Honor code to school vs honor code to classmates
Bob Lind | Phoenix, AZ United States | 07/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Not really a football movie or a military one, ESPN's made-for-TV "Codebreakers" is really a compelling and powerful coming-of-age film about a group of cadets at West Point, based upon a true story that happened in 1951.
Before the dominance of the NFL among the public, it was college football that received the most attention, and the highest ranked team was usually Army, under Coach Earl "Red" Blaik. With a demanding practice schedule interfering with their studies, and Coach Blaik "do whatever it takes to win" attitude, many of the players found it easy to justify passing answers to exams to each other, even though it was clearly a violation of West Point's revered honor code. This had been going on for many years, supposedly unknown by those in charge, and even Blaik's own son, a junior and quarterback on the team, was a participant.
One football player offered to get answers for an exam for his (non-player) roommate, who went to the commander and blew the whistle on the scandal, only to get shunned by his classmates as well as his own father for his apparent disloyalty to his classmates. The resulting investigation resulted in charges brought against 90 cadets, and threatened the existence of the football program at West Point.
Most of the film deals with the interactions between the cadets involved in the cheating, essentially pointing out that loyalty to the school's honor code in this instance seemed to conflict directly to loyalty to one's fellow cadets and the football team, which many of the players saw as a surrogate family under Coach Blaik. It perfectly captures the spirit of its time, and highlights some commendable performances from its young cast, which include Zachary Bryan ("Home Improvement"), Corey Sevier ("North Shore") abd Jeff Roop. Veteran character actor Scott Glenn turns in a subtle but powerful performance as Coach Blaik.
DVD extras include deleted scenes, documentaries about the Army football team, and an interesting "Making of.." featurette that includes how they "assembled" a huge Army/Navy football game out of pieces shot in different locations."
Pay the Price
Vincent Tesi | Brick, New Jersey | 03/20/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of Army football coach Colonel Blaik's favorite quotes was "You Have to Pay the Price". For some Army cadets who played under Blaik during the 1950's, that meant being dismissed from West Point and the team for cheating on exams. This film tells the true story of the cheating scandal that shocked the nation involving the Army football team of 1951. Actor Scott Glen plays the stoic task master Coach Blaik, whose Army teams dominated college football throughout the 1940's. When a cheating scandal infiltrates the ranks of Blaik's team, the tenets of honor, loyalty, friendship, and truth are brought into question. The film does capture the flavor of 1950's football with accurate versions of helmets, jerseys, and straitlaced young men. Good all around performances from the actors who portrayed the challenged cadets . Viewers will not see gridiron action or recreations of Army football greatness; instead viewers become involved with the drama of compromised morals. I wish the character of Vince Lombardi would have been expanded in the film, but the focus is on the six or seven players whose honor has become tarnished. After the scandal, football was de-emphasized at West Point. Although Army still plays Divison I powerhouses on their fall schedule, they have not had many winning seasons over the last fifty years and no Bowl invitations. The extra archival footage on the DVD is excellent."
Francis B. Kish | Lawrence, Kansas | 01/03/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Very good portrayal of a challenging event in West Point history.The additional coverage with interviews of men like Pete Dawkins, Jack Jacobs , Norm Schwartzkopf and Roger Staubach provided superb background for an understanding of the Honor Code issue."