The Longest Yard (1974)

R | 120, 121 or 123 mins | Comedy-drama | October 1974

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HISTORY

       In a 29 Apr 1973 NYT news item the producer indicated that shooting for The Longest Yard would start in Oklahoma in Sep 1973 and that the story centered on a football star imprisoned for murder. An undated but contemporary news item added that location shooting for the film would take place in Oklahoma’s McAlester Penitentiary.
       According to an 8 Aug 1973 Var item, a violent riot at McAlester resulted in Paramount having to withdraw from shooting there and search for another location. A Box item on 20 Aug 1973 added that Ruddy and director Robert Aldrich subsequently scouted prison locations in Georgia, Missouri and Alabama. A 5 Sep 1973 Var article announced that the Georgia State Prison was the new location for The Longest Yard . Other location shooting occurred in nearby Reidsville according to HR production charts. Another Var item from the same month stated that soul and funk singer Barry White was slated for a role in The Longest Yard , but he was not in the film.
       An Oct 1973 DV item mistakenly stated that Anitra Ford was the only female cast in the film. In addition to Ford, who played “Melissa”, “Paul Crewe’s” girlfriend, Bernadette Peters appeared in the role of the warden’s secretary, “Miss Toot.” A 19 Dec 1973 Var noted that the warden of the Georgia State Prison had given his approval for several gay prisoners to appear in the film as cheerleaders for “The Mean Machine” prisoners' team. Although the item mentioned ... More Less

       In a 29 Apr 1973 NYT news item the producer indicated that shooting for The Longest Yard would start in Oklahoma in Sep 1973 and that the story centered on a football star imprisoned for murder. An undated but contemporary news item added that location shooting for the film would take place in Oklahoma’s McAlester Penitentiary.
       According to an 8 Aug 1973 Var item, a violent riot at McAlester resulted in Paramount having to withdraw from shooting there and search for another location. A Box item on 20 Aug 1973 added that Ruddy and director Robert Aldrich subsequently scouted prison locations in Georgia, Missouri and Alabama. A 5 Sep 1973 Var article announced that the Georgia State Prison was the new location for The Longest Yard . Other location shooting occurred in nearby Reidsville according to HR production charts. Another Var item from the same month stated that soul and funk singer Barry White was slated for a role in The Longest Yard , but he was not in the film.
       An Oct 1973 DV item mistakenly stated that Anitra Ford was the only female cast in the film. In addition to Ford, who played “Melissa”, “Paul Crewe’s” girlfriend, Bernadette Peters appeared in the role of the warden’s secretary, “Miss Toot.” A 19 Dec 1973 Var noted that the warden of the Georgia State Prison had given his approval for several gay prisoners to appear in the film as cheerleaders for “The Mean Machine” prisoners' team. Although the item mentioned that the men filmed a song and dance routine, the all-male cheerleading squad, in drag, is only shown in brief excerpts during the football game in the completed film. A running gag in the film involved Mort Marshall, as the assistant warden, accompanying “Warden Hazen” everywhere, recording his comments. Marshall's only spoken word of dialogue is “History,” which is directed at Hazen after the “Mean Machine” beats the “Guard Defense.”
       Several professional football players appeared in The Longest Yard including Ray Nitschke, Joe Kapp, Gene (Dino) Washington and Mike Henry. Star Burt Reynolds had been a promising college football half-back for Florida State University when his career was cut short by a serious knee injury. Although it received mixed reviews, The Longest Yard was the sixteenth highest grossing film at the box office in 1974, taking in more than $10,000,000 in North America. Michael Luciano earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Film Editing for the picture.
       In 2001, SKA Films produced The Mean Machine , based on the original Tracy Keenan Wynn script for The Longest Yard , but moved the setting to England and changed the sport from football to soccer. The Mean Machine starred Vinny Jones and was directed by Barry Skolnick. In 2005, Paramount remade The Longest Yard , directed by Peter Segal and starring Adam Sandler as "Crew," Chris Rock as "Caretaker" and Burt Reynolds in the role of "Coach Scarborough.”
