Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pete Smith plays football!

Well, Smith himself doesn't actually play football; he just comments on it in the short Pro Football, which is airing on TCM at just about 4:30 AM tomorrow (ie. in the overnight between Sunday and Monday). I think I've mentioned a few times before how professional football wasn't so popular back in the 1930s. It wasn't until the late 1950s with the 1958 NFL Championship that went into overtime that the league realized the sport could be popular on the new medium of TV, and then a rival group of owners setting up the AFL, that really made professional football popular. Before that it was the college game that was king, as you can see in Hollywood movies of the day. Quite a few movies about the college game, and very few about the pros.

Pro Football, released in 1934, is about the 1933 NFL champion Chicago Bears, who were out west to play a game against the west coast collegiate All-Stars. (In fact, the NFL champions would play a game against a team of college all-stars until the 1960s.) That would explain why Hollywood might be interested: they had a team right there. It's the sort of subject material that suits Pete Smith, but there's also a drawback. People who are fans of the history of football might actually enjoy the chance to hear a couple of famous names from back in the day (Bronko Nagurski was a famous linebacker, and there's also Red Grange) speak, but because of the Pete Smith style, all the action is silent with his voiceover narration.

A few years later, Smith made the 1937 short Pigskin Champions, which stars the 1936 NFL champion Green Bay Packers. That one isn't on the TCM schedule any time soon.

2 comments: said...

Hi, I've been looking everywhere to watch this and can't find it anywhere. Any leads? Thanks for the post. said...
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