Peter Shelley | Sydney, New South Wales Australia | 10/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's not often a playwright gets to direct the film of his own play so Jason Miller's production of the Pultizer Prize winner, which took 10 years to reach the screen, brings great expectations. Miller seems to have opted to concentrate on the performances of his 5 principle players, as opposed to trying for any visual style, which is appropriate for this kind of ensemble Eugene O"Neill-ish drama. The stage origins of the material are still in evidence, by having the actors constantly moving from room to room but this hardly matters when the actors engender such good will. The set-up is the reunion of the 1957 high school state basketball champions of Scranton, Pennsylvania, at a time when Bruce Dern's Mayor is up for re-election. Thankfully the life as sport metaphor isn't pushed too much, and the coach that the four men all worship isn't revealed to be a phony. You may wonder why these grown men still seek the juvenile approval of a schoolboy teacher, but the reason is in the way he understands them, knows how to sooth their anguish, and still inspire them. He is a father who is both wise and loving. The deep-voiced Robert Mitchum brings both his strong masculinity and a delcate emapthy to the character. His coach doesn't need to swear or raise his voice. Just the laying on hands is enough, though his rejection of one of the men as a ploy strikes a false note, perhaps since this is the only time we see Mitchum reduced to phyisical violence. Perhaps I was also put off from this moment since the rejection follows the Edward Albee-ish mention of the player who has refused to reunite. The play's narrative doesn't cover any new ground but it does allow actors like Dern, Stacy Keach, and in particular Paul Sorvino and Martin Sheen to have richer and longer screen exposure. Sorvino is a revelation, perhaps explaining why he instigated a remake, and Sheen very funny, especially when he laughs. Of note is the quiet side to Bill Conti's score."
It's easier to believe the lie
Bomojaz | South Central PA, USA | 09/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The place is Scranton, PA, and four members and their coach of the 1957 state basketball champs are holding their 24th reunion. These men have held on to that moment of glory as if it were their life preserver, as indeed it is - for their lives now are filled with broken dreams and disillusionment. One (Bruce Dern) is running for re-election as mayor, though he's lost touch with the people; another (Martin Sheen) is an alcoholic; another a lecher; still another a weasily follower. The coach (Robert Mitchum) still thinks these guys are a great team. But for one evening the illusions are stripped away and they are left facing the truth. But, incredibly, they all go back to believing the old hooey about themselves, and that's what makes this movie (based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Jason Miller) so depressing: they are sinners who are almost redeemed by the truth and then reject it and decide to sin some more. There is a stagey feel about the movie that can't be helped, but it's an intelligent and well done production anyway. Definitely worth a watch."
samuel clemmons | Chicago, IL | 01/17/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This Golan-Globus 1983 movie was a bit tame for its day (my opinion), although many people were morally shocked by the story revelations. A good many these days would have some trouble understanding the references and outrage prompted by the unfolding drama. There is good chemistry between the actors most of the movie. It purports to be based on real incidents from a small town's 1957 Championship high school football team and is from a 1972 play by Jason Miller which ran for 988 performances. The play accumulated many praises and won the 1973 Tony Award for Best Play and received a 1973 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Those great many who like the movie compliment its humor, dialogue, and characters, but some people contend there problems with certain aspects of the play and find it distasteful. Whatever your reasons, be sure to watch That Championship Season and decide for your self.