Semi-Tough (1977)

R | 107 mins | Comedy | 18 November 1977

Full page view
HISTORY

End credits include the following written acknowledgement: “Special Appreciation: Datsun Motors, Denny’s, Rawlings, Adidas, Men’s Formals From After Six, Inc., Kreiss Ports of Call Imports, Continental Trailways, Kvil, Dallas, Johnson & Johnson, Pearl Beer, ERC, Glastron Boat Company, Florists’ Transworld Delivery, Milliken Carpets, and the people of Miami, Dallas, and Los Angeles.”
       An 18 Jan 1973 Var news item reported that Burt Reynolds expressed interest in appearing in a film adaptation of sports reporter Dan Jenkins’ 1972 novel Semi-Tough to producer David Merrick, but Merrick first planned to stage the book on Broadway as a musical. A 24 Jan 1973 Var brief confirmed Merrick had purchased the stage rights and the musical was planned for “next season.”
       A 25 Jan 1978 LAT article stated that character “Friedrich Bismark” and his organization “B.E.A.T.”, were based on Werner Erhard and Erhard Seminar Training (est). A 23 Sep 1976 HR news brief stated that the character was created for the film and a 23 Sep 1976 DV column reported that actor Bert Convy, who played Bismark, took sixty hours of est training to prepare for the role.
       On 23 Jan 1974, LAHExam announced that Semi-Tough would be Merrick’s next film and that Ring Lardner, Jr., would write the screenplay, though Lardner does not appear in onscreen credits. In a 7 Nov 1977 Sports Illustrated cover story, novelist Jenkins credited Lardner with writing the first draft of the screenplay, moving the story out of the first-person, and creating the character of “Vlada Kostov,” the Eastern European, soccer-style placekicker. According to Jenkins, it was director ... More Less

End credits include the following written acknowledgement: “Special Appreciation: Datsun Motors, Denny’s, Rawlings, Adidas, Men’s Formals From After Six, Inc., Kreiss Ports of Call Imports, Continental Trailways, Kvil, Dallas, Johnson & Johnson, Pearl Beer, ERC, Glastron Boat Company, Florists’ Transworld Delivery, Milliken Carpets, and the people of Miami, Dallas, and Los Angeles.”
       An 18 Jan 1973 Var news item reported that Burt Reynolds expressed interest in appearing in a film adaptation of sports reporter Dan Jenkins’ 1972 novel Semi-Tough to producer David Merrick, but Merrick first planned to stage the book on Broadway as a musical. A 24 Jan 1973 Var brief confirmed Merrick had purchased the stage rights and the musical was planned for “next season.”
       A 25 Jan 1978 LAT article stated that character “Friedrich Bismark” and his organization “B.E.A.T.”, were based on Werner Erhard and Erhard Seminar Training (est). A 23 Sep 1976 HR news brief stated that the character was created for the film and a 23 Sep 1976 DV column reported that actor Bert Convy, who played Bismark, took sixty hours of est training to prepare for the role.
       On 23 Jan 1974, LAHExam announced that Semi-Tough would be Merrick’s next film and that Ring Lardner, Jr., would write the screenplay, though Lardner does not appear in onscreen credits. In a 7 Nov 1977 Sports Illustrated cover story, novelist Jenkins credited Lardner with writing the first draft of the screenplay, moving the story out of the first-person, and creating the character of “Vlada Kostov,” the Eastern European, soccer-style placekicker. According to Jenkins, it was director Michael Ritchie who wanted the motion picture to satirize the consciousness movement, and he hired screenwriter Walter Bernstein to write a new version.
       A 6 Jan 1975 DV item stated that Merrick signed a deal to produce the motion picture for United Artists Corp. A 17 Sep 1976 HR article reported principal photography would begin 1 Nov 1976 in Miami, FL, and a 27 Sep 1976 HR item stated the production would film at the Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX, on 18 Oct 1976. However, filming was postponed when doctors advised Reynolds to rest for sixty days following two straight years of filming according to a 19 Oct 1976 DV column. A 10 Nov 1976 Var article announced the start date was postponed until 27 Dec 1976.
       A 3 Nov 1976 Var story reported that Southern Methodist University (SMU) was warned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for allowing the production to shoot background footage during an 18 Sep 1976 game against the University of Alabama. SMU subsequently withdrew its cooperation from the production. A 26 Nov 1976 DV article stated the start of principal photography was scheduled to begin 10 Jan 1977, and a 14 Feb 1977 Box news brief confirmed that production began that day in Dallas, TX. According to a 22 Feb 1977 Long Beach Press-Telegram story, the motion picture used Veterans Memorial Stadium in Long Beach, CA, to double for Green Bay, WI, and Denver, CO. An 11 Mar 1977 DV news item announced production had moved to Miami, FL, for two weeks of location shooting at the Orange Bowl, after two months in Los Angeles, CA, and Dallas, TX. A 6 Apr 1977 HR news article stated the film had completed principal photography.
       On 15 Jun 1977, DV reported Ritchie was editing the movie at George Lucas’ post-production facility in Marin County, CA, and an 18 Jun 1977 Var story estimated the budget at $6 million. However, a 20 Oct 1977 LAHExam article that announced a sneak preview for the film in New Orleans, LA, placed the budget at $5.7 million.
       The 11 Dec 1977 LAT review called the movie “a raucous and lightweight entertainment, a romantic triangle in the Gable-Tracy-Loy tradition, updated with such language as would make your ears curl.” Bernstein was nominated for a Writers Guild of America (WGA) Award for Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium.
       A 5 Nov 1979 HR story reported Merrick executive produced a television series based on the movie for the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) with David Hasselhoff, Bruce McGill, and Markie Post as the three leads. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
14 Feb 1977.
---
Daily Variety
19 Jan 1973
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 Jan 1975
p. 1.
Daily Variety
23 Sep 1976
p. 2.
Daily Variety
19 Oct 1976.
---
Daily Variety
26 Nov 1976
p. 1, 5.
Daily Variety
11 Mar 1977
p. 8.
Daily Variety
15 Jun 1977
p. 28.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Sep 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 1977
p. 2, 5.
LAHExam
23 Dec 1974.
---
LAHExam
20 Oct 1977.
---
Long Beach Press-Telegram
22 Feb 1977
Section B, p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
11 Dec 1977
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
25 Jan 1978.
Section IV, p. 8.
New York Times
19 Nov 1977
p. 12.
Sports Illustrated
7 Nov 1977.
---
Variety
24 Jan 1973
p. 57.
Variety
3 Nov 1976
p. 32.
Variety
10 Nov 1976
p. 31.
Variety
18 May 1977
p. 68.
Variety
9 Nov 1977
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A David Merrick Production
A MIchael Ritchie Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Still photog
Still photog
Gaffer
Key grip
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Standy painter
COSTUMES
Men`s cost
Men`s cost
Asst men's cost
MUSIC
Featuring the rec of
Addl mus comp and cond
SOUND
Prod mixer
Re-rec mixer
Boom man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Asst to Mr. Ritchie
Dallas casting
Dallas loc mgr
Miami loc mgr
Football adv
Football trainer
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Transportation
First aid
Craft service
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timing
Color by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Semi-Tough by Dan Jenkins (New York, 1972).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 November 1977
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 18 November 1977
Los Angeles opening: 14 December 1977
Production Date:
18 October 1976 in Dallas
10 January--early April in 1977 in Dallas, TX
Miami, FL
Long Beach and Hollywood, CA
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses by Panavision
Duration(in mins):
107
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24920
SYNOPSIS

