Longest Yard, The (1974): Aldrich’s Prison Action-Comedy from Aldrich Starring Burt Reynolds

In this popular tale, directed by Robert Aldrich, Burt Reynolds plays an NFL football player, who is forced by a sadistic warden (Eddie Albert) to head a convict football team in prison in a game against the official guards.

As expected of Aldrich (The Dirty Dozen), the film is blunt and violent, but it also is sharply executed, especially editing, which was nominated for an Oscar.

The script by Tracy Keenan Wynn is based on a story by Albert S. Ruddy, who served as producer.

The supporting cast includes Ed Lauter, Michael Conrad, Bernadette Peters, Mike Henry, and Richard Kiel.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Film Editing: Michael Luciano

Oscar Context

The winners of Film Editing were Harold F. and Carl Kress for the disaster movie, The Towering Inferno.

Recycling:

The Longest Yard was remade several times, the 2001 British film  Mean Machine, the 2005 remake, also titled Longest Yard, which featured Burt Reynolds as coach Nate Scarborough, and as the 2015 Egyptian film  Captain Masr.

In the foreign films, the sport was changed from American football to association football.

End Note:

In 1962, an Hungarian film, Two Half Times in Hell, was based on a real-life association football game in 1942 between German soldiers and Ukrainian war prisoners, known as the Death Match.

The Longest Yard featured several real-life football players, including Ray Nitscke of the Green Bay Packers.

The film was shot on location at Georgia State Prison (which experienced several uprisings) in  Reidsville, Georgia.

It enjoyed the support of the then-Governor Jimmy Carter, who in two years would become U.S. President.

Commercial Success:

One of Aldrich’s most successful pictures, cashing in on the popularity of star Burt Reynolds, then at his peak, The Longest Yard earned 43 million at the box-office, against a budget of $3 million, occupying sixth place of the year’s top grossers.

Release date: August 30, 1974.

Running time: 121 Minutes