Hollywood featured college football until the late 1940s. That is because since the very first game in 1869 (more like soccer) when Rutgers defeated Princeton, six goals to four, the country was taken by storm with the collegiate game. The first game that most resembled football (more like rugby than soccer) was played between Harvard University and Tufts University on June 4, 1875. Yale rugby coach Walter Camp is credited with coming up with the rules for football as we know it today in the latter part of the century. The NCAA was created in 1910 to enhance the rules and make the game safer for its players. The first bowl game was the 1902 Rose Bowl with Michigan defeating Stanford 49-0. A second game was not played annually until 1916 because of the lopsided score. In 1906 the forward pass was legalized. In 1921, one of the greatest upsets in history occurred when Centre defeated Harvard 6-0. The first live radio broadcast of a college football game was played at Forbes Field, Pittsburgh PA on October 8, 1921. Harold W. Arlin announced the game on KDKA with Pitt defeating West Virginia 21-13. The 1922 Rose Bowl ended 0-0 between Washington & Jefferson and California, the only scoreless tie in Rose Bowl history.
The college game reached its peak on Red Grange Day held Oct. 18, 1924 in Champaign, Ill. at the university’s newly dedicated Memorial Stadium. In the game, Grange led the Illini to a 39-14 homecoming victory over Michigan (who had allowed just four touchdowns in the previous two seasons) in the greatest individual performance in college football history. In the first 12 minutes, he ran for 262 yards and scored each of the first four times he touched the ball including a kickoff return for 95 yards. With a big lead, he was rested until the third quarter when he rushed 13 yards for his fifth touchdown. In the fourth quarter, he passed to Marion Leonard for another score. Final numbers: 466 yards of total offense including six passes for 64 yards. Famous sports writer Grantland Rice named him the "Galloping Ghost." Grange later stated in a 1974 interview that it was sportswriter Warren Brown who labeled him. Grange also helped popularize professional football.
That same day, Rice led his article on the Irish’s 13-7 comeback victory over Army of Oct. 18, 1924 at the Polo Grounds with the headline, “Original Ride of the Four Horsemen.” He overheard another writer say that the play of quarterback Harry Stuhldreher, halfbacks "Sleepy" Jim Crowley and Don Miller and fullback Elmer Layden reminded him of the Rudolph Valentino movie he'd recently seen, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. After that they led Notre Dame to a 27-10 win over Stanford in the 1925 Rose Bowl culminating a perfect 10-0 record. Leyden was the biggest and the fastest of the quartet. The Fighting Irish became a powerhouse in the 1920s as the four horsemen played 30 games together, losing only twice, both times to Nebraska.
Bronco Nagurski was also a very popular running back and defensive tackle for the University of Minnesota from 1927-1929. He was so dominant that the Bronco Nagurski Award is given to the best defensive player in college football. At 6’2, 226 pounds, Nagurski was bigger (and faster) than all of his opponents. The game was different back then with teams using the single-wing offense devised by Pop Warner for his Carlisle teams. That featured unbalanced lines, multiple running backs and direct snaps to the runner.
Then there was the famed "Win One for the Gipper" Speech on Nov. 10, 1928 (see "Knute Rockne, All American" made in 1940 when America first learned of the speech). Rockne used the speech in the locker room at Yankee Stadium prior to facing heavily favored Army. It worked as Notre Dame won 12-6.
The amazing decade culminated with the classic wrong-way run of California star center Roy Riegels on Jan. 1, 1929 during the Rose Bowl. The play began when Georgia Tech back "Stumpy" Thomason fumbled with Riegels grabbing it on the Yellow Jacket 36-yard line. He was hit and spun around and then scampered 64 yards to the first goal he saw – the opponents – during wild cheering. He finally stops at the Cal 1-yard line and is smothered there. A few plays later, Cal is forced to punt which is blocked for a safety that led to an 8-7 Georgia Tech victory. Nonetheless, the play made “Wrong Way” Riegels a national celebrity.
Feet of Mud (1924)… Harry Langdon, Natalie Kingston. Harry Holdem loves Nina March but Nina’s father wants him to get a real job and give up football. Langdon was one of the top silent comics of his day.
* The Freshman (1925)… Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, Brooks Benedict, James Anderson, Hazel Keener. One of Lloyd's best silent comedies where he plays a college loser (Harold "Speedy" Lamb) out to prove himself worthy. The second half of the Tate University vs. Union State game is one of funniest scenes in all of sports movie history. Lloyd runs a close third behind Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin for all-time best silent comic in our opinion.
The Plastic Age (1925)… Clara Bow, Donald Keith A fun-loving coed distracts a football star from his athletic and academic pursuits.
Brown of Harvard (1926)… William Haines, Jack Pickford, Mary Brian, Ralph Bushman. Football and rowing rivals compete for the affections of a pretty coed.
One Minute to Play (1926)… Red Grange, Mary McAllister, Charles Ogle. Red Wade (Grange) picks Claxton U over Parmalee College because it has a better football team. His father wants him to concentrate on his studies instead of football but he mistakenly enrolls at Parmalee. He meets a girl, goes out for the team and then quits when his father finds out. His father has a change of heart and everything works out ok in the end. University of Washington football star George Wilson also appears.
The Quarterback (1926)… Richard Dix, Esther Ralston, Harry Beresford, David Butler, Robert W. Craig, Mona Palma.
The College Hero (1927)… Robert Agnew, Pauline Garon, Ben Turpin, Rex Lease, Churchill Ross, Joan Standing, Charles Paddock. Two classmates become rivals when one dates a beautiful girl and becomes the star of the football team.
The Drop Kick (1927)… Richard Barthelmess, Barbara Kent. From imdb.com: College football player Jack Hamill finds his reputation on the line when he pays an innocent visit to a woman whose husband kills himself. John Wayne has a bit part as a USC Football Player.
West Point (1928)… William Haines, Joan Crawford, William Bakewell. Star football player with an attitude is benched for the big Army-Navy game but an injury to another player forces him in to lead the team despite suffering a broken arm late in the fourth quarter. There is some nice actual footage of the real game at the end of the film giving us a view of Army’s famous backfield shift. Made with the full cooperation of the War Department including location filming at the Academy with top-notch production values by MGM. [Instant replay made its debut in the 1963 Army-Navy game. In the 1920s, 30s, and 40, both teams were often national powers, sometimes playing for the national championship. Beginning in the 1960s, the academic and military requirements have hurt the football programs.]
The Winning Goal (1928)… George J. Lewis, Dorothy Gulliver, Eddie Phillips, Hayden Stevenson. Series #2, Episode #9 of The Collegians.
Salute (1929)… George O’Brien, Helen Chandler, Joyce Compton, William Janney, Stepin Fetchitt, Frank Albertson, Ward Bond. Hokey story about a pair of brothers who face each other in the big Army-Navy game. Look quickly for John Wayne in the hazing scene. Filmed partly at Annapolis.
The New Halfback (1929)… Andy Clyde, Harry Gribbon, Marjorie Beebe, Bert Swor, Wade Boteler, Patsy O'Leary. The college dean is forced to put his old friend on the football team.
The Forward Pass (1929)… Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Loretta Young, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Marion Byron, Phyllis Crane, Bert Rome, Lane Chandler, Allan Lane, Floyd Shackelford. A box-office flop at the time, this film about college football is now believed to be lost. John Wayne was an extra in the film. It’s basically a college musical with the star player, who wants to quit the team, falling for a pretty co-ed who persuades him to play.
So This Is College (1929)… Elliott Nugent, Robert Armstrong, Cliff Edwards, Sally Starr, Phyllis Crane, Polly Moran. Teammates unknowingly date the same girl, but don't find out about it until the big game. A musical that shows some footage from the USC-Stanford game in 1928.
College Love (1929)… George J. Lewis, Eddie Phillips, Dorothy Gulliver, Churchill Ross, Hayden Stevenson, Sumner Getchell. Flash Thomas is suspected of drinking before the big game, but star teammate Bob Wilson takes the blame and is benched. They both are after the same girl as well.
The Time, the Place and the Girl (1929)… Grant Withers, Betty Compson, Gertrude Olmstead, James Kirkwood, Vivian Oakland, Gretchen Hartman. Jim Crane, an ex-college football star and campus ladies’ man, is coerced by his boss to sell worthless bonds to interested women until an ex-coed bails him out. A musical featuring "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now," "Everything I Do I Do for You" and six other tunes.
Maybe It’s Love (1930)… Joe E. Brown, Joan Bennett, James Hall, Laura Lee. A college president’s daughter flirts to recruit eleven (real-life) All-Americans to play football for the Upton University team. Not one of Brown’s better vehicles playing Speed Hanson. The real players include Russell Saunders, (as 'Racehorse Russell'), Tim Moynihan, Bill Banker, Howard Harpster, Ray Montgomery, Otto Pommerening, Red Sleight, Kenneth Haycraft, George Gibson, Paul Scull, Jake 'Schoony' Schoonover. Also known as Eleven Men and a Girl. USC head coach Howard Jones has a cameo.
The Galloping Ghost (1931)… Red Grange, Dorothy Gulliver, Tom Dugan, Gwen Lee, Ralph Bushman. Grange stars in all 12 chapters of this serial. He is battling a gambling ring run out of the Mogul Taxi Company.
Touchdown (1931)… Richard Arlen, George Barbier, Bruce Bennett, Charles D. Brown, George Irving, J. Farrell MacDonald, Jack Oakie, Peggy Shannon, Charles Starrett, Regis Toomey. Football coach Dan Curtis does everything he can to win but has a change of heart when a player is severely injured. [Herman Brix, an All-American football star and Olympic medal winner, broke his shoulder during production and not only missed this picture, he missed starring in the first Tarzan movie.]
Maker of Men (1931)… Jack Holt, Richard Cromwell, Joan Marsh, Robert Alden, John Wayne. A struggling player is rejected his coach/father, his girlfriend Dorothy and his school so he joins a rival college team for revenge.