      The end credits contain an acknowledgement to then Governor Jimmy Carter and the State of Georgia, and to Warden Joe Hopper and all the inmates of the Georgia State Prison at Reidsville for their assistance in making the picture. According to a 13 Nov 1968 HR news item, novelist Malcolm Braly had been signed by Paramount to write a script based on producer-screenwriter Albert S. Ruddy’s original story, The Longest Yard . In an Army Archerd column in DV on 4 May 1972, Ruddy also was listed as director of the project, but this may have been in error. A 15 Jun 1972 HR item noted that Ruddy had signed Tracy Keenan Wynn as screenwriter and no additional information of Braly’s contribution to the final script has been located. The Longest Yard was Ruddy’s first produced feature film story.
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 Aug 1973.
---
Box Office
17 Sep 1973.
---
Box Office
8 Oct 1973.
---
Box Office
2 Sep 1974
p. 4718.
Daily Variety
4 May 1972.
---
Daily Variety
10 Aug 1973.
---
Daily Variety
10 Oct 1973.
---
Daily Variety
13 Oct 1973.
---
Daily Variety
26 Oct 1973.
---
Daily Variety
10 May 2001.
---
Daily Variety
22 Jul 2003.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Nov 1968.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 1973
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 1973
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Aug 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 1974
p. 4, 10.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
25 Sep 1974.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Sep 1974
Section IV, p. 1.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
4 Sep 1974
p. 25.
New York Times
29 Apr 1973.
---
New York Times
22 Aug 1974
p. 28.
Newsweek
16 Sep 1974
p. 79.
Time
23 Sep 1974
p. 6.
Variety
8 Aug 1973.
---
Variety
5 Sep 1973.
---
Variety
19 Sep 1973.
---
Variety
19 Dec 1973.
---
Variety
28 Aug 1974
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Albert S. Ruddy production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir [Car chase]
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
Stillman
Best boy
Best boy
Head grip
Dolly grip
Asst grip
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Assoc ed [Football seq]
Assoc ed [Football seq]
Assoc ed [Football seq]
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Landscaper
Const coord
COSTUMES
Ward asst
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Mont / Modern film eff
Title des
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Dial supv
Prod mgr
Asst to prod
Unit pub
Scr supv
Casting
Prod services furnished by
Transportation capt
Auditor
Prod secy
Dir's secy
Prod asst
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
SONGS
"Teach Me to Cheat," by Kenneth E. Bell, Terry Nelson Skinner and J. L. Wallace, sung by Judy Kester
"Roadside Roses," composer undetermined, sung Jack Barlow, recording supervised by Jim Foglesong
"Paramount on Parade," by Elsie Janis and Jack King
+
SONGS
"Teach Me to Cheat," by Kenneth E. Bell, Terry Nelson Skinner and J. L. Wallace, sung by Judy Kester
"Roadside Roses," composer undetermined, sung Jack Barlow, recording supervised by Jim Foglesong
"Paramount on Parade," by Elsie Janis and Jack King
"Born Free," by John Barry and Donald Black and "You Got to Be a Football Hero" by Al Sherman, Al Lewis and Buddy Fields, performed by The Soul Touchers Band and Chorus.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
October 1974
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 21 August 1974
Los Angeles opening: 25 September 1974
Production Date:
20 September--late December 1973 in Reidsville, GA
Copyright Claimant:
Long Road Productions
Copyright Date:
29 July 1974
Copyright Number:
LP43772
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
120, 121 or 123
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Tiring of his self-absorbed, long-time girlfriend Melissa, former football quarterback Paul Crewe steals her Maserati. After a wild chase with the police, Paul pushes the car into the river, after which he is arrested, convicted and sentenced to two to five years at Florida’s Citrus State Prison. At the prison, head guard, Captain Wilhelm Knauer informs Paul that he leads the prison’s football team and warns him not to accept any requests from the warden to become involved with the team. Later warden Rudolph Hazen welcomes Paul, who was known in his professional days as “The Wrecking Crew,” and reveals his determination to have his prison guards’ football team win the semi-pro league championship. Although Paul points out that he has not played in eight years, Hazen asks him to be the team’s coach. When Paul refuses, Hazen assigns him to the harshest work detail in the prison. Over the next few weeks, Paul, who is well known for having been thrown out of pro-football for participating in a point-shaving scam, endures taunts from fellow prisoners who call him “superstar,” and brutal physical abuse from the guards. Despite this, fellow inmate James “Caretaker” Ferrell befriends Paul but wonders why the former athlete threw away a successful career. Paul is also supported by Pop, the prison’s oldest inmate, who, years earlier, received an additional thirty years for striking then-guard Hazen. After Paul resists Knauer’s attempt to club him during the work detail, he spends days in solitary confinement in “the box.” On his release, Paul is taken to Hazen who wants the guards’ team to have a tune-up game ... +


Tiring of his self-absorbed, long-time girlfriend Melissa, former football quarterback Paul Crewe steals her Maserati. After a wild chase with the police, Paul pushes the car into the river, after which he is arrested, convicted and sentenced to two to five years at Florida’s Citrus State Prison. At the prison, head guard, Captain Wilhelm Knauer informs Paul that he leads the prison’s football team and warns him not to accept any requests from the warden to become involved with the team. Later warden Rudolph Hazen welcomes Paul, who was known in his professional days as “The Wrecking Crew,” and reveals his determination to have his prison guards’ football team win the semi-pro league championship. Although Paul points out that he has not played in eight years, Hazen asks him to be the team’s coach. When Paul refuses, Hazen assigns him to the harshest work detail in the prison. Over the next few weeks, Paul, who is well known for having been thrown out of pro-football for participating in a point-shaving scam, endures taunts from fellow prisoners who call him “superstar,” and brutal physical abuse from the guards. Despite this, fellow inmate James “Caretaker” Ferrell befriends Paul but wonders why the former athlete threw away a successful career. Paul is also supported by Pop, the prison’s oldest inmate, who, years earlier, received an additional thirty years for striking then-guard Hazen. After Paul resists Knauer’s attempt to club him during the work detail, he spends days in solitary confinement in “the box.” On his release, Paul is taken to Hazen who wants the guards’ team to have a tune-up game before the championship and orders Paul to put together a prisoners' team in four weeks and play quarterback. When Paul declines, insisting that he just wants to serve his eighteen months uneventfully, Hazen reminds him that is his eighteen months parole date, but his sentence could stretch to five years. Grudgingly accepting Hazen’s terms, Paul joins Caretaker in posting sign-up sheets around the prison yard, but the inmates are slow to respond despite their realization that a competition would allow them to rough up the guards “legally.” Disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm, Paul later welcomes volunteer and former pro-player Nate Scarboro, appointing him head coach. The next night, Paul, Caretaker and Nate break into the records office to evaluate the prisoners’ records and learn who among the playing guards have exploitable injuries. Over the next few days, Paul and Nate recruit the strongest and largest prisoners, but when Paul admits he simply wants the team to “get by,” Nate advises him that the only way to overcome Hazen’s clear intention to humiliate the prisoners, is to ensure that they win. Knowing they need the abilities of various black players, some of whom were pro-players, Paul makes a direct plea to them, but they remain suspicious of his reputation, even after black former player Granville agrees to join the team. Although the skills of the men Paul brings together vary, he and Nate begin intense practice sessions. Mistrustful of shifty, older inmate Unger, Paul turns down his plea to be the team’s manager, telling him that Caretaker already holds the position. Affronted, Unger goes to Knauer to reveal details of the prisoners’ workouts, assuring him that the only player to fear is Granville. Knauer orders his guards to goad Granville into misbehavior so they can attack him, but Granville refuses to respond to their taunts. After a particularly poor practice session, Paul happily welcomes several black prisoners who join the team for the better food and avoidance of work