Number One (1969 film)
Director Tom Gries
Budget 1 million USD
Country United States
Genre Drama, Sport
Music director Dominic Frontiere
Writer David Moessinger
|Release date August 21, 1969 (1969-08-21)|
Cast Charlton Heston (Ron Catlan), Jessica Walter (Julie Catlan), Bruce Dern (Richie Fowler), John Randolph (Coach Southerd), Diana Muldaur (Ann Marley), G. D. Spradlin (Doctor Tristler)
Similar movies Southpaw, Foxcatcher, Varsity Blues, Cars, Million Dollar Arm, Rocky
Number one 1969 radio promos
Number One is a 1969 American film drama released by United Artists and directed by Tom Gries.
The film stars Charlton Heston as Ron "Cat" Catlan, aging quarterback for American professional football's New Orleans Saints, and Jessica Walter as his wife. Musician Al Hirt plays himself, as do several real-life members of the 1968 Saints. The football scenes were shot at the Saints' then-home field, Tulane Stadium.
Ron "Cat" Catlan once led the New Orleans Saints to a championship (something the real-life Saints wouldn't experience until Super Bowl XLIV in the 2009 NFL season). After fifteen years in pro football, he tries to compensate for his failing skills with booze and an extramarital affair. ("You're not even worth the price of a ticket anymore," a fan yells at him after Cat refuses her an autograph.)
Friend and teammate Richie Fowler (Bruce Dern) offers Cat a job with his auto-leasing company, and a management position in the computer industry is also on the table, but Catlan hesitates, insisting he can still lead the squad to future glory. The associate with the computer firm warns him not to put off making a decision: "There are a lot of kids coming out of college, Cat, and they're smart kids. A year from now, I might not be able to offer you a job driving the company truck."
Things are no better at home for Catlan: his long-suffering wife, Julie (Jessica Walter), threatens to leave him after too many booze-fueled outrages and late nights with other women. She begins to drift away into her own life, leading Cat to an abortive affair with Ann (Diana Muldaur).
Cat finally begs Julie to stay, saying everything will be alright after he leads the Saints to another title. In the end, though, Catlan is crushed in a violent sack by a Dallas Cowboys player, seemingly ending his football career. Julie can be seen leaving the stadium, apparently unconcerned with her husband's condition.
Despite having All-Pro signal-caller Billy Kilmer as an instructor, Charlton Heston did not make a very convincing pro quarterback. "I marveled at how skinny he was in a Saints uniform," said local DJ Bob Walker, who was an extra in the movie. "It hung on him like a cheap suit three sizes too big. When the cameras weren't rolling we watched him try to throw some passes. His receiver was 10-20 yards away and his alleged passes didn't come close." Joe Wendryhoski, who basically played himself in the film as the Saints center, called Heston "a great guy, very sociable" who unfortunately "didn't have an athletic bone in his body. As a quarterback, he left a lot to be desired."
In the final scene when Catlan is crushed by the Dallas defense (actually portrayed by Saints players Mike Tilleman, Dave Rowe and Fred Whittingham), neither Heston nor the producer felt the hit on him was realistic enough, so Heston asked them to cut loose to really make it look authentic. On the second take, the trio slammed the actor to the ground, breaking three of his ribs.
Number One was a commercial failure, but critical reaction was mixed. The film, and particularly Heston's performance, did earn a rave review from Howard Thompson of The New York Times, who called the "consistently engrossing" film, "...a succinct, stinging and often strong gridiron drama...." Thompson described Heston's performance as "a brooding, scorching and beautifully disciplined tour de force for the actor....If Heston could have been better, we don't know how."
Plans for the film were announced in 1966 to be made by the same team as The War Lover.
The National Football League permitted the New Orleans Saints' name and jerseys to be used, as opposed to many football films featuring professional teams with fictional names. A championship in the team's past is alluded to, but likely would not have been a Super Bowl, since the film was shot in 1968 and the NFL's title game did not become the Super Bowl until 1967. (Furthermore, the Saints didn't even exist until 1966.)
Number One had never been issued on DVD for many years, but old copies on VHS existed. On November 12, 2015 however, MGM released the film on DVD for the first time.
ReferencesNumber One (1969 film) Wikipedia
Number One (1969 film) IMDb Number One (1969 film) themoviedb.org