The Best of Times (1986)

PG-13 | 104 mins | Comedy | 31 January 1986

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HISTORY

       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, writer Ron Shelton arrived at the concept for his story after observing ten thousand former students from his high school attend an alumni football game, organized as a charity fund-raiser. He concluded that the enthusiastic turnout demonstrated a deep-seeded need for people to revisit the past. In 1981, producer Gordon Carroll hired Shelton to write the script, which was originally conceived to be an ensemble piece, but in later drafts, the focus switched to the “Jack Dundee” character.
       As reported in a Jan 1986 Box article, the rival teams in the climactic football game were made up of ten cast members, thirty-five professional football players, and thirty-five background actors along with an additional one thousand background actor-fans sitting in the bleachers. Football sequences were bolstered by the following professional football players, who did not receive onscreen credit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive lineman, Kelly Thomas, New York Jets’ punter, Chuck Ramsey, Minnesota Vikings’ offensive lineman, Steve Riley, Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive back, Herman Edwards, Green Bay Packers’ linebacker, Mike Douglas, and Huston Oilers’ center, Jim Romano.
       A 4 Jan 1985 LAT news item and a 29 Jan 1985 HR production chart announced that principal photography began on 7 Jan 1985 in Taft, CA. A 15 Jan 1985 DV article reported the budget was $12 million, and production notes stated that the company had a ten-week shooting schedule. According to a 22 Apr 1985 HR news item, principal photography was completed on that day.
       Production notes state that Shelton chose Taft, CA, as one of the film’s locations because he remembered ... More Less

       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, writer Ron Shelton arrived at the concept for his story after observing ten thousand former students from his high school attend an alumni football game, organized as a charity fund-raiser. He concluded that the enthusiastic turnout demonstrated a deep-seeded need for people to revisit the past. In 1981, producer Gordon Carroll hired Shelton to write the script, which was originally conceived to be an ensemble piece, but in later drafts, the focus switched to the “Jack Dundee” character.
       As reported in a Jan 1986 Box article, the rival teams in the climactic football game were made up of ten cast members, thirty-five professional football players, and thirty-five background actors along with an additional one thousand background actor-fans sitting in the bleachers. Football sequences were bolstered by the following professional football players, who did not receive onscreen credit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive lineman, Kelly Thomas, New York Jets’ punter, Chuck Ramsey, Minnesota Vikings’ offensive lineman, Steve Riley, Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive back, Herman Edwards, Green Bay Packers’ linebacker, Mike Douglas, and Huston Oilers’ center, Jim Romano.
       A 4 Jan 1985 LAT news item and a 29 Jan 1985 HR production chart announced that principal photography began on 7 Jan 1985 in Taft, CA. A 15 Jan 1985 DV article reported the budget was $12 million, and production notes stated that the company had a ten-week shooting schedule. According to a 22 Apr 1985 HR news item, principal photography was completed on that day.
       Production notes state that Shelton chose Taft, CA, as one of the film’s locations because he remembered it as an idyllic place where his grandfather lived, and where his own father spent his childhood. The production spent two weeks filming there. As stated in a 3 May 1985 W article, a scene in which actors Kurt Russell and Robin Williams sit in a bar after their wives kick them out of the house for watching Monday Night Football was filmed in the Safari Lounge at the Eagle Rock Bowling Lanes in Eagle Rock, CA. The Jan 1986 Box reported the production spent ten days on location in Moorpark, CA, filming the big football game that served as the film’s climax. Other locations included the Moose Lodge in Glendale, CA, used for lodge sequences, and the locker rooms at El Camino College in Redondo Beach, CA.