detail. Later during a strategy session, when Paul asks Caretaker about stealing the guards’ game films, Caretaker tells him that he will have to “pay” for them. Puzzled, Paul accompanies Caretaker after hours to the warden’s office where Hazen’s secretary, Miss Toot, provides the films in exchange for sex with Paul. At later practice sessions, Pop, Nate and Granville instruct the players how to cause the most physical damage to their opponents with the least possible evidence. One evening a few days before the game, Caretaker again asks Paul why he ruined his career and Paul admits it was for money to provide for his blind father for the rest of his life, even though his father died soon after. Meanwhile, Knauer summons Unger to cancel his privileges for offering his services to the prisoners’ team. Terrified that a return to the general prison population will result in the other prisoners’ attacking him, Unger plans revenge against Paul, who had told Knauer about his offer to help the team. A couple of evenings before the game, as Paul, Nate and Caretaker go over the starting roster, Paul asks Caretaker to retrieve medical files from his cell. When Caretaker pulls on the cell’s overhead light chain, the bulb bursts, showering Caretaker with flammable fluid and sparks which sets him ablaze. Unger, who had tampered with the bulb, then slams the cell door shut, preventing the horrified men from coming in, to prevent their friend’s death. On game day, crowds of locals attend the competition, which has been publicized as part of Hazen’s prison reform initiative. In the locker room, Hazen tells the prison team that the field is surrounded by armed guards who have been ordered to shoot any player attempting to escape. After Knauer leads the Guard Defense Unit team onto the field, the prison team is introduced as the Mean Machine, and Hazen and Knauer are shocked to see them wearing the guards’ black jersey competition uniforms, which were secretly confiscated by Caretaker before his death. The game commences with vicious clashes between the sides, and at half-time the score is the Guards 15, the Mean Machine 13. An outraged Hazen then meets Paul in the locker room to demand that he not only stifle the efforts of the Machine to win, but also provide the Guard a twenty-one point lead. When Paul stoutly refuses, Hazen reveals that Unger has confessed to murdering Caretaker but implicated Paul in the plot which would give the quarterback a minimum of an additional twenty years. Angered, but realizing that he has no other choice, Paul acquiesces. When the second half opens, Paul deliberately hesitates, allowing himself to be sacked, then throws two interceptions in a row, both of which result in quick scores for the Guard. After the Guard scores a third time, the members of the Machine realize that Paul is deliberately throwing the game. Although Paul feigns an injury to remove himself from the game, Nate and Granville express their disappointment in him. Later, after Granville is taken to the infirmary with a broken collarbone and the Guard continue in their relentless abuse of the Machine, the frustrated Paul asks Pop if hitting Hazen was worth the additional thirty years and the old man admits that it was. Going back into the game, Paul takes several brutal hits when his teammates refuse to defend him. Nate, who has not played in many years, puts himself in the game and, to his delight, scores on a pass from Paul before being injured by an intentional late tackle. The Machine players are still unsure about Paul, until he forces a touchdown, bringing the score to 35 to 27 in the fourth quarter. The Machine then kick a field goal, raising their score to 30, but find themselves pinned at the Guard’s one yard line, seemingly unable to score again. With seven seconds remaining in the game, Paul walks to the sideline, followed by his team, and exhorts them to win for Granville, Nate and Caretaker. With that, the Mean Machine return to the field and on the final play Paul makes a game winning dive into the end zone. After the team celebration, as Paul walks across the field, the furious Hazen, suspecting that Paul is headed toward the exit, orders a shocked Knauer to fire upon him. Aiming at Paul’s back, Knauer calls his name repeatedly with no response, but when the quarterback retrieves the game ball, Knauer lowers the rifle. Paul then presents the ball to the apoplectic Hazen, before heading to the locker room with Pop. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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