Take Down (1979)

PG | 107 mins | Drama | 2 March 1979

Director:

Kieth Merrill

Producer:

Kieth Merrill

Cinematographer:

Reed Smoot

Production Designer:

Douglas G. Johnson

Production Company:

American Film Consortium
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HISTORY

End credits include “Special thanks to: Orem High School; Hillcrest High School; American Fork High School; Olympus High School; Box Elder High School; Viewmont High School,” and “Thanks to: Utah Athletic Association; Alpine School District.”
       According a 31 Oct 1978 HR item, the $2.5 million project was the debut feature film for production company American Film Consortium (AFC), based in San Jose, CA.
       As stated in a 14 Mar 1979 Var brief, location filming took place in Orem and American Fork, UT.
       A 15 Jan 1979 NYT article announced that Walt Disney Productions’ Buena Vista Distribution Co. Inc., had acquired distribution rights to Take Down. Although the article claimed that the deal represented the company’s first acquisition of a non-Disney production since 1958, a 16 May 1979 Var article pointed out that Buena Vista released Don’t Look Now (see entry), a French-British production, in 1969. According to Buena Vista president at the time, Irving Ludwig, the recent strategy of releasing outside product coincided with a $15 to $20 million production expansion at the Disney organization. Ludwig calculated that their marketing department could manage at least three non-Disney features per year, without hiring extra staff. For Take Down, Ludwig expected to allocate 500 prints and spend $1 to $1.5 million in regional advertising. According to the 16 May 1979 Var article, the film initially opened 2 Mar 1979 in selected markets of CA, the Mid-West and the Carolinas.
       As stated in a company press release, Take Down marked the first Buena Vista release to carry ... More Less

End credits include “Special thanks to: Orem High School; Hillcrest High School; American Fork High School; Olympus High School; Box Elder High School; Viewmont High School,” and “Thanks to: Utah Athletic Association; Alpine School District.”
       According a 31 Oct 1978 HR item, the $2.5 million project was the debut feature film for production company American Film Consortium (AFC), based in San Jose, CA.
       As stated in a 14 Mar 1979 Var brief, location filming took place in Orem and American Fork, UT.
       A 15 Jan 1979 NYT article announced that Walt Disney Productions’ Buena Vista Distribution Co. Inc., had acquired distribution rights to Take Down. Although the article claimed that the deal represented the company’s first acquisition of a non-Disney production since 1958, a 16 May 1979 Var article pointed out that Buena Vista released Don’t Look Now (see entry), a French-British production, in 1969. According to Buena Vista president at the time, Irving Ludwig, the recent strategy of releasing outside product coincided with a $15 to $20 million production expansion at the Disney organization. Ludwig calculated that their marketing department could manage at least three non-Disney features per year, without hiring extra staff. For Take Down, Ludwig expected to allocate 500 prints and spend $1 to $1.5 million in regional advertising. According to the 16 May 1979 Var article, the film initially opened 2 Mar 1979 in selected markets of CA, the Mid-West and the Carolinas.
       As stated in a company press release, Take Down marked the first Buena Vista release to carry a PG-rating. The NYT article further speculated that by the mid-1970s G-rated pictures were no longer as attractive to audiences, and Disney hoped to recapture the teen market that had grown up on its product, while still representing family-orientated pictures.
       The 16 May 1979 Var article noted that box-office results to date amounted to $2 million, and Ludwig admitted that earnings had not met Buena Vista’s “expectations.” The following year, a 17 Sep 1980 Var article reported that Disney relinquished their involvement in the property, and Taft International Pictures acquired the rights and planned to re-release the film with an entirely new marketing campaign. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 1979
p. 3, 55.
Los Angeles Times
2 Mar 1979
Section F, p. 17.
New York Times
15 Jan 1979
Section C, p. 13.
Variety
24 Jan 1979
p. 22.
Variety
14 Mar 1979.
---
Variety
16 May 1979.
---
Variety
17 Sep 1980.
p. 4, 48.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Kieth Merrill Film
an American Film Consortium Release
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Based on a story idea by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Head elec
Still photog
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Best boy
Dolly grip
Elec
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Mont ed
Ed asst
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Const coord
Set dec
Set dec
Draftsman
Asst props
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus score performed by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Exec asst to the prod
Prod coord
Controller
Tech adv
Scr supv
Local casting
Promotion
Financial adv
Craft services
Craft services
Post prod secy
Transportation
Security
Caterer
First aide
Prod asst
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"I Tried For You," written and performed by Lorenzo Lamas.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Fighting Chance
Takedown
Release Date:
2 March 1979
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 2 March 1979
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
107
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In Utah, the Mingo Junction high school football team, nicknamed the “Bulldogs,” suffers another crushing defeat to the Rockville Knights. The senior-year players realize their only opportunity to avenge the loss before graduating is to challenge Rockville in wrestling. Mingo Junction does not have a team, but a few football athletes, particularly Ted Yacobobich and Chauncey Washington, are experienced wrestlers. After assembling a makeshift squad in different weight categories, Ted approaches Principal Hedley seeking permission to break Rockville’s nine-year winning streak against Mingo’s sports program. The principal consents, but athletics requires supervision and the only available faculty member to act as coach is the snobbish English teacher, Ed Branish. Astonished by the request, Ed declares that he has no knowledge of wrestling and aspires to leave Mingo Junction and teach at Harvard University, as soon as he completes his doctorate thesis. The principal, however, insists, telling Ed that perhaps “coaching has nothing to do with sport.” At home, Ed’s wife Jill, who is ready to start a family and would prefer to settle in Mingo Junction, encourages her husband in the new endeavor by giving him a coaching jacket and book about wrestling. Meanwhile, Mingo Junction senior, Nick Kilvitus, has been skipping classes while he substitutes for his alcoholic father at a welding plant. When Nick approaches Ed about completing missed work in time for graduation, the disgruntled teacher is unwilling to cooperate. Before the season starts, the Bulldogs need a player in the 185-pound bracket to complete the team, and Randy Jensen, a chubby tuba player with no wrestling experience, is persuaded to join. Although Randy ... +