The Miami, Florida, professional football team earns a playoff spot on a last-second pass play from running back Billy Clyde Puckett to receiver Marvin “Shake” Tiller. The team celebrates in the locker room under the watchful eye of team owner “Big Ed” Bookman and his business manager, Phillip Hooper. The next day at the airport, Billy Clyde and Shake pick up their roommate, Big Ed’s twice-divorced daughter, Barbara Jane Bookman, as she returns from a trip to Africa. Bud McNair, a book publisher whom Barbara Jane met on the plane, gets a ride into the city with the three friends. In the car, McNair expresses interest in a tell-all book by Billy Clyde, exposing the drugs, gambling, homosexuality, and orgies that he presumes to occur in the world of professional football. Back at the trio’s penthouse apartment overlooking Biscayne Bay, Barbara Jane is appalled by the mess. Shake speaks in pseudo-profound language about photographs Barbara Jane took in Africa and Billy Clyde tells her that Shake “found” himself while she was away. At football practice, Barbara Jane gets a lecture from her father, who asks her to stop living with Billy Clyde and Shake because the team is now in the playoff spotlight. When she claims she is not sleeping with them, Big Ed responds that that makes the situation even more “unnatural.” Shake explains to Barbara Jane that he attended a Bismark Energy Attack Training (B.E.A.T.) seminar and that it is helping him live in the present. When Billy Clyde asks where they want to go to dinner, Shake says that he is taking Barbara Jane to a consciousness seminar. Later, on the flight to Green Bay, Wisconsin, ... +