Spirit of Notre Dame (1931)… Richard Arlen, Andy Devine, Sally Blane, William Bakewell, J. Farrell MacDonald. Arlen specialized in these roles early in his career. Released a few months after the death of legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne and dedicated to his memory. Also featured Don Miller, Harry Stuhldreher, Elmer Layden, and Jim Crowley known as the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame.
The All-American (1932)… Richard Arlen, Andy Devine, Gloria Stuart, James Gleason, John Darrow, Preston Foster, Walter Brennan. All-American football player Gary King decides not to graduate instead joining a get rich quick scheme selling bonds. He succeeds but quickly blows his earnings on women and gambling. When his brother suffers the same fate, he agrees to play in a game that features current All-Americans and past stars. The movie features top coaches of the era, as well as the 1931 All-America Football Team. Ad campaign: The biggest names in football will appear as part of the cast of this great picture! Remember “The Spirit of Notre Dame?” Well, here’s one that has even that great attraction lashed to the mast! More love interest, more thrills, more action, more drama, more appeal, more everything! Plus that cast that will knock your eyes out.
That’s My Boy (1932)… Richard Cromwell, Dorothy Jordan, Mae Marsh, Arthur Stone, Leon Ames. Tommy Jefferson Scott works and studies hard and along the way, becomes the star player on the football team. Then he becomes involved in a stock swindle that almost ruins his career. The cast includes members of USC's national championship team of 1931. John Wayne and Buster Crabbe have bit parts. Members of the 1931 National Champion Southern California Trojans also appear.
Hold 'Em Jail (1932)… Bert Wheeler, Robert Woolsey, Betty Grable, Edgar Kennedy, Edna May Oliver, Roscoe Ates. Hokey comedy about two prisoners who start a football team (so that's where they got the premise). Worth watching because underrated old-time comedy team Wheeler & Woolsey definitely have their moments.
Horse Feathers (1932)… The Marx Brothers, Thelma Todd, David Landau, Robert Greig, Nat Pendleton. Groucho plays Quincy Adams Wagstaff, the new president of Huxley College, who tries to build a winning football team to play rival Darwin University. One of Zeppo’s rare film appearances. Zeppo played Groucho's son, but in real life, Zeppo was 11 years younger than Groucho.
Huddle (1932)… Ramon Novarro, Madge Evans, Una Merkel, Ralph Graves, John Arledge, Frank Albertson. The story of football hero Tony Amatto’s four years at Yale – from Freshman to Senior. The son of Italian immigrants, he had to overcome injury, love and prejudice to succeed. He didn’t want to be a star; he only wanted to be accepted. Not bad. Top players of the day – Albie Booth and Barry Wood – can be seen in the archive footage of football games shown. European version substituted soccer for football.
The Sport Parade (1932)… Joel McCrea, Marian Marsh, William Gargan, Robert Benchley, Walter Catlett, Skeets Gallagher. Two Dartmouth football stars go their separate ways after college. One becomes a sports reporter while the other tries to turn pro but ends up as a wrestler. Too bad because he also starred in baseball and hockey in college. Catlett turns in another scene-stealing performance as the less-than-honest manager of Sandy Brown (McRae). Humorist Benchley is the announcer.
Always Kickin’ (1933)… James Gleason, Eugene Pallette. A comedy short in which Jim Thorpe was prominently cast in a speaking part as himself, a kicking coach teaching young football players to drop-kick. College coach Bill Spaulding also appears as does football player/actor Oscar "Dutch" Hendrian.
* College Coach (1933)… Dick Powell, Ann Dvorak, Pat O'Brien, Hugh Herbert, Herman Bing, Lyle Talbot. Decent drama of demanding head coach Gore and his problems with the Calvert College team (the Four Aces backfield) and at home with the wife he almost loses. Questionable eligibility issues run a secondary theme throughout. Excellent performances by Powell and O'Brien. Check out Buck Weaver’s (Talbot) celebrations after his touchdown runs and also the way coach Gore handles the fight between his two stars in the dorm. John Wayne, hot off the USC gridiron, has a bit part as one of the students. Announcer Sam Hayes plays himself.
College Humor (1933)… Bing Crosby, Jack Oakie, Richard Arlen, Burtnes and Allen, Mary Carlisle, Mary Kornman, Joseph Sauers. Hokey musical with Crosby as the singing professor and Oakie and Arlen the football stars. USC head coach Howard Jones has a cameo.
Saturday’s Millions (1933)… Robert Young, Andy Devine, Leila Hyams, Johnny Mack Brown. Jim Fowler is a star at Western University but learns that football as merely a business, and also thinks people are only interested in him because of football.
The Band Plays On (1934)… Robert Young, Stuart Erwin, Leo Carrillo, Betty Furness, Ted Healy, Preston Foster, Russell Hardie, William Tannen, Robert Livingston. Delinquent kids grow up to become football heroes known as the "Four Bombers" at Pacific college.
Gridiron Flash (1934)… Eddie Quillan, Betty Furness, Grant Mitchell, Lucien Littlefield, Edgar Kennedy, Grady Sutton, Joe Sawyer. A Belford College scout recruits the best player from a prison team, Thomas Burke, arranging for a parole on good faith. When Burke hesitates, he shows him how he could also find potential robbery victims at the college. To keep him in school, he enlists the help of a pretty coed who happens to be a policeman's daughter. He quits over a misunderstanding, gets arrested, gets sprung and is rushed to the big game in time to score the winning touchdown. Not much action on the field.
Fighting Youth (1935)… Charles Farrell, June Martel, Ann Sheridan, Andy Devine, Edward Nugent, J. Farrell MacDonald. Straight quarterback versus radical female on campus. Sheridan's usually fine performance as the sharp-tongued subversive feline makes the film worth a look.
Hold 'Em Yale (1935)… Patricia Ellis, Cesar Romero, Buster Crabbe, William Frawley, Andy Devine, George Barbier. Gamblers want to bet on the big prizefight but one of them falls for an heiress. Her father intervenes and fixes her up with his best friend’s nerdy son Hector. Anyway, the fight gets cancelled so the gang bets on the Yale-Harvard football game instead. They bet against Yale and force the coach to play Hector, the worst player on the Yale team. Of course, he kicks the winning field goal and wins the girl. From a Damon Runyan story. Lon Chaney Jr. appears as one of the players.
Pigskin Parade (1936)… Stuart Irwin, Judy Garland, Patsy Kelly, Jack Haley, Johnny Downs, Betty Grable, Alan Ladd, Elisha Cook Jr. Married college coaches Slug and Bessie Winters recruit hillbilly quarterback Amos Dodd for their Texas State team under a false identity. He then leads them to victory over Yale in a raging snowstorm. An entertaining musical-comedy and Garland's first feature film. Garland was just 14 and Grable, 20, was not yet a star. One of Ladd’s first films as well.
Rose Bowl (1936)… Buster Crabbe, William Frawley, Tom Brown, Jimmy Conlin, Benny Baker, Priscilla Lawson. Bellport high school football stars enroll in separate colleges and one becomes an all-American at a major school. They are also involved in a love triangle. Lon Chaney Jr. appears as one of the players. [The Rose Bowl was the only bowl game in the nation until Miami started the Orange Bowl in 1933. The Sugar Bowl was inaugurated in New Orleans in 1935 with the Sun Bowl in El Paso (1936) and the Cotton Bowl in Dallas (1937) quickly following. The Gator Bowl and the Florida Citrus Bowl (originally the Tangerine Bowl) cropped up after WWII. San Antonio's Alamo Bowl was revived in 1993 after played just once before in 1947.]
* The Big Game (1936)… Phillip Huston, June Travis, James Gleason, Bruce Cabot, Andy Devine. Gamblers kidnap Atlantic’s star quarterback Clark Jenkins. The plot is typical but the on-field action is pretty good featuring real players using some actual footage. The idea for the riot scene came from an actual brawl at an NYU-Fordham football game. All-Americans Jay Berwanger (University of Chicago), William Shakespeare (Notre Dame), Robert 'Bobby' Wilson (Southern Methodist). James 'Monk' Moscrip (Stanford), Irwin 'King Kong' Klein (NYU), Gomer Jones (Ohio State), Robert 'Bones' Hamilton (Stanford), Frank Alustiza (Stanford), Chuck Bennis (University of Illinois) appear as themselves. [The novel "Big Game" by Francis Wallace was first published as a serial entitled "Odds Against Honor" in Collier's magazine in 1935. … Filmed at the Rose Bowl. … Berwanger not only had the honor of winning the first Heisman Trophy but was also the first #1 draft pick in the NFL (to Philadelphia). But he went into business instead… Back then, “The Big Game” referred to the annual football game between Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley.]
We Went to College (1936)… Charles Butterworth, WalterAbel, Hugh Herbert, Una Merkel, Edith Atwater, Walter Catlett. Three middle-aged men attend homecoming and get caught up in their old college days. You won’t believe how they get involved in the game. Afterwards, one of them reacquaints himself with the professor’s pretty wife, his old fame. Not much football action.
* Saturday's Heroes (1937)… Van Heflin, Marian Marsh, Richard Lane, Alan Bruce, Minor Watson, Frank Jenks, Al St. John. Outspoken college football star Val Webster (Heflin) sounds off against collegiate political corruption. He is basically fed up with amateur athletes betting on games, scalping tickets and accepting subsidies. The same goes for the college board of directors, who pocket most of the profits. Webster is expelled but is aided by sportswriter Red Watson (Richard Lane) to expose them. And by winning the big game against them as the rival coach, he proves himself right and them wrong. He also wins the girl, of course. Heflin was well cast as an athlete as he was an accomplished swimmer, fisherman and sailor. Still timely and with a strong supporting cast.
Over the Goal (1937)… June Travis, William Hopper, Johnnie ‘Scat’ Davis, Gordon Oliver. Injured Carlton State quarterback Ken Thomas (knee injury) makes a promise to his girlfriend that he won't play again. Then, when she relents, crooks hoping to make money from the big game kidnap him. Production values hurt the film in some scenes but there are a few enthusiastic performances, especially from Scat Davis who displays a penchant for comedy. Also, his fine singing voice and trumpet playing are featured in two short songs and in a production number near the middle of the film. Members of the USC football team also appear as it was partially filmed in the Rose Bowl. Marie Wilson and Jane Wyman appear briefly as co-eds. Be sure to watch for Weston’s trick play to win the big game.
