The Longest Yard (1974) DVD Review

Sports movies are almost a waste of time. Unless they're based off a true story (at least one that deserves to be told), there's little point in making them. The good team wins, the bad team loses, and you follow a basic formula. A little bit of originality is usually enough to get through, and that's something the The Longest Yard has.

That doesn't always translate into a likable film though either. This is a movie that, quite simply, hasn't aged well at all. It's archaic, slow, and marred by a football game that goes on far too long with no purpose. The film runs close to two hours, yet we learn very little about the characters leading up to the guards vs. inmates game (which is set up in ridiculous style), neither do we have a reason to care about the majority. That's a sure sign something is wrong.

It's also a movie that seems unsure as to what it wants to be. We open with Burt Reynolds character Paul Crewe beating his wife and throwing her to the ground, then later the audience is expected to accept him simply because he "does the right thing" predictably during a football game. He's a completely unlikable character regardless of how he plays football, and winning a game is NOT redeeming himself. Leading to that point, you're supposed to accept this as a comedy, then a drama, and then back to comedy. It earns a hard "R" with some language and gratuitous nudity in the beginning, neither of which make the film any better.

It's all wildly uneven, occasionally entertaining, but mostly dull. At least half of the football game could be deleted and it wouldn't hurt anything. As it stands, all it hurts is the audience who need to sit through a predictable game of Hollywood football that ends without any idea of what happens to the characters afterward. (** out of *****)

This new "Lockdown Edition" comes with a newly restored anamorphic transfer, and it looks far better than you would expect. The print itself is in remarkable shape barring some minor scratches. The only major problem is grain, which seems to be worse in the first half of the film than the second. Compression is never an issue. This may be a blatant cash-in on the remake, but at least they did something to improve the picture quality. (****)

Audio quality is right around where your expectations likely are with 2.0 mono which is clear and understandable. There's obviously no deep bass when someone is hit and roaring crowds surrounding you are non-existent. What's important in a mix like this is that the dialogue is clean, and it is. (***)

The original release was barren of extras, so anything here is an improvement on that. Burt Reynolds and Albert Ruddy (writer) provide a commentary track that's active and interesting to fans. Doing Time on the Longest Yard discusses where the idea for the film started, shows some behind-the-scenes photos, and is almost narrated by Ruddy. Burt Reynolds does appear on screen for a few minutes in this 11-minute feature.

Unleashing the Mean Machine should have been slapped together with the previous featurette, but that wouldn't look as good on the back of a DVD case. Various current NFL stars and columnists discuss the film and it ends with a blatant yet unsurprising promotional plug for the remake. It runs just a little shorter than Doing Time. Finally, we have the obligatory brief look at the remake that doesn't provide any other useful information other than to make you use that $5 coupon included in the case to see it. Finally, the cover art for this disc is terrible, as it seems like Burt Reynolds has hands eight times the size of his head since they're so obviously not his. (**)

There are always those movies that you don't "get." They're classics, you're told they are; yet for some reason, it just doesn't click for you. How this film is considered a classic is baffling. The only message it seems to send is that if you beat your wife in a drunken rage, dump her car into a river, and beat up cops, it's all okay if you win a football game. Makes sense.

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