Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Basketball Fix |
Actors: John Ireland, Marshall Thompson, William Bishop, Vanessa Brown
Director: Felix Feist
Genres: Drama, Sports
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Old-fashioned moral dilemma, long before steroid age.
R. Christenson | Pine, CO USA | 09/28/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Basketball Fix is a simple story about college baskeball player Johnny Long, played by Marshall Thompson (Daktari, Bad Bascomd, First Man Into Space, Flight of the Lost Balloon, etc.), who starts out with a good enough old-fashioned work ethic, but falls into bad company (William Bishop). He resists the temptation to take bribes to lose points in his games until he runs into financial trouble trying impress his girlfriend (Vanessa Brown) with jewelry and so forth. He decides to take a bribe for just one game, as long as he doesn't have to throw the game entirely, but once in, he's forced to keep playing ball with the mob. John Ireland (Wake Up And Dream, A Walk In The Sun, The Fast and The Furious) is a sports columnist who helped Johnny get his start, and narrates the movie.
While watching, it occurred to me that in these unfortunate days of professional athletes regularly cheating by steroids, no one would take Johnny's dilemma seriously, and most people will probably find this story naive or trite. However, it's reasonably well made and interesting for a B-movie, and perhaps one of the only films on the subject. I got the DVD for $1, and I think it was more than worth it (I would have paid $2 or $3). Comparing it to other films of the time, I can give it 3 stars, but if you're the type who doesn't like black and white movies just because they aren't in color, or finds such moral dilemmas boringly out of date, you probably won't care for The Basketball Fix."
Go fix yourself
Andrew McCaffrey | Satellite of Love, Maryland | 11/10/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"It's 1951, and basketball is a sport dominated by scrawny white men in small disturbing shorts. THE BASKETBALL FIX is a movie based on that noble game, but it suffers from one large fatal flaw. Simply put, this is the most predictable movie ever made. The back cover of the DVD packaging states that the movie concerns "events that seem commonplace today, but were positively scandalous at the time of the film's original release." I must take issue with this, but before I do that, I should at least hint at what the film is about.
You should, in fact, be able to guess the basic story of this movie based on the title. And then given the subject matter, you may have a pretty good idea of how the film will progress. You'll only need a few details to get you going.
THE BASKETBALL FIX is a movie where unscrupulous fellows attempt to fix... a basketball game. Well, there. That's it.
The characters are those you'd expect in a story like this. There's the main character: John "Johnny" Long, the young lad with a talent for basketball who falls in with bad company. There's his girlfriend, who he wishes to marry, and his kid brother -- fatherless -- who relies on his older brother for financial support. There's the crooked gambler who provides the temptation for little Johnny. The cast is rounded out by the obligatory overeating coach and the sports reporter who doubles as a basketball scout. (Of course, all the teens are played by actors a decade older than their characters.)
There's no fun in watching a movie where you can guess exactly what's going to happen before you've even seen it once, and I had no fun watching this. The movie is contrived so that Johnny can either accept the cheating offer, or he can turn it down. You can guess exactly which option he takes (the other option would result in there not being a movie anymore).
The time between the initial offer to the moment when he makes his decision is pure padding. The stakes are never raised. Alternate viewpoints aren't discussed. Nothing significant changes between those two moments in time. At one point I got down on my knees and screamed at my television. "Stop being so noble!" I implored. "You're only making the movie longer!" And he is. The film is only sixty-six minutes long, but it feels like forever. All the time Johnny Long spends agonizing over his decision adds nothing to the moral weight of his choice.
And worse, is that there is absolutely nothing else to this movie except for its simplistic moral dilemma. No cool characters, no snappy dialog. I would have enjoyed myself if there was something else entertaining going on. But there's simply nothing else there.
One bright spot was John Ireland's performance as Pete Ferreday, the bad-tempered sports-journalist who tells the story (the movie is narrated by him and told as one big flashback). The character isn't terribly original, but I liked the way he grumbled his way through the picture, crankily distributing advice and making fun of the basketball coach's propensity for consuming a lot of food. It's not much, but Ireland did a good job and at least kept me awake during the film. He's the only character with any depth whatsoever.