Hold 'Em Navy (1937)… Lew Ayres, Mary Carlisle, John Howard, Benny Baker, Elizabeth Patterson. Two guys play football and chase girls in college. Tagline: The Middies March To Glory In Football And Romance!
Navy Blue and Gold (1937)… Robert Young, James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Florence Rise, Billie Burke, Tom Brown, Samuel S. Hinds, Paul Kelly. Three buddies (Roger 'Rog' Ash, John 'Truck' Cross, Captain 'Skinny' Dawes) go to Annapolis, meet some girls and play football.
Life Begins in College (1937)… Joan Davis, Fred Stone, Gloria Stuart, Nat Pendleton, the Ritz Brothers. Comedy about a wealthy Indian student who might get kicked off the team because he has played professionally.
Two Minutes to Play (1937)… Bruce Bennett, Edward J. Nugent, Jeanne Martel, Betty Comson, Grady Sutton, Duncan Renaldo. At Franklin University, two players are rivals on the field and for the affections of the same girl.
Touchdown Army (1938)… Mary Carlisle, Chester Clute, Robert Cummings, Owen Davis Jr., William Frawley, Raymond Hatton, John Howard, Minor Watson, Grant Withers. Prep football star enters West Point with cocky attitude and alienates some of the players. Just before the Army-Navy game, he fails French, and is tutored by the daughter of a West Point officer.
Start Cheering (1938)… Jimmy Durante, Walter Connelly, Charles Starrett, Joan Perry, Raymond Walburn, Broderick Crawford, The Three Stooges. A movie star, the hero of many college and football movies, quits the business to enroll at Midland College. He falls in love with the Dean’s daughter and joins the football team. Don’t miss Chaz Chases’s fire-eating routine and Hal Le Roy's brilliant college dance scene. The Stooges make a cameo appearance. [Starrett played football at Darmouth and was originally hired to play a football extra in The Quarterback.]
Come On, Leathernecks! (1938)…
The Gladiator (1938)… Joe E. Brown, Man Mountain Dean, June Travis, Dickie Moore, Lucien Littlefield. Enjoyable little story about timid young Hugo Kipp who drinks a serum and becomes a star collegiate athlete. [Dean (real name Frank S. Leavitt) was a professional wrestler aka Hell's Kitchen Hillbilly and Stone Mountain Leavitt.]
Mr. Doodle Kicks Off (1938)… Joe Penner, Joe Travis, Richard Lane, Ben Alexander, Billy Gilbert, Jack Carson. Ellory Bugs has offered a huge donation to his old alma mater, Taylor Tech, but only if his son, Jimmie "Doodle" Bugs, becomes a football player. But Doodle is more interested in the joining the band. He also has eyes for the star of the team’s girlfriend.
Swing That Cheer (1938)… Tom Brown, Robert Wilcox, Constance Moore, Andy Devine, Samuel S. Hinds. Comedy about a pair of best buddies whose friendship starts to erode when one of them, the star blocker, gets jealous of all the praise heaped on the star running back.
$1000 a Touchdown (1939)… Joe E. Brown, Martha Raye, Eric Blore, Susan Hayward. Brown plays Marlowe Mansfield Booth in his second pigskin comedy. A show-biz couple inherits a college on the brink of bankruptcy and tries to recruit football players by offering $1,000 for every touchdown scored.
Cowboy Quarterback (1939)… Bert Wheeler, Marie Wilson, Gloria Dickson, William Demarest, Eddie Foy Jr., William Hopper. A scout for the Chicago Packers (Demarest) signs star running back Harry Lynn (Wheeler, looking a bit old for the role at 44) but he won't leave his Montana hometown without his girlfriend. He also gets into trouble with gamblers right before the National Championship game (Packers vs. California Ramblers). Of course he scores the winning TD on the last play – after a long run he is tackled and fumbles at the one-yard line but recovers the ball in the end zone. One of the first films to feature pro football although there is little action shown on the gridiron. Ring Lardner and George M. Cohan wrote the script. [This was Wheeler’s first solo role after comedy partner Robert Woolsey's death in 1938. … The real Green Bay Packers were NFL champs in 1930-31-36-39.]
* Knute Rockne, All American (1940)… Pat O'Brien, Ronald Reagan, Gale Page, Donald Crisp, Albert Basserman, John Qualen. Emotional biography of the great Notre Dame Coach with Reagan as the ill-fated George Gipp – the Gipper. It starts with his family's arrival from Norway in 1895 and follows him through the invention of the forward pass to the building of the great Notre Dame dynasty interspersed with actual game footage. Famous coaches Howard Jones, Glenn 'Pop' Warner, Amos Alonzo Stagg and Bill Spaulding have cameos. George Reeves (TV’s Superman) appears as one of the star players. Rockne (O'Brien) gives his famous pep-talk to his losing team against Army during half-time. It has often just been stated as "Win one for the Gipper," or "Win this one for the Gipper." Gipp was a real-life football star who died young of pneumonia.
The actual speech went like this: "I'm going to tell you something I've kept to myself for years. None of you ever knew George Gipp – it was long before your time. But you all know what a tradition he is at Notre Dame. And the last thing he said to me, 'Rock,' he said, 'sometime, when the team is up against it, and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock,' he said, 'but I'll know about it ... and I'll be happy.'"
The Quarterback (1940)… Wayne Morris, Virginia Dale, Lillian Cornell, Edgar Kennedy, Alan Mowbray, Jerome Cowan, Frank Burke, Rod Cameron, Walter Catlett, William Frawley. A comedy featuring Morris in a dual role as a dumb twin and a star football player, and a smart twin studying to become a college professor. They both are smitten with Kay Merrill (Dale) as well. Of course, gamblers are also involved.
While Thousands Cheer (1940)… Kenny Washington, Mantan Moreland, Al Duvall. A college football star halfback becomes involved with gangsters and gamblers. [Washington was a former Los Angeles Rams halfback and one of the first African Americans to play in the NFL after World War II. He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1956.]
Rise and Shine (1941)… Jack Oakie, Linda Darnell, George Murphy, Walter Brennen, Sheldon Leonard, Donald Meek, Ruth Donnelly, Milton Berle, Donald MacBride, Raymond Walburn. Hokey comedy about football star Boley Bolenkowitz kidnapped by crooks. The cast certainly tries their best. Based on a short story by James Thurber.
Harmon of Michigan (1941)… Tom Harmon, Anita Louise, Forest Evashevski, Oscar O'Shea, Warren Ashe, Stanley Brown, Ken Christy, Tim Ryan, William Hall, Lloyd Bridges, Larry Parks Chester Conklin. Harmon plays himself in what is supposed to be his biography but it is anything but. After the open narration, the film loses direction and credibility. Harmon starred at Michigan, became a war hero, played two years of pro football and then became a famous broadcaster. This movie was made after his graduation and before he was drafted.
The Spirit of Stanford (1942)… Frankie Albert, Marguerite Chapman, Matt Willis, Shirley Patterson, Kay Harris, Robert Kellard, Lloyd Bridges, Forrest Tucker. Ernie Cocky high school quarterback attends Stanford to play football but quits the team two years late after he was the subject of a psychology report. Nevers appears as himself. [Albert was the real life Stanford quarterback, then played pro football and also coached.]
The Male Animal (1942)… Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland, Jack Carson, Joan Leslie, Herbert Anderson, Eugene Pallette. A professor fights for his wife and academic freedom on the weekend of the big Midwestern vs. Michigan football game. Mostly a drama with an enthusiastic cast but has few football scenes.
The Iron Major (1943)… Pat O'Brien, Ruth Warwick, Robert Ryan, Leon Ames, Russell Wade, Bruce Edwards. Biography of football coach and WWI hero Frank Cavanaugh. He coached at Fordham, Boston College, Dartmouth, Cincinnati and Holy Cross and studied law in Boston. Entertaining but not very many football scenes. There is newsreel footage of actual games included however.
High School Hero (1946)… Freddie Stewart, June Preisser, Noel Neill, Ann Rooney, Warren Mills. Students save the football team, the high school play and the high school paper. Mostly a musical.
* The Spirit of West Point (1947)… Felix ‘Doc’ Blanchard, Glenn Davis, Tom Harmon, Robert Shayne, Anne Nagel, Alan Hale Jr. Army football legends Blanchard and Davis play themselves in the West Point football story.
Good News (1947)… June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Mel Torme, Patricia Marshall, Joan McCracken, Donald MacBride. A school librarian falls for the star player. Connie Decent musical set on the fictitious Tait University campus in the 1920s. One of the first color movies to feature football action. Songs include “Varsity Drag” and “The French Lesson.” [Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney were the first choices to play the leads but a bigger picture came along instead.]
Triple Threat (1948)… Richard Crane, Gloria Henry, Mary Stuart, John Litel, Pat Phelan, Joseph Crehan. Announcers Tom Harmon, Harry Wismer and Bob Kelly play themselves. Many NFL players like Sammy Baugh, Paul Christman, Bill Dudley, Sid Luckman, Charles Trippi and Steve Van Buren appear as themselves. One of the first films about pro football. [Wismer founded the New York Titans who changed to the Jets after the 1962 season.]
* Easy Living (1949)… Victor Mature, Lizabeth Scott, Lucille Ball, Sonny Tufts, Lloyd Nolan, Paul Stewart, Jack Paar, Jim Backus, Art Baker, Jeff Donnell. Pretty good story of how pro football star Pete Wilson has to cope with a heart condition and a gold-digging wife. Convincing performances all around. Based on an Irwin Shaw story with excellent supporting cast. Partially filmed at Wrigley Field, Chicago. One of talk show host Jack Paar’s rare film appearances.
