Movie Review: The Longest Yard (1974)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1974 sports comedy starring Burt Reynolds and Eddie Albert.

Synopsis: Disgraced former professional quarterback Paul “Wrecking” Crewe is sentenced to 18 months in prison. The prison’s football-crazed warden convinces Crewe to form a team made up of prisoners so his semi-professional guard team can play an exhibition game against them in preparation for their upcoming season. However, when he realizes Crewe’s team may actually be better than the guards’ team, the warden puts pressure on Crewe to throw the game.

Review

I’ve seen this movie a few times before. But, it had, admittedly, been a while since I watched the entire film and, at least over the course of the past couple years; have sadly seen the crappy Adam Sandler remake more. That’s why, when I had an opportunity to watch this movie last night while waiting for my wife to get done with work, I did just that. And, I wasn’t disappointed.

The thing that I really like about this movie is, even though it is considered a comedy, there’s a good mix of drama and overall seriousness in it as well as the inmates are forced to deal with a sadistic and opportunistic warden (Albert) to arrogant and racist guards and even one of their own giving information to the other side. While the jokes are still funny, the dramatic portions of the film are what make it as memorable as it is. And, that is something I do think the 2005 remake missed.

Also helping this movie is some very solid performances from the cast. Reynolds earns his top billing status as Crewe and Albert (who I still picture as Green Acre’s Oliver Wendall Douglas whenever I see him in a film role) does a great job playing the warden in a way that makes you think he’s on the prisoners’ side at first, something that is a big deal because it makes it much easier to hate him when his true colors are shown. In fact, even though Reynolds is the star, I don’t think this movie would have been anywhere near as good without Albert playing his nemesis.

Eddie Albert
Eddie Albert
Pixabay

Even the football game was fun to watch, something, ironically, isn’t always the case with sports movies (many focus on the drama off the field and don’t really pay that much attention to the on-the-field details).  There were funny moments, dramatic moments and even some suspense. Even though (from watching the movie as many times as I have) I knew how it was going to end, I can honestly say I don’t think the ending is anywhere near as predictable as I’ve seen in plenty of other, similar films.

Final Opinion

The remake of this movie does not do it justice and, if you haven’t seen the film before or only have seen the Adam Sandler version, I highly recommend taking the time to find the movie and watch it (unedited) from start to finish.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 07/23/2015, StevenHelmer
 
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happynutritionist on 07/23/2015

This is a good movie, I hadn't thought about it in a long time, but do remember it.

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