 2005
“I think I broke his f***in’ neck.”
“I think he broke his f***in’ neck.”
“Get the ambulance! I think he broke his f***in’
“See, I told you I broke his f***kin’ neck!”
With the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard, starring
Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and Burt Reynolds, to kick off in theaters this summer,
what a better time than now to reflect on the original comedy gem from 1974.
Burt Reynolds was one of the biggest movie stars during the 70s, and the
movie to forever ignite his movie legacy is The Longest Yard, which is
also one his best films ever. Although he had already become a noticeable movie
star following such films as Deliverance and White Lightening,
this was the first movie where Reynolds was able to bring the full package to
the table. Added to that, for a movie made in 1974, the raw and edgy comedy of
the movie made it one ahead of its time.
The film is an all out, unapologetic, no-holds-barred sports comedy filled
with some of the biggest lowlifes you’ll ever meet in any movie. Reynolds
plays Paul Crewe, a pro football has been who is living a lavish, but ultimately
depressing, and alcohol-induced, life as a result of being kicked out of the NFL
for points shaving. After roughing up a woman, stealing a car and leading police
on a wild chase, Crewe is thrown in the slammer.
Serving a term of 18-36 months in the Florida State penitentiary, Crewe
isn’t exactly met with enthusiasm by the fellow inmates. There are those who
simply don’t like him, and there are those who appreciate his sports
celebrity, but despise what he did to get thrown out of the league. Crewe
himself is simply a wise ass who could care less of what anyone thinks,
something that Reynolds (a college ball player in real life) throws into the
role with effortless charm.
But there is one person in the prison who is fascinated by the star
quarterback, and that is Warden Hazen (Eddie Albert). A fan of the game, Hazen
insists that Crewe take over coaching duties for his semi-pro team, consisting
of the prison guards. After refusing, Crewe is thrown into swamp reclamation.
He lasts only two days before deciding to change his mind about the offer.
The quarterback says he will accept the position, but on an entirely different
condition; that he put together and coach of team made up of prison inmates. The
Warden sees no problem, especially when he gets the idea of structuring a no
rules match between the cons and the guards.
Assigning fellow inmate Caretaker (James Hampton) as his assistant coach,
Crewe finds it easy in recruiting potential players. The reason for this is
quite simple; the cons want an easy crack at the guards as means of obvious
payback. And since many of the recruits happen to convicted murderers, Crewe
thinks his team has a pretty good chance of claiming victory. Crewe soon forms a
team dubbed the Mean Machine.
As the game approaches, Crewe is confronted by Hazen, who tells him that
his team will in fact lose to the guards. He wants Crewe to accept the rule, or
otherwise suffer an extended prison sentence. Since this echoes the very thing
that resulted in his banishment from his profession, it only escalates his
desire to take home the glory.
The football match-up, which accompanies the last 45 minutes of the movie,
is a remarkably executed sequence. It provides many laughs, while at the same
time providing endless bone-crunching moments guaranteed to make any sensitive
viewer feel the pain. Without giving away the outcome of the game, I’ll just
mention that the final moments in the film, particularly the dialogue, is just
Bottom line; there’s hardly been another film of its kind to match the
sheer brutal physical contact and pure hilarity of The Longest Yard. For
Burt Reynolds, the film represents a career highlight, and for sports comedies,
it’s a classic of gargantuan proportions.
This is the second go-around, or second down I should say, for The
Longest Yard on DVD. No matter how much age a film has, some are better
mastered than others, and this must have been a case of trying to master film
stock that simply couldn’t be made perfect. I can safely say that this
anamorphic offering from Paramount is about as good as you’re going to find in
terms of video presentation. Having said that, this is actually a decent looking
disc, as images are nice and clear for a good portion of the film. Several image
flaws do find their way in the presentation, most of them in the latter portion
of the movie.
a Mono track, you simply know what to expect. Despite the limitations, the disc
could definitely sound less than it does. Dialogue is clean and clear enough,
and the game sequence has enough energy to keep you hooked in, thanks to the
new Lockdown Edition does score with some good kickin’ extras. To start with,
there’s a commentary track with Burt Reynolds and writer/producer Albert S.
Ruddy. Two featurettes; “Doing Time on The Longest Yard” and “Unleashing
the Mean Machine”, as well as an exclusive look at 2005 remake. Also included
is the original theatrical trailer, as well as the trailer for the remake, and
additional bonus previews.
included is a ticket for $5.00 off admission for The Longest Yard, which
lands in theaters on May 27.