      End credits state: “‘20 Minute Workout’ segment courtesy of Orion Television, Inc.” The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “Athletic equipment and apparel provided by The Bike Athletic Company; maps courtesy of The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations; photos courtesy of Security Pacific National Bank Photo Collection, Los Angeles Public Library”; and, “We wish to thank the town of Taft, California for its hospitality and cooperation.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Jan 1986
p. 8.
Daily Variety
15 Jan 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Apr 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1985
p. 3, 8.
Los Angeles Times
4 Jan 1985.
---
Los Angeles Times
30 Jan 1986
p. 1, 8.
New York Times
31 Jan 1986
Section C, p. 20.
Variety
5 Feb 1986
p. 29.
W
3 May 1985.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Kings Road Entertainment Presents
A Gordon Carroll Production
produced in association with Cinema Group Venture
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d 2d asst dir
Asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam asst
Cam asst
Gaffer
Best boy grip
Dolly op
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Cam asst, 2d unit
Still photog
Still photog
Projectionist
ART DIRECTORS
Storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
Assoc ed
1st asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Paint foreman
Labor foreman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's cost supv
Women's cost supv
Costumer
MUSIC
Supv mus ed
Orch
Rec eng
Mus supv for The Blenders
Mus prod for The Blenders
Piano solos by
Synthesizers programmed and performed by
Synthesizers programmed and performed by
Synthesizer program engineered by
SOUND
Prod sd
Prod sd
Cableman
Sd, 2d unit
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
ADR ed
Asst sd ed
Post-prod and re-rec facilities at
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Asst spec eff
Main & end titles des and prod
Opticals by
DANCE
Choreog for The Blenders
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Asst makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting, Lynn Stalmaster & Associates
Visual consultant
Prod coord
Loc consultant and promotions
Asst loc consultant
Set adv
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Unit pub
Asst to Mr. Williams
Football coord
Trainer
Equip mgr
Craft service
Caterer
Caterer, Unique
Caterer, Unique
Extra casting
Extra casting, Extra Cast
First aid
STAND INS
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Processing by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad (About My Baby),” words and music by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Screen Gems--EMI Music, Inc., performed by Gigi and The Blenders
“He’s Sure The Boy I Love,” words and music by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Screen Gems--EMI Music, Inc., performed by Gigi and The Blenders
“(They Long To Be) Close To You,” lyric by Hal David, music by Burt Bacharach, Jac Music Co., Inc./Blue Seas Music, Inc./U. S. Songs, Inc.
+
SONGS
“Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad (About My Baby),” words and music by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Screen Gems--EMI Music, Inc., performed by Gigi and The Blenders
“He’s Sure The Boy I Love,” words and music by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Screen Gems--EMI Music, Inc., performed by Gigi and The Blenders
“(They Long To Be) Close To You,” lyric by Hal David, music by Burt Bacharach, Jac Music Co., Inc./Blue Seas Music, Inc./U. S. Songs, Inc.
“Remember Then,” words and music by Stan Vincent, Maureen Music, Inc., performed by The Earls, courtesy of Old Town Record Corp.
“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” words and music by Ewin Mac Coll, Stormking Music, Inc., performed by Roberta Flack, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“Land Of Hope And Glory” (“Pomp And Circumstance No. 1”), music by Sir Edward Elgar, words by Arthur Benson, used by arrangement with Boosey & Company Ltd. and Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
31 January 1986
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 31 January 1986
Production Date:
7 January--22 April 1985
Copyright Claimant:
Kings Road Entertainment, Inc., and Cinema Group Venture
Copyright Date:
25 March 1986
Copyright Number:
PA282761
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® Cameras by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
104
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27812
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Former Taft Union High School football player Jack Dundee is haunted by a night in 1972, when the Taft Rockets’ star quarterback, Reno Hightower, received a career-ending knee injury, yet threw a sixty-five yard pass to Jack in the end zone. Jack missed the catch, and it became known as Taft’s most devastating loss to the mighty Bakersfield High Bengals football team. Jack, a bank vice president, relives his horrifying past at his office through black and white newsreel footage. His wife, Elly, visits to ask for a donation to her charity event, and his father-in-law, The Colonel, stops by long enough to call Jack “butterfingers” and comment that Bakersfield’s excellent team should easily beat Taft at this year’s championship. Soon, Jack drives to his friend Reno’s auto repair shop to get his car fixed. Before he can tell Reno the problem, Reno’s wife, Gigi, tells him that she plans to move out to pursue a singing career and wants a divorce. Upon Reno’s return, Jack explains he wants a temporary fix versus a more expensive repair. As Jack drives away in a beat-up loaner car, Reno jokes that Jack brings his car to the shop every week just so he can drive the loaner to a massage parlor on the edge of town, and not be recognized. Jack denies the accusation, then drives to Darla Robinson’s massage parlor on the edge of town. There, Darla, former homecoming queen, listens to Jack’s obsessive guilt over losing the 1972 championship, and is tired of his complaints. She suggests it is time that he replays the game. At the Hightower home, Gigi puts her possessions in boxes, and confesses that she ... +


