Glory, glamour, debauchery, controversy. It's all here in ONCE IN A LIFETIME: THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF THE NEW YORK COSMOS. This untold tale of America's first great soccer team and its larger-than-life superstar reveals... more » how a scrappy team of ragtag athletes rose from total anonymity to stratospheric celebrity only to flame out in a New York minute. From the makers of the award-winning ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER and DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS, this hugely entertaining and humorous film has everything -- heroes and villains, egos and excess, wild partying and exciting sports action. Adding to all the drama are candid -- and often juicy ? interviews with former players, coaches, newsmakers, and journalists. It's a once-in-a-lifetime story you just can't miss.« less
"Okay, so maybe I was too young to remember the nineteen seventies and era of the New York Cosmos soccer team. But, after seeing this movie I wish I had been around to witness the soccer extrazaganza that really was the New York Cosmos. This movie brilliantly captures everything of that time from the actual inception of the North American Soccer League to Pele's arrival with the Cosmos. Indeed the original footage of Pele's time in New York used in the movie, is truly incredible! Better still is the funny and triumphant saga of Cosmos owner Steve Ross' determination to capture Pele's signature over other interested parties that included Juventus and Real Madrid. This movie even goes one better with a fantastic soundtrack which includes the likes of James Brown, The Supremes, Diana Ross, The Jam and The Jackson Sisters. I would thoroughly recommend any soccer or general sports fan to check this movie out if not just to see and hear soccer greats Franz Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto fondly recall their wonderful times they both experienced playing for the New York Cosmos."
When Soccer was popular in North America...
Cubist | United States | 10/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the 1970s, the New York Cosmos succeeded in bringing a significant amount of attention to soccer in the United States. Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos features narration by Matt Dillon with interviews with many of the team's star players (with exception of Pele who wanted too much money) and footage of the team in action in the North American Soccer League as it chronicles the team's meteoric rise and fall that was mirrored by the league itself.
Once in a Lifetime does an entertaining job of showing how the clash of egos brought about the demise of the Cosmos and the animosity that still exists between certain key figures. It also shows how the hedonism of the day also contributed to the team's downfall. As attendance soared (they even sold out Giants Stadium - something that is unthinkable today), the players were treated like rock stars with their own table at the exclusive nightclub Studio 54 and indulged in all of the usual excesses - sex, drugs and alcohol. This documentary does for American soccer what 24 Hour Party People did for the Manchester England music scene - it captures the energy and excitement of a specific period of time with a cheeky sense of humour and with the help of a great soundtrack of classic `70s songs that properly establishes the tone of the decade.
"Stories of Pele" features additional interviews with contemporaries of the legendary player - those who played with and against him - recounting stories of his amazing prowess and passion for the game.
In a fantastic touch, there are highlights from several classic games in the Cosmos' career, including the 1980 and 1981 Soccer Bowl games. Fans of GolTV should keep their eyes peeled during the 1980 game for glimpses of a young Ray Hudson playing for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and who now commentates for football matches on that station.
Best of all is the very emotional "Pele's Farewell Game: October 1, 1977" that features highlights of the man's final professional match. There is some great vintage footage of this momentous occasion.
Finally, there is a deleted scene entitled, "Haitian Divorce" that examines another unusual way that the Cosmos made money. They were supposed to play the Haitian team who was jetlagged and disappeared before the match. So, the Cosmos found a bunch of guys who looked like them and had them play against the team!"
Five stars is not enough!
bobbyknightmare | Altoona, PA United States | 10/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In telling the story of the Cosmos, the producers of this film went beyond the fawning "those were the days" stories and went into the real story: the infighting, the behind-the-scenes deals, and how the Cosmos brought the NASL into the spotlight, only to see the NASL cut its own throat through overexpansion and television deals that should never have been struck, bringing the Cosmos down with them."
Remember when one star shone brightest in the Cosmos?
D.S. Chen | Rancho Cordova, California | 04/21/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Growing up in New Jersey in the 1980's, I was vaguely aware that there was a soccer team called the Cosmos that played not far from where I lived. Unfortunately, I was barely walking and talking by the time Pelé had played his final game in Cosmos colors, and I missed out on the magic of their championship seasons in the North American Soccer League. "Once in a Lifetime" transported me back to the 1970's and helped me see what happened during the first heyday of American pro soccer.
Some of the first soccer footage you see in "Once in a Lifetime" is set to opera music - which is fitting for a documentary that unfolds like an opera. After a brief history of American soccer, the emperor arrives on the scene. Entertainment mogul Steve Ross' millions help to raise the NASL's profile from obscurity to unprecedented heights, but he seemingly only cares about victory for his own club rather than the viability of the league. The wooing of Pelé follows. He sweeps into New York like a god to sign a huge contract and sparks national interest in soccer by demonstrating his breathtaking skills on the soccer field.
Not long after, we meet the sympathetic villain of the piece, Italian striker Giorgio Chinaglia, without whom the Cosmos would not have enjoyed their success. His bigger-than-life personality, however, brings him into some conflict with Pelé. Then, after the final curtain call comes for the great Brazilian, Chinaglia begins to assert himself within the organization, and his close relationship to Ross appears to lead to his running the team from the locker room.
At the height of the Cosmos' glory days, free-flowing money, superstar players, hedonism, Hollywood glitz and NASL championships were the norm. The rapid declines of the Cosmos and the league, however, mirrored the Roman Empire: too much excess and too much expansion. Still, the film does a service by reminding viewers that future for soccer in the United States isn't bleak; it may never reach the level of football, basketball and baseball, but it appears to be here to stay.
"Once in a Lifetime" features excellent bits from interviews with key characters in the Cosmos story: from the team's first coach Gordon Bradley to some of the greatest superstars of the game who donned the Cosmos colors, like Carlos Alberto and Franz Beckenbauer. More than a few members of the front office management also weigh in on the rise and fall of the club and the league.
The documentary makes good use of photographs, Cosmos match highlights and other video clips. The music video-style presentation and an excellent mix of `70s soul/funk, disco and rock perfectly match the changing moods of the film. Actor Matt Dillon's excellent narration complements the various highs and lows of the Cosmos. These elements all combine to give viewers a feeling of how New Yorkers and the rest of the nation experienced Cosmos-mania during the height of the league's popularity.
The extra features on the DVD are superb. Three edited Cosmos games give you a taste of the old NASL as it was originally presented on ABC. The "Stories of Pelé" program from ESPN gives you a better insight of what the uniquely gifted player meant to those who played with him and against him over the years."
Yesterday, All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away
William Anderson | Austin, Texas USA | 10/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I Believe In Yesterday. This reminded me of why I began to play the beautiful game and why my children play today. The passion, the scene, the happening that was the New York Cosmos and the NASL in the late 70's was inspiring for generations of US Soccer Players. Thanks for bringing back all of those memories and bringing me back to my roots."