Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Are you ready for some football?

TCM's theme for this morning and afternoon is football movies. What I find most interesting is the casting of them, in that there are a lot of people who in no way whatsoever look like football players. Also, since most of today's movies are about college football, it's interesting to note that a lot of the actors are well above college age, a them I've discussed before. Ramon Novarro, for example, was 33 years old when he played a Yalie in Huddle, airing at 8:30 AM.

Andy Devine played a miner who was brought in to college and paid to play a lineman in The Big Game, which airs at 3:30 PM ET. Since he was playing a ringer, this is one of the few times where being overage isn't such a big deal, and Devine was one of the few Hollywood actors who could pass for being a football player: he had played semipro football in the late 1920s before going on to college. The Big Game is also interesting in that several big-name college football players of the day appear as players, including Jay Berwanger, the first winner of the Heisman Trophy.

Somebody who didn't look like a football player, but got cast as one, is Van Heflin. A 26-year-old Heflin appears in a movie with an unlikely plot, Saturday's Heroes, at 6:00 PM. Here, he plays a college football player who sees the corruption going on surrounding the college football team -- and the administration supporting it -- at his school, and doesn't like it. When he protests, he gets kicked off the team. How does he respond? He gets the local sportswriter to help him get a coaching job at the school's main rival!

Perhaps my favorite of the bunch is The Cowboy Quarterback, which follows Saturday's Heroes at 7:00 PM. It's one of the few movies of the era to deal with professional football -- but the team in the movie is the Chicago Packers! The movie, however, is a remake of 1933's Elmer the Great. A professional athlete gets brought to the big city, and quickly runs up a big gambling tab, at which point the gamblers try to get him to throw the big game.

It's only too bad TCM didn't choose to include 1929's So This Is College as part of today's lineup. In that one, the star football player is played by a young... Robert Montgomery!

No comments: