The Longest Yard (1974)

You just can’t get away with this stuff anymore. In the first ten minutes, Burt Reynolds has beaten his girlfriend, stolen her car, gone on a massive police chase, dumped the sportscar off a bridge, then attacked two cops. Oh, and he’s the hero of the movie, too.

Nowadays the remake — starring Adam Sandler — is rated PG-13 and he’s a total wimp. Back in the ’70s you could get away with being vicious, sexist, homophobic and racist and live to tell about it. In 2005, Adam Sandler says the F-word in one of his movies and parents are banning the film companies.

Yup, this film is clearly racist, homophobic and misogynist. Women are treated as sexual objects throughout, from the opening to the part where a prison warden’s intern requests sexual favors from Burt Reynolds in return for handing him a movie-reel he needs.

African-Americans are portrayed as racist tough guys who are better than the whites at football, and they call whiteys “honkies” and other such words. In return all the whites are racist towards the blacks and it creates an interesting tension.

The homophobia sneaks into play when it’s suggested one of the inmates is in love with Burt Reynolds. Quite a funny scene, actually.

“The Longest Yard” was one of Robert Aldrich’s most successful films and many claimed it was him “selling out,” but viewed 30 years later this really does stand apart from many of the other sports-comedy films of the decade. What is so special about “The Longest Yard” is probably that it plays like a mix between “Cool Hand Luke,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Smokey and the Bandit” — it’s got car chases, it’s got sports, it’s got funny stuff, BUT it also spends a lot of time developing its characters and creating some very dramatic sequences.

This is well directed, gritty, and fun — not as much a “comedy” as you might expect, it is actually more serious. By the end of the film we’ve come to root for a bunch of murderers and rapists and even Burt Reynolds, and let’s face it — when was the last time you saw Burt Reynolds in a movie and actually LIKED his character?! A classic of the genre.

Review by MovieAddict2016

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