Former Taft Union High School football player Jack Dundee is haunted by a night in 1972, when the Taft Rockets’ star quarterback, Reno Hightower, received a career-ending knee injury, yet threw a sixty-five yard pass to Jack in the end zone. Jack missed the catch, and it became known as Taft’s most devastating loss to the mighty Bakersfield High Bengals football team. Jack, a bank vice president, relives his horrifying past at his office through black and white newsreel footage. His wife, Elly, visits to ask for a donation to her charity event, and his father-in-law, The Colonel, stops by long enough to call Jack “butterfingers” and comment that Bakersfield’s excellent team should easily beat Taft at this year’s championship. Soon, Jack drives to his friend Reno’s auto repair shop to get his car fixed. Before he can tell Reno the problem, Reno’s wife, Gigi, tells him that she plans to move out to pursue a singing career and wants a divorce. Upon Reno’s return, Jack explains he wants a temporary fix versus a more expensive repair. As Jack drives away in a beat-up loaner car, Reno jokes that Jack brings his car to the shop every week just so he can drive the loaner to a massage parlor on the edge of town, and not be recognized. Jack denies the accusation, then drives to Darla Robinson’s massage parlor on the edge of town. There, Darla, former homecoming queen, listens to Jack’s obsessive guilt over losing the 1972 championship, and is tired of his complaints. She suggests it is time that he replays the game. At the Hightower home, Gigi puts her possessions in boxes, and confesses that she is tired of their debts, and does not want to settle for second best. If Reno needs her, she will be at the Top Hat Motel. Meanwhile, Jack tries to persuade Reno to replay the 1972 game to boost the town’s morale, but Reno refuses. Next, Jack convinces The Colonel, the Bakersfield Bengals’ biggest booster, to take the challenge. When Jack tells Elly that he is going to remake history, Elly thinks he has lost his mind. She gives her husband an ultimatum: her or the game. When Jack chooses the game, Elly kicks him out of the house. Soon, Jack and Reno walk to the high school football field, where Jack reminds Reno of his glory days as a star quarterback. Reno again refuses to participate in what he believes would surely be an act of humiliation, but Jack knows that Reno is late with his shop mortgage payments, and suggests that if Reno agrees to play the game, he might arrange financing to ease his financial burden. Reno reluctantly agrees, but later visits his brother Charlie at the Caribou Lodge and persuades him to convince the other lodge members to reject Jack’s idea. As Jack wallows in depression, The Colonel informs him that he has successfully recruited members of the old Bakersfield Bengals team. He taunts Jack and hangs up. At the Safari Room bar, Gigi performs on stage in a girl group as Reno drinks beer. Meanwhile, Jack resorts to desperate measures: Disguised as a Bengal tiger mascot, he vandalizes the Caribou Lodge, The Colonel’s office, and covers Gigi in paint as she sings. The Taft townspeople are stirred up, thinking the Bakersfield team is behind the crimes, and Reno vows to beat The Bengals in a rematch. Jack gets old Rocket team members to train because most are out of shape. Meanwhile, Reno misses Gigi, and tries to woo her back. Later, the wives invite Jack and Reno to dinner on Monday night, but they are forbidden to talk about football and sex. The couples run out of small talk quickly, and Jack cannot resist turning on the game on his way to the bathroom. The men pretend to listen to the wives, but are soon caught watching the game, and thrown out. At a bar, Reno confesses that people look up to him because of his past athletic accomplishments, and he does not want the adulation to end. Later, Jack and Reno spy on a strong Bakersfield team, but realize it is too late to call off the competition. Before the big game, the Taft Rockets suit up, and Jack worries that he will fail, but Reno assures him that it is only a game. The Bengals immediately score a touchdown, and it appears that the Rockets are outmatched. At one point, Jack moves down the field before the ball is in play, and earns an offside violation. The Rockets fumble the ball, and the score is twenty-six to zero in the Bengals’ favor. At halftime, the Rockets coach gives the players a pep talk. As they return to the field, Jack and Reno straggle behind. Reno believes his stellar reputation will soon be in ruins, while Jack will remain the guy who choked. As Reno reaches for Jack’s whiskey flask, he sees the Bengal tiger mascot head in Jack’s duffle bag, and is furious when he realizes that Jack manipulated events to organize the rematch. Jack responds that Reno is a washed-up athlete-turned-auto mechanic, and he never should have expected Reno would fight to win. Jack’s words snap Reno out of his doldrums. He laces up his lucky white shoes, breaks Jack’s eyeglasses and informs him that he will not be needed in the second half. Meanwhile, the crowd goes wild when they see Reno in his white cleats. The Rockets’ play becomes more aggressive, and they gain points. Soon, Reno tells Jack that he is back in the game after the team gets possession of the ball. Jack defends his turf, the Rockets gain yardage, and Reno calls timeout with five seconds remaining in the game. He tells Jack if he throws the ball, Jack better find an opening and catch it. Reno lays out strategy to his teammates, and puts the ball in play. Jack breaks free and runs for a touchdown, winning the game by one point. The town declares him a hero. Gigi congratulates her husband, and tells him how great it is to watch him play. As Reno and Gigi walk arm in arm, Reno congratulates Jack on his great catch. +

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

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