Father Was a Fullback (1949)… Fred MacMurray, Maureen O'Hara, Betty Lynn, Rudy Vallee, Natalie Wood, Thelma Ritter, Jim Backus. Above average comedy of ex- high school football coach George Cooper who's trying to deal with his team and family during his first season at State where he has yet to win a game. Solid cast makes it fun to watch but the final game has many technical flaws including uniform and game continuity. And Cooper waits until there are 20 seconds left in the game to send in his ‘secret play.’ [Betty Lynn was Thelma Lou on the Andy Griffith Show.]
* Jim Thorpe – All American (1951)… Burt Lancaster, Charles Bickford, Steve Cochran, Phyllis Thaxter, Dick Wesson. Fairly accurate adaptation on the life of one of the world's greatest athletes. The script follows Thorpe from his youth on an Oklahoma reservation through his years as the star athlete for Pennsylvania's Carlisle Indian School (coached by Pop Warner) and of course his 1912 Olympic triumphs. A series of tragedies befouled him after that. Lancaster is excellent in the role both as actor and athlete and Bickford excels as coach Warner.
* Saturday's Hero (1951)… John Derek, Donna Reed, Otto Hulett, Sidney Blackmer, Alexander Knox. Naïve high school hero Steve Novak wins a college scholarship and gradually becomes corrupted by the system. Teammates, coaches and the alumni only care about winning but turn their back on him after an injury. The message of Millard Lampell and Sidney Buchman's hard-hitting script still holds up today.
That's My Boy (1951)… Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Mayehoff, Ruth Hussey, Polly Bergen, John McIntyre. Decent comedy with Martin hired to tutor weakling Lewis who's the son of the college's ex-star player. Not one of M&L's funniest but it later spawned a short-lived TV series.
The Guy Who Came Back (1951)… Paul Douglas, Linda Darnell, Joan Bennett, Don DeFore, Zero Mostell, Billy Gray. Not much football in story of down on his luck ex-star Harry Joplin trying to find himself. Playing in a charity football game somehow helps him.
Bonzo Goes To College (1952)… Maureen O'Sullivan, Charles Drake, Edmund Gwenn, Gigi Perreau, Gene Lockhart, Irene Ryan, David Janssen. Chimp leads football team to victory. Entertaining fluff and we get to watch Tarzan's girlfriend, Santa Claus, a delinquent in her pre-teen days, Granny and the Fugitive all in one movie. Sequel to Betime for Bonzo.
The Rose Bowl Story (1952)… Marshall Thompson, Vera Miles, Natalie Wood, Ann Doran, Jim Backus. A story about football players on and off the field goes nowhere. Tom Harmon appears as himself. Nancy Thorn, that’s year’s Rose Bowl Queen, appears as herself. [Directed by William "One-Shot" Beaudine whose movies were mostly low budget 'quickie' pictures. He rarely shot a scene a second time, even if there was a minor mistake.]
Hold That Line (1952)… Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Gil Stratton, David Gorcey, John Bromfield. The Bowery Boys in the standard story of the college football star kidnapped by gangsters to keep him out of the big game.
The All-American (1953)… Tony Curtis, Lori Nelson, Richard Long, Mamie Van Doren, Gregg Palmer, Stuart Whitman. More romance than football in this soaper but Curtis does a good job as Nick Bonelli, Mid-State’s quarterback, who transfers to Sheridan University to study architecture after his parents die in an auto accident. The gridiron scenes are fun. Tom Harmon and Frank Gifford have cameos.
Football Now and Then (1953)… An old man brags to his grandson that old-time football players could defeat a modern team. So then we get to watch a close, hard fought game of the old time Bygone U. vs. Present State. Disney cartoon short.
Crazylegs (1953)… Elroy Hirsch, Lloyd Nolan, Joan Vohs, Louise Lorimer. So-so biography of Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Elroy 'Crazylegs' Hirsch. Average at best but worth watching because of interesting newsreel footage. Also because Hirsch plays himself as do teammates Tom Fears, Richard Lane, Woodley Lewis, Deacon Dan Towler, Norm Van Brocklin, Bob Waterfield and Paul 'Tank' Younger.
Trouble Along the Way (1953)… John Wayne, Donna Reed, Charles Coburn, Sherry Jackson, Marie Windsor, Tom Tully, Leif Erickson, Chuck Connors. Steve Williams, who was kicked out of the game a few years ago, is hired to coach football at St. Anthony College right in the middle of a recruiting scandal. At the same time, he is trying to retain custody of his daughter following his divorce.
Moochie of Pop Warner Football (1960)… Kevin Corcoran, Alan Hale Jr., John Howard. An 11-year-old gets into trouble with City Hall during a football tryout. Corcoran also starred in Moochie of the Little League and several other Disney vehicles.
This Sporting Life (1963)… Richard Harris, Rachel Roberts, Alan Badel, William Hartnell. Story of a frustrated rugby star in Yorkshire in Northern England is a good example of the rough, tough sport. Northern England generally has the better Rugby players. Worth seeing for the experience. Glenda Jackson, in her first role, has a bit part. [Harris played rugby in his youth.]
John Goldfarb, Please Come Home (1965)… Shirley MacLaine, Peter Ustinov, Richard Crenna, Scott Brady, Jim Backus, Charles Lane. Two American’s help an Arabian football team play Notre Dame in an exhibition game. The Fighting Irish sued trying to keep this film from release because of its racial stereotypes and ridiculous situations. Even so, it is not worth watching although many famous names have bit parts.
* Paper Lion (1968)… Alan Alda, Lauren Hutton, Alex Karras, David Doyle, Ann Turkel. Entertaining account of sports writer working out with the Detroit Lions. He actually plays a series in an exhibition game versus the Cardinals. Many Detroit players appear including head coach Joe Schmidt, tackle Alex Karras, quarterbacks Milt Plum and Karl Sweetan, running back Mel Farr and ends Pat Studstill and Ron Kramer. Lineman John Gordy and Roger Brown and boxer Sugar Ray Robinson also appear. Based on George Plimpton's best-seller of the same name.
The Split (1968)… Jim Brown, Diahann Carroll, Ernest Borgnine, Julie Harris, Gene Hackman, Jack Klugman, Warren Oates, James Whitmore, Donald Sutherland. A gang of crooks robs the Los Angeles Coliseum during a Rams game. Pretty ordinary but some color footage of Roman Gabriel & Co.
Number One (1969)… Charleton Heston, Bruce Dern, Jessica Walter, John Randolph, Diana Muldaur. Forgettable story of aging New Orleans Saints quarterback Cat Catlan trying to come back. … This one should be redone with better script and cast. Al Hirt has a cameo. Saints’ owner John Mecom Jr. has a small part, playing the role of a backup quarterback. Defensive end Doug Atkins played himself. [New Orleans quarterback Billy Kilmer coached Heston on throwing passes. "I guess it proved it's easier to drive a chariot than throw a football," Kilmer said. "Heston worked real hard at it, but he was the most uncoordinated man I've ever been around. I've seen women throw the ball better than him." Saints’ trainer Warren Ariail said equipment manager Charlie Shepard threw every spiral pass used in the movie. There were two takes for the final action shot, showing Catlan being sacked by three real-life Saints, tackles Mike Tilleman and Dave Rowe and linebacker Fred Whittingham, who were dressed in Cleveland Browns uniforms shot at Tulane Stadium. Heston wanted to capture the feel of the famous photograph of a bleeding Y.A. Tittle, kneeling on the grass after throwing an interception. He did and also suffered a couple of broken ribs in the second take.]
* Brian's Song (1970)… Billy D.Williams, James Caan, Jack Warden, Judy Pace, Shelly Fabares. Tragic story of Chicago Bears fullback Brian Piccolo and his friendship with teammate Gale Sayers. Based on Sayers book, I Am Third. One of the best ever TV-movies. Abe Gibron, Jack Concannon, Ed O'Bradovich, Dick Butkus and Harold 'Happy' Hairston have cameos. Filmed at Notre Dame Stadium during a 1969 preseason game between Cleveland and Chicago. Remade in 2002.
A Fan's Notes (1972)… Jerry Ohrbach, Burgess Meredith, Patricia Collins, Julia Ann Robinson, Rosemary Murphy. Football becomes a dangerous obsession for a disillusioned writer in this strange bit of celluloid. Based on Frederick Exley's fine novel of the same name but the film unfortunately misses the mark completely.
* Footsteps (1972)… Richard Crenna, Joanna Pettet, Forrest Tucker, Ned Beatty, Clu Gulager, Allen Garfield, James Woods, Robert Carradine. A losing college hungry for a winner hires intense assistant coach Paddy O’Connor. Pretty good TV-movie with excellent performances all around. Based on the novel Paddy and also known as Nice Guys Finish Last.
Legend in Granite (1973)… Ernest Borgnine. TV-movie about the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi who won five NFL championships and whom the winning Super Bowl trophy is named after. In his college days, he was an undersized guard on Fordham's legendary front line, the Seven Blocks of Granite. Just 48 minutes long but worth checking out. This movie is hard to find but Rare Sportsfilms has “Run to Daylight” in stock, the TV documentary on Lombardi produced in 1964. Call 1-630-527-8890 for more details. More videos can be obtained at www.vincelombardi.com.
Blood Sport (1973)… Ben Johnson, Larry Hagman, Gary Busey. Overbearing father pushes son to be a pro football player. Excellent father-son character study but little football.
* The Longest Yard (1974)… Burt Reynolds, Eddie Albert, Ed Lauter, Michael Conrad, Jim Hampton, Bernadette Peters, Charles Tyner, Mike Henry. Convicted ex-pro quarterback Paul Crewe leads team of fellow inmates against prison guards. The relationship between Reynolds and Albert's treacherous warden character led to the violent game finale that audiences loved. Entertaining comedy-drama written by Keenan Wynn's son Tracy. Real football players Mike Henry, Pervis Atkins, Joe Kapp, Ray Nitschke, Sonny Sixkiller, Ernie Wheelwright appear. Pat Studstill was the technical advisor.