The Miami, Florida, professional football team earns a playoff spot on a last-second pass play from running back Billy Clyde Puckett to receiver Marvin “Shake” Tiller. The team celebrates in the locker room under the watchful eye of team owner “Big Ed” Bookman and his business manager, Phillip Hooper. The next day at the airport, Billy Clyde and Shake pick up their roommate, Big Ed’s twice-divorced daughter, Barbara Jane Bookman, as she returns from a trip to Africa. Bud McNair, a book publisher whom Barbara Jane met on the plane, gets a ride into the city with the three friends. In the car, McNair expresses interest in a tell-all book by Billy Clyde, exposing the drugs, gambling, homosexuality, and orgies that he presumes to occur in the world of professional football. Back at the trio’s penthouse apartment overlooking Biscayne Bay, Barbara Jane is appalled by the mess. Shake speaks in pseudo-profound language about photographs Barbara Jane took in Africa and Billy Clyde tells her that Shake “found” himself while she was away. At football practice, Barbara Jane gets a lecture from her father, who asks her to stop living with Billy Clyde and Shake because the team is now in the playoff spotlight. When she claims she is not sleeping with them, Big Ed responds that that makes the situation even more “unnatural.” Shake explains to Barbara Jane that he attended a Bismark Energy Attack Training (B.E.A.T.) seminar and that it is helping him live in the present. When Billy Clyde asks where they want to go to dinner, Shake says that he is taking Barbara Jane to a consciousness seminar. Later, on the flight to Green Bay, Wisconsin, for the playoff game, Billy Clyde notices a new intimacy between Shake and Barbara Jane. At the hotel, Barbara Jane and Shake turn in early and Billy Clyde takes a middle-aged groupie back to his room. The next day, Miami defeats Green Bay, 7-0, to advance to the next round of the playoffs. Back in Miami, Billy Clyde claims he is going to write a book. During a barbeque for the team at Big Ed’s mansion, Shake introduces Barbara Jane to Friedrich Bismark, the leader of B.E.A.T. Later, lineman T. J. Lambert dangles a woman by her ankles from the roof and Shake, using his newfound inner peace, talks him out of dropping her. Impressed, Friedrich asks Shake to be a B.E.A.T. trainer when he retires. Billy Clyde announces that a writer needs solitude and retreats to the house, but he is unable to get any peace, even in the bathroom. First, Hooper wants to ensure that Billy Clyde is not writing anything unflattering about the team. Then, Shake and Barbara Jane inform Billy Clyde that they are getting married. Billy Clyde is not pleased and visits Big Ed’s office, only to find the team owner crawling on his hands and knees, practicing something called “Moviegenics.” He orders Billy Clyde to get “pelfed,” a combination of deep tissue massage and psychological abuse administered by an older German woman named Clara Pelf. Afterward, Billy Clyde goes for drinks with Shake, who expresses concern that Barbara Jane is rushing into the wedding. While the men are fitted for tuxedos at a department store, Barbara Jane picks out a dress. Billy Clyde confides Shake’s trepidation and Barbara Jane wonders why she and Billy Clyde never made love despite being friends since childhood. The team defeats Denver for the conference championship to advance to the Super Bowl. Back home, Barbara Jane is anxious about the wedding and Shake attempts to reassure her. Later, Shake takes her to the 48-hour B.E.A.T. training at a hotel and waits for her. Locked in a ballroom and forbidden to use the restroom, the seminar participants are verbally abused by Friedrich and told to “experience” one another. Barbara Jane is surprised to discover Billy Clyde among the attendees. The participants writhe on the floor and are instructed to let out their emotions. Two days later, they emerge, wrecked. Billy Clyde claims he got “it,” the wisdom B.E.A.T. proponents allegedly achieve, while Barbara Jane remains dubious. Prior to the Super Bowl, Billy Clyde is interviewed by sportscaster Dick Schaap on television alongside Dreamer Tatum, the captain of the Dallas team. When Billy Clyde quotes Friedrich, Tatum says that B.E.A.T. is “out” and Pyramid Power is “in.” Afterward, Barbara Jane worries that she did not get “it” at the seminar and Billy Clyde tells her not to worry. Barbara Jane is also concerned that their friendship will be different after her marriage. At the wedding rehearsal, teammate Puddin Patterson tells Billy Clyde that he knows he is faking his affinity for B.E.A.T., so Billy Clyde admits he has feelings for Barbara Jane and plans to break up the wedding. On Super Bowl Sunday, Miami plays poorly in the first half, but becomes energized when placekicker Vlada Kostov boots a sixty-three-yard field goal and the team mounts a comeback. With three seconds left to play, Billy Clyde runs for a touchdown and Miami wins. Prior to the wedding, Friedrich counsels Shake that the marriage can still work even if Barbara Jane does not have “it.” Billy Clyde lays on the B.E.A.T. terminology while planting doubt in Shake’s mind. During the ceremony, Barbara Jane hesitates and Shake tells her he cannot marry her. Big Ed becomes enraged and threatens to trade Shake. When Friedrich says that everything will be all right, Big Ed punches him, and a brawl ensues. Meanwhile, Billy Clyde admits to Barbara Jane that he thinks Friedrich is a fraud and she realizes that he orchestrated the whole collapse of the wedding. Billy Clyde tells her he does not want to get married and suggests they go to Hawaii. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.