In Utah, the Mingo Junction high school football team, nicknamed the “Bulldogs,” suffers another crushing defeat to the Rockville Knights. The senior-year players realize their only opportunity to avenge the loss before graduating is to challenge Rockville in wrestling. Mingo Junction does not have a team, but a few football athletes, particularly Ted Yacobobich and Chauncey Washington, are experienced wrestlers. After assembling a makeshift squad in different weight categories, Ted approaches Principal Hedley seeking permission to break Rockville’s nine-year winning streak against Mingo’s sports program. The principal consents, but athletics requires supervision and the only available faculty member to act as coach is the snobbish English teacher, Ed Branish. Astonished by the request, Ed declares that he has no knowledge of wrestling and aspires to leave Mingo Junction and teach at Harvard University, as soon as he completes his doctorate thesis. The principal, however, insists, telling Ed that perhaps “coaching has nothing to do with sport.” At home, Ed’s wife Jill, who is ready to start a family and would prefer to settle in Mingo Junction, encourages her husband in the new endeavor by giving him a coaching jacket and book about wrestling. Meanwhile, Mingo Junction senior, Nick Kilvitus, has been skipping classes while he substitutes for his alcoholic father at a welding plant. When Nick approaches Ed about completing missed work in time for graduation, the disgruntled teacher is unwilling to cooperate. Before the season starts, the Bulldogs need a player in the 185-pound bracket to complete the team, and Randy Jensen, a chubby tuba player with no wrestling experience, is persuaded to join. Although Randy fails to lose the necessary pounds, the referee makes an exception and allows him to compete. During the opening tournament against Orem High, the team is soundly defeated, and one of Mingo’s players is disqualified for biting an opponent. Meanwhile, Randy is too afraid to face his match. Looking at the discouraged team, Ed feels guilty for being an ineffective coach. Many players want to quit, but Chauncey and Ted convince them to keep trying, and despite baffling the team with literary references, Ed also manages to boost morale. After witnessing the athletic Nick defend a classmate from a bully, Ed visits the senior at home and agrees to help him graduate on time if he will join the team as the 185-pound player. Although reluctant at first, one day Nick arrives at practice. While Ed runs the team through conditioning exercises, he fails to teach anything about wrestling. The players wonder whether he has any experience in the sport, but Chauncey defends the coach and makes a bet that the teacher can defeat any of them. At the next practice, Ted challenges Ed to demonstrate a basic takedown maneuver. Thanks to the wrestling guide he read the previous night, the teacher surprises himself and the players by pinning Ted on his first attempt. In the tournament against Hillcrest High, the team performs better, and Nick proves to be a talented wrestler, winning his first match decisively. Meanwhile, his counterpart from Rockville, the intimidating Leroy Barron, studies him from the stands. At practice, Ed recites verses from English literature to inspire the team and spends extra time tutoring Nick. Later, the principal interrupts Ed during a tournament to inform him that Nick must repeat English and, therefore, cannot graduate this year. Ed immediately alerts Nick and assures him that he will try to negotiate with the committee. Nick, however, is furious and vents his anger during the next match, inciting a brawl between the Bulldogs and the opposing team. After pushing the referee, Nick is suspended from the sport. Later, Ed stops by Nick’s house and apologizes for not fulfilling the promise about graduation. The coach informs Nick that the suspension has been waived and encourages him to return if only to support his fellow players, who consider him the “spirit” of the team. Yet, Nick remains uninterested, and the Bulldogs are forced to use Randy as a replacement. One day at school, Nick is surprised to hear that Bobby Cooper, a passionate member of the team, is quitting. Bobby reveals that he would love to continue wrestling, but is unable to play due to an illness and resents Nick, who has the capability, but refuses to participate. The encounter motivates Nick to recommit, and he begins training again at home. The following week, the Bulldogs finally face their rivals, the Rockville Knights, who are ranked number one. As the tournament is about start, Nick arrives in the locker room to rejoin the squad. After stepping on the scale, however, Nick discovers he must shed three and a half pounds to meet the required weight. As the others players enter the arena, Nick spends the next hour creating a sweat by sitting near steam pipes in the basement and running through the halls. Meanwhile, Jill arrives in the stands and tells her husband that she is pregnant. Although Ed has been reluctant to start a family until he finishes his thesis, he is thrilled by the news. During the competition, the Bulldogs and Rockville remain neck and neck, and the score is tied with two matches remaining. In a tense heavyweight bout, Ted is defeated, then the team anxiously waits to find out if Nick has lost the necessary weight. Finally cleared at 185 pounds, Nick arrives to face Leroy Barron as the crowd cheers the most anticipated contest of the tournament. Initially, Nick is on the defensive, but Ed’s encouragement from the sidelines inspires him to take control. He drops Barron on the mat and holds him there long enough to give the Bulldogs the win. Erupting in celebration, the team and their fans rush to embrace Nick and lift Coach Branish into the air. +

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

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