Return to Campus (1975)… John Barner, Robert Gutin, Norma Joseph, Earl Keyes, Helen Killinger, Connie O'Connell, Al Raymond, Ray Troha, Jesse White. A widower returns to college many years after WWII, finds romance and becomes a star kicker (with a spring-loaded kicking shoe) for the football team. Tom Harmon and Arnold Palmer have cameos.
Two Minute Warning (1976)… Charleton Heston, John Cassavetes, Martin Balsam, Beau Bridges, Marilyn Hassett, David Janssen, Jack Klugman, Gena Rowlands, Walter Pidgeon. Sniper threatens packed football stadium. Merv Griffin has a cameo. Pass.
Gus (1976)… Ed Asner, Don Knotts, Tim Conway, Gary Grimes, Dick Butkus. Nutty comedy of football-kicking mule imported from Yugoslavia to save the struggling California Atoms. Entertaining Disney fare, but Gus is no Bonzo. Dick Enberg is the announcer.
Black Sunday (1977)… Robert Shaw, Bruce Dern, Marthe Keller, Fritz Weaver, Steven Keats, Bekim Fehmiu, Michael V. Gazzo, William Daniels. International terrorists threaten to blow up Super Bowl Stadium. Entertaining and well done if that's what you want. From the Thomas Harris bestseller.
Something For Joey (1977)… Geraldine Page, Gerald S. O'Laughlin, Marc Singer, Jeff Lynas, Linda Kelsey, Steven Guttenberg, Paul Picerni. True story of Heisman Trophy winner and Boston Patriots star John Cappelletti and his leukemia stricken younger brother. Well done but not much football.
Semi-Tough (1977)… Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, Jill Clayburgh, Robert Preston, Bert Convy, Richard Masur, Carl Weathers, Brian Dennehy, Ron Silver, Roger E. Mosley. Raunchy story about two pro players (Billy Clyde Puckett, Shake Tiller) after the same girl - the owner's daughter of the Miami Bucks. The book (by Dan Jenkins) was better although, despite critical reviews, the film was a box office hit. Paul Hornung, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Joe Kapp, Dick Schaap and Lindsey Nelson have cameos.
* Heaven Can Wait (1978)… Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Jack Warden, Dyan Cannon, Charles Grodin, James Mason. Well-done remake of two earlier movies has Los Angeles Rams quarterback Joe Pendleton returning to earth in another man's body after a mistakenly pronounced dead. LA Rams players Marvin Fleming, Deacon Jones, Les Josephson and Jack T. Snow have cameos. Announcers featured include Dick Enberg, Curt Gowdy, Al De Rogatis, Bryant Gumbel and Jim Healy. [The film received nine Oscar nominations and Beatty became the first person since Orson Welles to be nominated for best actor, best screenplay, best director and best picture.]
Superdome (1979)… David Janssen, Edie Adams, Ken Howard, Van Johnson, Donna Mills, Jane Wyatt, Peter Haskell, Clifton Davis, Tom Selleck, Bubba Smith, Dick Butkus. TV-movie about a killer stalking the New Orleans Super Bowl. A remake of Two Minute Warning that we didn't need.
* North Dallas Forty (1979)… Nick Nolte, Mac Davis, Charles Durning, Dayle Haddon, G.D. Spradlin, Bo Svenson, Steve Forrest, John Matuszak. Again, the book (by ex-Cowboys flanker Pete Gent) was better but the movie is worth watching. It is the story of how dehumanizing and painful athletic competition can be whether you succeed or not. Some feel it's the best football movie ever made. The team is the North Dallas Bulls.
Fighting Back (1980)… Robert Urich, Art Carney, Bonnie Bedelia, Howard Cosell, Bubba Smith, Richard Herd, Simone Griffeth, Steve Tannen. True story of Pittsburgh Steelers halfback and Vietnam War hero Rocky Bleier based on his book. Many Pittsburgh players appeared in this TV-movie. Howard Cosell has a cameo.
Coach of the Year (1980)… Robert Conrad, Erin Gray, Red West, Daphne Maxwell, Ed O'Bradovich, Ricky Paul, Alex Paez. Former pro football star Jim Brandon, wounded in Vietnam, coaches a group of rowdy kids from his wheelchair. TV-movie was intended to be a series pilot. Former Chicago Bear Ed O'Bradovich has a cameo.
The Club (1980)… Jack Thompson, Graham Kennedy, Frank Wilson, Harold Hopkins, John Howard. Thompson is the football coach (Australian rules football) forced into unwanted politics off the field. Well-done Australian movie. Based on a play by David Williamson. Also known as Players.
Grambling's White Tiger (1981)… Bruce Jenner, Harry Belafonte, LeVar Burton, Dennis Haysburt, Deborah Pratt, Ray Vitte. True story of Jim Gregory, a white quarterback on an all-black football team. Jenner is miscast but Belafonte does a good job playing coach Eddie Robinson. Based on Bruce Behrenberg's book, My Little Brother is Coming Tomorrow.
The Steeler and the Pittsburgh Kid (1981)… Henry Thomas, Joe Greene, Franco Harris, Lonny Chapman, Harvey Martin. Based on the popular award-winning 1979 Coca-Cola commercial where Greene trades his jersey in exchange for a coke from a kid. Greene and the team temporarily adopt the nine-year-old boy and they learn a valuable lesson from each other. Featured is a dream sequence where the kid plays quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. [Thomas played Elliott in Steven Spielberg's E.T. the following year. Shot on location in Dallas, Texas, and at Texas Stadium. A local semi-pro team was used to fill out the roster] An NBC Hour Special.
The Kinky Coaches and the Pom Pom Pussycats (1981)… John Vernon, Norman Fell, Robert Forster. Bad comedy about two rival high school football teams and their feuding coaches. Some action on the field and brief nudity during a strip poker game.
All the Right Moves (1983)… Tom Cruise, Craig T. Nelson, Lea Thompson, Charles Cioffi, Paul Carafotes, Christopher Penn. Star high school defensive back Stef Djordjevic clashes with his demanding coach Nickerson. Good performances all around. Filmed on location in Johnstown, Pa.
Quarterback Princess (1983)… Helen Hunt, Don Murray, Barbara Babcock, Dana Elcar, John Stockwell, Daphne Zuniga. TV-movie of high school girl (and homecoming queen) Tami Maida trying out for the boys’ varsity football team. Based on a true story.
The Bear (1984)… Gary Busey, Harry Dean Stanton, Cynthia Leake, Eric Hipple, Jon-Erik Hexum, Carmen Thomas, Gary Guffey, D'Urville Martin. Average biography of legendary Alabama head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Busey is miscast but tries hard to make something of a so-so script.
Off Sides (1984)… Tony Randall, Eugene Roche, Grant Goodeve, Adam Baldwin, Penny Peyser, Brian Dennehy, Gloria DeHaven, William Windom, Elisha Cook Jr, Stephen Furst, Patrick Swayze. TV-movie about a football game pitting a town's hippies against the police. Outdated premise tries to recapture the success of The Longest Yard. It doesn't. Also known as Pigs vs. Freaks. Tom Harmon, Joe Kapp and Pat Studstill have cameos.
Against All Odds (1984)… Rachel Ward, Jeff Bridges, James Woods, Alex Karras, Jane Greer, Richard Widmark. A gangster hires an ex-football player to find his girlfriend but they fall in love when he does. Unusual film-noir works in some places but there is not much football action.
The Best of Times (1986)… Robin Williams, Kurt Russell, Pamela Reed, Holly Palance, Donald Moffat, Magaret Whitton, M. Emmett Walsh, Donovan Scott, R.G. Armstrong, Kirk Cameron. Former high school rivals have a rematch of the big game 13 years later with star quarterback Reno Hightower. Ron Shelton's script has some pretty good moments but on the whole falls short.
Wildcats (1986)… Goldie Hawn, Swoosie Kurtz, Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Robyn Lively, Brandy Gold, James Keach, Jan Hooks, Bruce McGill, Nipsey Russell, Mykel T. Williamson, M. Emmett Walsh, George Wyner, Ann Doran, Gloria Stuart. A female inner city high school track takes over the junior varsity football team and wins the players over after the usual initial resistance. Opening song is the best part of film, otherwise - pass. L.L. Cool J. has a cameo. Snipes' and Harrelson's movie debuts.
Lucas (1986)… Corey Haim, Kerri Green, Charlie Sheen, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Winona Ryder, Tom Hodges, Ciro Poppiti, Guy Boyd, Jeremy Piven. From www.imdb.com: A young nerdy boy hopes to gain acceptance in a high school by not backing down against the school bullies, attempting to make the football team and by befriending a new popular girl. His life is complicated when he falls in love with her while she falls in love with his protector, the school football star, in this sensitive and true portrayal of growing up.
Everybody's All-American (1988)… Dennis Quaid, Jessica Lange, Timothy Hutton, John Goodman, Carl Lumbly, Patricia Clarkson, Ray Baker, Savannah Smith Boucher. Twenty-five years in the life of college football hero Gavin Gray and his homecoming queen wife. Starts with their senior year at LSU in 1956 and continues through his Redskins and Broncos career and into retirement. Story has its moments but never really goes anywhere. Lange and Goodman try their best. Based on a novel by Frank Deford who also has a cameo as a café owner. Cliff Branch and Raymond Chester are two of the football players. Archival footage of the real LSU Tigers and the pros are fun to watch. Period rock and roll score also helps. Worth a look.
Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story (1988)… Pam Dawber, Michael Nouri, Bess Meyer, Peter Berg, James Handy, Dan Lauria. A slowly dying football coach is bedridden so his wife helps him coach the team, first from a wheelchair, and then from a hospital bed.
Glory Days (1988)… Robert Conrad, Jennifer O'Neill, Shane Conrad, Duane Davis, Stacy Edwards, Pamela Gidley, Ed O'Ross. A 53-year-old businessman decides to take advantage of an old football scholarship and return to the gridiron with Pacific University. TV-movie is a nice idea but suffers from so-so script and below average dialog. Conrad is not very convincing as a quarterback either but his depiction of middle-aged aches and pains is believable.