Now, here's the point in the review where I disagree with the description of the film as "positively scandalous at the time of the film's original release". Now, I may be wrong about this (I wasn't there myself), but I find this very difficult to believe. Fixing sporting events has been going on for as long there have been sporting events. To whit, earlier in the century, a team had thrown the World Series. The invention of sports gambling simultaneously invented smooth talking guys who wanted to get better odds for themselves. Cheating was not something new to the early 1950s.
And the films of this period are hardly bland, spineless features with rigid straightforward plots and no moral quandaries. This is 1951: the heart of the film noir period, which featured gangsters, good cops, bad cops, crooked politicians and selfish bystanders. An elderly teenager wondering whether or not he should shave a few points shouldn't have posed much of a threat to audiences. Anyone who actually was scandalized by this movie was probably equally disturbed by the used chewing gum they found under the cinema arm rests.
The DVD box description also refers to this as a "noir-ish" film. The only similarity of this movie to film noir classics is that it's in black and white, the men wear cool hats, everyone smokes, and there's a heavy-drinking, grumpy guy featured prominently in the cast.
The Digiview Productions release of this film is the version that I've got my grubby little hands on, and I was impressed by both the sound and the picture quality. If the quality of the underlying film itself had been as good, I would have been a much happier camper.
THE BASKETBALL FIX is a movie where the women are either clueless or stupid (or a combination of both) and minorities of any kind don't exist. I realize this is not a unique failing of the films of that era, but the whole thing has put me in a bad mood so I'm going to complain about that anyway. And I got a good chuckle at the film's expense out of the scene where our protagonist initiates his love-making with the immortal words: "What hamburgers?" Ah, romance!
I found this to be an overly simplistic and boring movie. It's difficult to sympathize with a character facing a moral dilemma when he has all the depth of an evaporating puddle. This DVD can be had for only a buck at your local Evil Capitalist Mart, but it isn't worth it."
"You don't like talk, Johnny, you like action."
Dave | Tennessee United States | 05/15/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Johnny Long (Marshall Thompson) is a young basketball player with dreams of becoming a rich star so he can support his girlfriend Pat (Vanessa Brown) that he wants to marry. He's discovered by a sportswriter, Pete Ferreday (John Ireland), who wants to help him get the money he wants legally without going to mobsters like Mike Taft (William Bishop) for help. But over time Johnny realizes that he needs the money that Mike has been offering him, so he starts working for him in a points-shaving scheme that'll earn Mike and his mob a lot of money. But, as you could guess, everything falls apart and Johnny must pay for his unwise choices.
I am totally puzzled by the previous five-star ratings of this awful 1951 movie which is falsely marketed as film noir. With the ever-increasing popularity of film noir, it seems like any old movie from the 1940's and 1950's can be marketed as noir by dvd companies. Trust me, this movie is about as noirish as "Gone With the Wind"! Anyone buying this because they're expecting a film noir will be entirely disappointed. In fact, most people who buy this for any reason will be VERY disappointed! And as if the movie weren't dreadful enough, the dvd quality is awful, especially the sound.
This movie was supposedly a bold look at the college basketball point-shaving scandals of the 1950's, but it is boring and unintentionally hilarious. For example, the idea of Marshall Thompson playing a teenager was ludicrous and unbelievable, and the cast was almost entirely either emotionless or totally over-the-top, as Vanessa Brown was. Even John Ireland, who was usually great, seemed very bored with his role. Bottom line, a flashback and a handful of gangsters doesn't make this a film noir, and I'd say avoid this flop like the plague."
Dr. W. G. Covington, Jr. | Edinboro, Pennsylvania | 04/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here I am 50 years after the release of this film writing a positive review of it. The storyline is relatively complex for this era. It shows how a player gradually got caught up in something he never planned. His motives might even have been considered somewhat admirable as he had the interest of his girlfriend and little brother in mind in deciding, reluctantly, to get involved.
The subtle nature of temptation is conveyed in that he is not called upon to lose any games, merely play poorly enough for them to be close. Marshall Thompson plays the lead role of Johnny Long. Sports journalist Pete Ferreday is played by John Ireland. The screenplay is written in such a way that the characters nuances come through. Felix Feist did a nice noir-ish type film. It all comes together in a way to hold your attention to the end."