Johnny Be Good (1988)… Anthony Michael Hall, Robert Downey Jr., Paul Gleason, Uma Thurman, Steve James, Seymour Cassel, Robert Downey Sr., Jennifer Tilly. Boring comedy about star high school player Johnny Walker and the various idiot recruiters that are sniffing around him. Not worth your time. Howard Cosell and Jim McMahon have cameos.
Triumph of the Heart: The Ricky Bell Story (1991)… Mario Van Peebles, Susan Ruttan, Lane Davis, Lynn Whitfield. True story of Tampa Bay Buccaneers star and his relationship with a disabled boy make for an inspirational TV-movie. Bell died of a rare muscle disease in the prime of his career while trying to be a big brother to the fatherless child. Marcus Allen, Anthony Davis and Charles White appear as themselves.
The Last Boy Scout (1991)… Bruce Willis, Damon Wayans, Chelsea Field, Noble Willingham, Taylor Negron, Danielle Harris, Halle Berry, Bruce McGill. Ok action film about fired Secret Service agent Joe Hallenbeck and ex-pro quarterback Jimmy Dix investigating corruption in football. Bill Medley (the singer), Vern Lundquist (announcer), Dick Butkus and Lynn Swann have cameos.
Necessary Roughness (1991)… Scott Bakula, Robert Loggia, Hector Elizondo, Harley Jane Kozak, Larry Miller, Sinbad, Fred Dalton Thompson, Rob Schneider, Jason Bateman. Because of a recruiting scandal, 34-year-old Paul Blake gets another chance to play quarterback as a freshman at Texas State. Typical script suffers even more with below average dialog and questionable casting. Bakula, Loggia, Elizondo and Sinbad are fine but Miller as the university's Dean and Kathy Ireland as the team's kicker? Chris Berman, Dick Butkus, Bubba Smith, Ben Davidson and other NFL players have cameos.
Backfield in Motion (1991)… Roseanne and Tom Arnold, Colleen Camp, Conchata Ferrell, Carolyn Mignani, Johnny Galecki. Better than you'd think TV-movie comedy but certainly not for all tastes.
School Ties (1992)… Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Chris O'Donnell, Randall Batinkoff, Andrew Lowery, Cole Hauser, Amy Locane. The story of 1950's prep school student David Greene who wants to play football and go to Harvard despite social and religious pressure. When it's discovered he's Jewish, he becomes the object of ridicule. Good enough acting and script but not a much football.
* The Program (1993)… James Caan, Halle Berry, Omar Epps, Craig Sheffer, Kristy Swanson. An inside look (although at times flawed by the characterization) at big-time college football is interesting but gets bogged down in the parallel love story sub-plot. Game action sequences are realistic and imaginatively filmed however. Chris Berman and Bo Schembechler have cameos. "As long as you're in the program, they'll get you through." [Original sequence of players lying in the street deleted from the video after a real-life death by imitation… Ex-CFL wide receiver Mark Ellis coached the actors. He also performed the same duty in many movies after this.]
* Rudy (1993)… Sean Astin, Ned Beatty, Robert Prosky, Charles S. Dutton, Lili Taylor. Based on the true story of Rudy Ruettiger's quest to play football at Notre Dame in the mid-70s. Lack of size and academic ability did not stop him from working hard and achieving his goal. Serves as inspiration to those who feel like giving up and remains one of the few sports movies of the '90s that you can take the kids to see. Director and screenwriter also worked together on Hoosiers. The real Rudy appears briefly as a fan in the stands.
Rise and Walk: The Dennis Byrd Story (1994)… Peter Berg, Kathy Morris, Johann Carlo, Wolfgang Bodison. True story of the career, injury and recovery of New York Jets defensive end Dennis Byrd who was paralyzed during a game in 1992. Former NFL running back Reese Morrison plays the Kansas City quarterback. Based on the book by Dennis Byrd and Michael D'Orso.
Windrunner (1994)… Jason Wiles, Russell Means, Margot Kidder, Amanda Peterson, Kellie Beames, Zane Parker, Bruce Weitz. A high-school football player receives guidance from a Native American possessed by the spirit of Jim Thorpe. [Russell Means led the 1972 standoff with the US government at Wounded Knee. He has also has appeared in many movies including The Last of the Mohicans and Natural Born Killers.]
Little Giants (1995)… Rick Moranis, Ed O'Neill, Shawna Waldron, John Madden. Entertaining formula comedy in the Bad News Bears vein. Emmitt Smith, Tim Brown, Bruce Smith and Steve Emtman appear as themselves.
Midnight Heat (1996)… Tim Matheson, Stephen Mendel, Mimi Craven, L. Harvey Gold, Claire Yarlett, Marsha L. McVay. An affair with the slain football team owner's wife implicates one of the players in the murder.
Halfback of Notre Dame (1996)… Allen Cutler, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Gabriel Hogan, Sandra Nelson, Scott Hylands. Made-for-TV movie about a French exchange student and classical pianist who inadvertently turns a star athlete away from football and a possible scholarship. Average viewing.
Reggie’s Prayer (1996)… Reggie White, Sara White, Paul White, Pat Morita. White stars as Reggie Knox, a frustrated retired football player, who takes a job coaching a Portland, Ore., high school football team. There he finds some meaning helping out a troubled student. Many present and former football stars appear which is the only real appeal here.
* Jerry Maguire (1997)… Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renee Zellweger, Bonnie Hunt. Down-on-his-luck sports agent sticks to his principals and saves face. Great sports movie for the first two hours but gets sappy at the end. Luckily, Zellweger is the constant settling influence. Many cameos including Troy Aikman, Dan Dierdorf, Roy Firestone, Frank Gifford, Al Michaels and Mike Tirico. Real life agent Leigh Steinberg, who served as the film's advisor, also appears. Great musical score too. [The final catch by Gooding's character, Rod Tidwell, took six stunt doubles, 22 takes and half the night to get right. “Gooding took his reps in the line and worked as hard as anybody," coach Mark Ellis said. “We knocked him around pretty good. Cuba got in shape for the movie and made some catches coming across the middle, which made the movie better."]
Angels in the End Zone (1997)… Matthew Lawrence, Christopher Lloyd, David Gallagher, Jack Coleman, Lynda Boyd, Allan Zinyk. Formula Disney fare with typical plot and ending. Predictable script is punctuated by a few funny moments but the kids will love it. Lloyd reprises his role from Angels in the Outfield.
Weapons of Mass Distraction (1997)… Gabriel Byrne, Ben Kingsley, Mimi Rogers, Jeffrey Tambor, Illeana Douglas, Paul Mazursky, Chris Mulkey, R. Lee Ermey, Caroline Aaron, Jason Lee. Two billionaires vie for ownership of a pro football team, doing all they can to outdo each other while alienating their families and employees in the process. Too haphazard to enjoy.
The Waterboy (1998)… Adam Sandler, Henry Winkler, Fairuza Balk, Kathy Bates, Jerry Reed. Comedy about a college's (South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs) lovable hick water boy, Bobby Boucher, who turns out to be their best defensive player. Some very entertaining sight gags but plot is thin. Rob Schneider, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Cowher, Lawrence Taylor, Dan Patrick, Chris Fowler, Brent Mussberger, Dan Fouts and Lynn Swann have cameos. [Mark Ellis again coached the actors but Sandler would not take part in any of the hitting.]
Possums (1998)… Mac Davis, Cynthia Sykes, Greg Coolidge, Andrew Prine, Jay Underwood. The local high school radio announcer for the pathetic Nowata Possums continues announcing even after the football program is canceled. He gets the whole team fired up after “winning” the state championship and has to play the real winner – Prattville – after the latter challenges them. The action scenes are poorly done. Former Oklahoma University coach Barry Switzer has a cameo as Prattville's coach.
Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon (1998)… Tony Danza, Jessica Tuck, Art LaFluer. Another typical Disney product. This time, a sanitation worker, Barney "Rubble" Gorman, is discovered for his kicking talents and signed to a contract with the hometown Eagles. About what you'd expect. Chris Berman and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie have cameos.
Air Bud: Golden Receiver (1998)… Tim Conway, Dick Martin, Kevin Zegers, Cynthia Stevenson, Gregory Harrison, Nora Dunn, Perry Anzilotti, Robert Costanzo. Air Bud now plays football instead of Basketball in Ferfield, Washington. A good one for the kids.
* Any Given Sunday (1999)… Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, James Woods, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor, Ann-Margaret, Matthew Modine, Charlton Heston. Pacino is great as Tony D'Amato, the head coach of the Miami Sharks who battles quarterback injuries, the deceased owner's demanding daughter and tradition itself to turn the team around. Foxx is good as QB Willie Beamen, Quaid as QB Jack "Cap" Rooney and Brown as the defensive coordinator. Football fans will love the game footage; movie buffs will hate the clichéd script although there are a couple of coach/player, coach/owner confrontations that catch your attention. Look fast for John Unitas and Dick Butkus as opposing coaches. Oliver Stone (Platoon, Wall Street, JFK) directed and co-wrote and appears briefly as a TV analyst. He could not get approval from the NFL for teams and logos so the league is called the AFFA (Associated Football Franchises of America). [The training camp for the players involved in the scenes was eight weeks, twice as long NFL teams. "We watched film," Mark Ellis said. "They hit in the mornings. They lifted weights in the afternoon. We put them through the drill.” Ellis, who also played the quarterback coach in the movie, now makes his living as a sports movie trainer… Foxx and Cool J don’t like each other in real life (according to Ellis) which make their stormy relationship in the movie all that more believable… Jim Brown was also an advisor on the set.]
Varsity Blues (1999)… James Van Der Beek, Jon Voight, Scott Caan, Amy Smart, Paul Walker, Ali Larter, Ron Lester, Eliel Swinton. John "Mox" Moxen (Van Der Beek of TV's Dawson's Creek) is the backup quarterback for a perennially champion Texas high school team. Head coach Bud Kilmer (Voight in another fine performance) is obsessed with winning and pushes his players mercilessly. Mox rebels when he has to play for the injured starter. Worth seeing for morality message and fine acting but script suffers from uneven story line. Not suitable for the kids either.
Fumbleheads (1999)… Mark Curry, Ed Asner, Barry Corbin, Austin Pendleton, Gregory Sporleder. Quimby Falls fans, enraged over the fact that the owner took their Buzzards football team away from them, try to kidnap him. When that plan fails, they kidnap the quarterback, Fly Walker. Not much here. The film was dedicated to the fans of the 41 cities that lost their pro sports franchise.
* The Replacements (2000)… Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, Brook Langton, Orlando Jones, Jon Favreau, Jack Warden. Reeves plays a rejuvenated quarterback and Hackman a coach of a fictional pro team (Washington Sentinels). Loosely based on the replacement players who took over in the strike year of 1987. Mostly filmed in Baltimore's PSINet Stadium. Mark Ellis again coached the actors and has a bit part as the San Diego head coach. John Madden and Pat Summerall appear as themselves.
* Remember the Titans (2000)… Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst, Donald Adeosun Faison, Craig Kirkwood, Ethan Suplee, Kip Pardue, Hayden Panettiere, Nicole Ari Parker, Kate Bosworth. Based on the true story of the integration of the T.C. Williams High School football players in 1971 Virginia. Washington plays real life coach Herman Boone. Good, solid performances all around.
* Go Tigers (2001)… Excellent documentary of the Massillon (Ohio) Tigers high school football team. Director Kenneth Carlson captures the spirit and pride of the team in a town just 20 miles from the Pro Football Hall of Fame where football was born. The focus is on the town that draws its identity from football and Dave Irwin, Ellery Moore, and Danny Studer, co-captains of the team. Filmed on location during the 1999 season at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. Too much profanity for the young ones though.
They Call Me Sirr (2001)… Kente Scott, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jackie Richardson, Karen Robinson, Novie Edwards, Chris Collins, Doron Bell, Jr. Sirr Parker, raised in tough South Central Los Angeles, was abandoned by his junkie mother and raised by his grandmother until Coach Griffin takes him under his wing at Locke High School. Meant to be an inspirational story, the former Texas A&M standout was signed as a 1998 undrafted rookie free agent by the San Diego Chargers and makes their practice squad but was waived and signed by two more teams before he finally switched positions and stuck with the Cincinnati Bengals for the last three games of the 2000 season. He was then released for a very minor violation of team off-season rules regarding place of residence. “You can easily view the circumstances in South Central L.A. as excuses, or no one will look down on you if you come out a certain way,” Parker said. “I just want to let people know there are good kids in South Central, in all of Los Angeles, in deprived neighborhoods all over the country who are determined to succeed.” A Showtime movie.
Full Ride (2001)… Riley Smith, Meredith Monroe, Jade Dixon. The love of a good woman inspires undisciplined delinquent Matt Sabo to get a college scholarship to play football. Average at best.
* Jim Brown: All American (2002)… Spike Lee’s documentary of the Cleveland Browns Hall of Famer not only covers his football and Hollywood career but also his community activism and black awareness programs. He also touches on the domestic abuse charges for which Brown served jail time. Included are interviews with his high school coach, his wife, his children and celebrities including Bill Russell, Raquel Welch, Oliver Stone and Fred Williamson. An HBO production.
Brian's Song (2002)… Mekhi Phifer, Sean Maher as Brian Piccolo, Ben Gazzara, Elise Neal, Janessa Crimi, Aidan Devine. The close friendship between Chicago Bears star Gale Sayers and backup running back Brian Piccolo is reexamined here. Piccolo helps Sayers come back from a serious knee injury but eventually succumbs to cancer at age 26. Remake of 1970 TV-movie.
The Second String (2002)… Gil Bellows, Jon Voight, Teri Polo, Richard T. Jones. The Buffalo Bills suffer food poisoning on the eve of their first playoff game and the starters are out three weeks. The backups come in and, led by quarterback Dan Heller (Bellows) and wide receiver Gerry Fullerton (Jones), get them to the Super Bowl. Doug Flutie, who plays one of the injured starters, has a bit part in this TV-movie along with Mike Ditka, Chris Berman, Donovan Greer and Van Miller, radio voice of the Bills. A TNT production.
The Last Game (2002)… Documentary follows a season of high school coach Mike Pettine, with 300 wins in 32 years as the winningest coach in Pennsylvania history, and his Central Bucks West Bucks. Heading into what might be his last game before retirement, and with a 30-game win streak on the line, he is matched up against his son as the rival coach. Well worth a viewing.
Australian Rules (2002)… From www.imdb.com: In Prospect Bay, a remote outpost on the South Australian coast, two communities, the Goonyas (whites) and the Nungas (blacks), come together on the one field they have in common, the football field. But the underlying racism and class warfare threatens to make the team's greatest victories irrelevant. This holds particularly true for Blacky, a white teen who is more interested in books than sport, and his best friend, Dumby, the Aboriginal star of the team.
The Slaughter Rule (2002)… Ryan Gosling, David Morse, Clea DuVall. From imdb.com: A young man finds solace with a young woman, his mother, and a high-school football coach who recruits him to quarterback a six-man team.
Hometown Legend (2002)… Terry O'Quinn, Lacey Chabert, Nick Cornish, Kirk B.R. Woller, Ian Bohen, Mary Pat Gleason, Mark McLachlan. A teenage drifter finds a new meaning in his life when he joins an Alabama high school football team with a hard-nosed coach. Suitable for family viewing.
The Junction Boys (2002)… Tom Berenger, Fletcher Humphrys, Ryan Kwanten, Bernard Curry. Texas A&M coach Paul "Bear" Bryant works team out in Junction, Texas during the summer of 1954 with drill sergeant-like toughness. Based on Jim Dent's book by the same name. An ESPN Original Entertainment production.
* Radio (2003)… Cuba Gooding Jr., Ed Harris, Riley Smith, Sarah Drew. From www.imdb.com: This is the decades-long story of the relationship between a prominent high school football coach (Harris) in a small South Carolina town and the illiterate, mentally-challenged man nicknamed Radio (Gooding) whom he mentors, who before that had always been the target of jokes and teasing by the community. Although their friendship raises some eyebrows at first, Radio's growth under the coach's guidance ultimately inspires the local townsfolk, from 1964 when he first starts helping the Hanna Yellow Jackets football team, through a 38+ career with the school that continues today (2002), including tenures as the head cheerleader, assistant coach and team manager.
Playmakers (2003)… Omar Gooding, Marcello Thedford, Christopher Wiehl, Jason Matthew Smith, Russell Hornsby. An 11-episode ESPN series about off-field lives of a group of players on a pro football team.
The Season: Behind Bars (2003)… Behind-the-scenes documentary following the season of the Giddings (Texas) School football team where all the players are in maximum-security juvenile detention. An ESPN Original Entertainment production.
Year of the Bull (2003)… A documentary following a Northwestern high school football player Taurean Charles on and off the field in Miami's impoverished Liberty City neighborhood. The school has produced various college athletes as well as several players who made it to the NFL. Powerful.
* Friday Night Lights (2004)… Billy Bob Thornton, Lucas Black, Derek Luke, Garrett Hedlund, Jay Hernandez, Lee Jackson, Tim McGraw. A small Texas town rallies behind third high school football team. Based on a non-fiction book by H.G. Bissinger about the economically depressed football-crazy town of Odessa and the Permian High Panthers. Real Permian coaches are used as is live-action game sequences from the ‘03 season shot on location at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa and the Astrodome in Houston.
* The Longest Yard (2005)… Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds, James Cromwell, Walter Williamson, Michael Irvin, Nelly, Edward Bunker. Prison inmates form a football team to challenge the prison guards. Remake of the 1974 film. Ex-NFL players Irvin, Bill Romanowski, Terry Crews, Conrad Goode, Bob Sapp and Brian Bosworth appear. Steve Austin, Bill Goldberg, Dalip Singh and Kevin Nash are former pro wrestlers. Burt Reynolds and Ed Lauter are the only two actors from the original film to appear in the remake. Producer Jack Giarraputo had Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden design some plays for the movie.
Two For The Money (2005)… Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Russo. After suffering a career-ending injury, a former college football star gets mixed up in the sports-gambling business.
The Man Who Lost Himself (2005)… David James Elliott, Wendy Crewson, Katie Boland, Clare Stone, Tatum Knight, Joshua Close, Nanci Chambers. Terry Evanshen has a beautiful wife and family and becomes a Canadian football star. Then a car accident gives him permanent brain damage causing erratic and aggressive behavior.
* Invincible (2006)… Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear, Elizabeth Banks, Kirk Acevedo, Lola Glaudini. The true story of 30-year-old, part-time bartender (who never played college football!) and Philadelphia Eagles season ticket holder Vince Papale, who attended an unprecedented Eagles’ open tryout in 1976 and rose to become captain of the team. Michael J. Fox has a small part as an angry fan at the gate.
* We Are Marshall (2006)… Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, Anthony Mackie, David Strathaim, Ian McShane. True story based on the November 14, 1970 plane crash that wiped out half of the Marshall University football team and some of its fans. The new coach (Jack Lengyel) then rebuilds the “Thundering Herd” program. Nate Ruffin, a player who missed the fatal flight, helped convince the board of governors to play the 1971 season. They also petitioned the NCAA to allow freshmen to play. The plane was carrying 37 players, eight coaches, 25 boosters, four flight crew, and one charter company employee. The plane crashed into a hill just short of Tri-State Airport WV. The new team is composed mostly of the 18 surviving players (three varsity, 15 sophomores) and walk-on athletes from other Marshall sports programs.
[In a bizarre coincidence, another college football team plane crash happened a month before. On Friday, October 2, 1970, the Wichita State University football team charter crashed into a mountain eight miles west of Silver Plume, Colorado. Of the 37 passengers and a crew of three; 29 were killed at the scene and two later died of their injuries. The team was traveling to Logan, Utah, for a game against Utah State University. A second aircraft with more team members flew a different route and arrived safely in Utah.]
Gridiron Gang (2006)… Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Xzibit, Danny Martinez, Maurice McRae, Mo, Trever O'Brien, Six Reasons, Brandon Smith, Jade Yorker, Robert Zepeda, Michael J. Pagan, Kevin Dunn, Leon Rippy. Based on a true story, teenage felons at a juvenile detention camp, led by their probation officer, form a high school football team in four weeks. It’s about football, self-esteem and social responsibility.
* Facing the Giants (2006)… Alex Kendrick, Shannen Fields, Tracy Goode, James Blackwell, Bailey Cave, Jim McBride, Jason McLeod. Inspirational film about a Christian high school football coach who uses his faith to succeed on and off the field. Excellent family viewing. University of Georgia head coach Mark Richt has a cameo. Most of the cast and crew were members of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Don’t miss the scene where Brock is coaxed by coach Taylor to crawl the length of the football field with a man on his back. Kendrick also directed, co-produced and co-wrote the film.
The Comebacks (2007)… David Koechner, Melora Hardin, Matthew Lawrence, Brooke Nevin, Nick Searcy, Carl Weathers. Lambeau Fields, the worst college football coach in history, has new hope for his latest group of loser recruits. Along the way, he makes amends with his family. Filmed as a sports parody with lots of crude humor. Bradley Cooper, Dennis Rodman, Bill Buckner, Eric Dickerson, Michael Irvin, John Salley and Lawrence Taylor have cameos.
Leaf (2007)…Tim Carr. Kind of a biography of quarterback Ryan Leaf, who was the biggest bust of the 1998 player draft chosen second overall by the San Diego Chargers. He may have had the talent but did not have the maturity or leadership skills for the position and was out of the league three years later. Several NFL players appear as themselves.
The Game Plan (2007)… Dwayne Johnson, Madison Pettis, Kyra Sedgwick, Roselyn Sanchez, Morris Chestnut. A bachelor NFL quarterback discovers that he has an 8-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. A decent Disney family movie.
Leatherheads (2008)… George Clooney, Renee Zellweger, John Krasinski. The owner of a 1920s professional football team (Duluth Bulldogs) talks a top college star to play on his failing team. Could’ve been better. [Dodge Connelly (Clooney) was loosely based on old-time football star Johnny "Blood" McNally, who also had his share of off-field incidents. Carter “The Bullitt” Rutherford (Krasinski) is loosely based on Red Grange. His agent in the movie, C.C. Frazier, is based on his real-life agent C.C. Pyle.]
* The Express (2008)… Rob Brown, Dennis Quaid, A biography of former Heisman Trophy running back Ernie Davis, who died tragically of Leukemia a few months after he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1962. He broke Jim Brown's rushing records at Syracuse and became the first African-American to win the coveted Heisman Award. Cleveland head coach Paul Brown traded star halfback Bobby Mitchell to the Washington Redskins for the draft rights to Davis. New team owner Art Modell was not informed of the deal ahead of time, beginning a rift between the owner and the Hall of Fame coach leading to Brown’s dismissal two years later. Davis died on May 18, 1963, at the age of 23. He did not appear in a game but the team retired his No. 45 jersey anyway. Mitchell went on to a Hall of Fame career as a flanker for the Redskins.
The Longshots (2008)… Ice Curb, Keke Plummer, Tasha Smith. From imdb.com: The true story of Jasmine Plummer who, at the age of eleven, became the first female to play in Pop Warner football tournament in its 56-year history.
* Blind Side (2009)… Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw. The true story about the unlikely rise and education of NFL offensive lineman Michael Oher (pronounced "oar"). Bullock and McGraw play Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy (pronounced two-hee), the wealthy, white, evangelical couple who rescued Oher off the streets of Memphis, Tenn.
Big Fan (2009)… Patton Oswalt, Kevin Corrigan, Miachael Rappaport. NY Giants fan Paul Aufiero lives and dies with his team until he has an encounter with his favorite player.
* The Tillman Story (2010)… Pat Tillman left the glory and riches of the NFL to enlist after 911 and was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan a few years later. This is his story and the story of the military cover-up that his mother ("It's not about my son anymore is about the American people") worked hard to expose. Some feel his death wasn't an accident (he was supposedly going to write an anti-war book) and that is why people are upset about what the military did.
Fifth Quarter (2010)... Ryan Merriman, Aidan Quinn, Andie McDowell. A star player on a Wake Forest high school football team is killed by a reckless teenage driver. His parents set up a foundation in his honor, and his brother inspires the team. Based on a true story
Division III: Football’s Finest (2011)… Andy Dick, Marshall Cook, Paul Henderson, Adam Carolla, Will Sasso. For media attention, a perennial losing small college team hires a racist redneck as head coach. He somehow motivates the prima donna quarterback and turns the program around.
Turkey Bowl (2011)... Morgan Beck, Adam Benic, Kerry Bishé, Troy Buchanan. A group of friends play an annual game of touch football. Mostly about friendship and relationships.
Touchback (2012)… Brian Presley, Kurt Russell, Melanie Lynskey, Marc Blucas, Christine Lahti, Sarah Wright, Drew Powell, Steve Turner. A depressed and broke soybean farmer goes back in time 15 years to an Ohio high school game in which a knee injury ended his promising collegiate and professional career. Barry Sanders appears as the Cuyahoga Coach.
Glickman (2013)… Portrait of Marty Glickman who went from the 1936 Olympics to a Hall-of-Fame broadcasting career. He was a world class sprinter, a star football player at Syracuse, and then started his 53 years as a sports announcer, mostly in New York for the Knicks, Giants and Jets. He was also the voice of the Yonkers Raceway for 12 years. The film also delves into some of the prejudices and anti-Semitism he faced throughout his life.
Underdogs (2013)… Logan Huffman D. B. Sweeney. A young quarterback on a struggling high-school football team gets a new head coach who recruits several new players. Eventually, a charity football game between the rival teams is scheduled.
Unitas We Stand (2014)… From the website: “After experiencing a devastating personal loss, a young man, through sheer determination and his God-given talent, proves the experts wrong to become one of the greatest players in the history of the game.” The movie is based on the best-selling book: “Johnny U: The Life and Times of Johnny Unitas” by Tom Callahan. Joe Flacco plays Unitas in the final scene of the 1958 championship game.
* Draft Day (2014)… Kevin Costner, Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Frank Langella, Arian Foster. Costner plays the GM of the Cleveland Browns who wants to take an impact linebacker with the #7 overall pick in the draft. But the owner forces him to make a “splash” on draft day so he makes a stupid trade for the #1 pick and the drama unfolds. Inconsistencies exist for the hard-core NFL fan but it’s still a pretty good movie if you don’t take it too seriously. Many cameos.
When the Game Stands Tall (2014)… Jim Caviezel, Alexander Ludwig, Michael Chiklis, Laura Dern. The story of football coach Bob Ladouceur, who led the De La Salle High School Spartans on an incredible 151-game winning streak. A secondary storyline involves star running back Chris Ryan (Ludwig), who is under pressure from his father (Clancy Brown) to break the all-time touchdown record. A true story based on a Christian theme.
My All-American (2015)… Robin Tunney, Sarah Bolger, Aaron Eckhart, Finn Wittrock, Rett Terrell, Juston Street. A serious illness interrupts star defensive back Freddie Steinmark’s championship season with the Texas Longhorns in 1969. Based on the book Courage Beyond the Game, by Jim Dent. Directed by Angelo Pizzo, the screenwriter for Rudy and Hoosiers. A true story.
* Woodlawn (2015)… Caleb Castille, Sean Astin, Jon Voight. True story of RB Tony Nathan concentrating on his high school career while turning to his Christian faith to conquer racial tensions on and off the field. Nathan was a running back from Alabama who was selected in the third round in 1979 by the Miami Dolphins, with whom he played from 1979-1987. His father played for the Denver Broncos.
Concussion (2015)… Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Stephen Moyer, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Eddie Marsan, Luke Wilson, Albert Brooks. True story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, who made the first discovery of CTE, a football-related brain trauma.
Before the West Coast (2016)… imdb.com: The story of Coach Otis Washington and the St. Augustine High School football program of New Orleans during the thirteen years following the 1967 federal court ruling that approved St. Augustine's competition in Louisiana's all-White high school sports association.
Greater (2016)… Christopher Severio, Neal McDonough, Michael Parks. Brandon Burlsworth wasn't good enough to play Division I football, or so they said. But he made the Arkansas team as a walk-on in 1994 becoming an All-American and then drafted by the NFL. Based on a true story.
The Gridiron (2016)… Derek tries hard but fails at everything. But then forms an American Football team in England. But his determination is alienating the people around him until he rights himself. Based on a true story in 1985.
The Rocket (2018)… Brady Tutton. A high school football star suffers a severe head injury, must give up the game, and suffers a broken relationship with his father. A series of events lands him on the cross-country team and he finds a new way to succeed. Inspired by true events.
The Turkey Bowl (2019)… Ryan Hansen, Matt Jones, Kristen Hager, Davone McDonald, Harland Williams. A group of high school buddies conspire to finish a Thanksgiving Day game (The Turkey Bowl) that was snowed out fifteen years ago. Typical sports comedy with a hero, romance and a few laughs.
* American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story (2021)… Zachary Levi, Anna Paquin, Dennis Quaid, Adam Baldwin, Virginia Madsen. The inspirational true story of an NFL quarterback who overcomes many problems to become an NFL MVP (twice), Super Bowl champion and Hall of Famer.
12 Mighty Orphans (2021) … Luke Wilson, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall. A new coach at the Masonic School for Orphans in Texas organizes a football team during the great depression of the 1920s. He leads them to the state championship by coming up with innovated formations and plays. A true story based on the book, Twelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football by Jim Dent.
Home Team (2022)… Kevin James, Taylor Lautner. James plays New Orleans head coach Sean Payton who won Super Bowl XLIV in 2010 and then was suspended in 2012 (Bountygate) for one year. He accepts a job coaching his son’s sixth grade team which is the basis for this so-so comedy.
Next Goal Wins (2022)… Michael Fassbender, Elisabeth Moss, Will Arnett, Frankie Adams. A Dutch-American football coach takes over struggling American Samoa national football team. But he improves them enough to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Based on a true story.