We Are Marshall
|We Are Marshall|
|Produced by||Basil Iwanyk
|Screenplay by||Jamie Linden|
|Story by||Jamie Linden
|Music by||Christophe Beck|
|Edited by||Priscilla Nedd-Friendly
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
We Are Marshall is a 2006 American historical drama biopic film directed by McG. It depicts the aftermath of the 1970 plane crash that killed 37 football players on the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team, along with five coaches, two athletic trainers, the athletic director, 25 boosters, and a crew of five. It also addresses the rebuilding of the program and the healing that the community undergoes (shown in a post-credits scene).
Matthew McConaughey stars as head coach Jack Lengyel, with Matthew Fox as assistant coach William "Red" Dawson, David Strathairn as university president Donald Dedmon, and Robert Patrick as ill-fated Marshall head coach Rick Tolley. Then-governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue has a cameo role as an East Carolina University football coach.
Southern Airways Flight 932 was a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 that Marshall University chartered to transport the Thundering Herd football team to Greenville, North Carolina, via Stallings Field in Kinston, North Carolina, and back to Marshall's campus in Huntington, West Virginia. On the evening of November 14, 1970, the aircraft clipped trees on a ridge just one mile short of the runway at Tri-State Airport in Ceredo, West Virginia, and crashed into a gully.
The team was returning from its game against the East Carolina University Pirates, a 17–14 loss. There were no survivors. In all, 75 people lost their lives. The deceased included the 37 players; head coach Rick Tolley and five members of his coaching staff; Charles E. Kautz, Marshall's athletics director; team athletic trainer Jim Schroer and his assistant, Donald Tackett; 25 boosters; and five crew members.
In the wake of the tragedy, University President Donald Dedmon leans towards indefinitely suspending the football program, but he is ultimately persuaded to reconsider by the pleas of the Marshall students and Huntington residents, and especially the few football players who didn't make the flight, led by Nate Ruffin. Dedmon hires a young new head coach Jack Lengyel, who with the help of Red Dawson, the sole surviving member of the previous coaching staff, manages to rebuild the team in a relatively short time, despite losing many of their prospects to West Virginia University. Dedmon travels to Kansas City, where he pleads with the NCAA to waive their rule prohibiting freshmen from playing varsity football (a rule which had been abolished in 1968 for all sports except for football and basketball, and would be permanently abolished for those sports in 1972). Dedmon returns victorious.
The new team is composed mostly of the 18 returning players (three varsity, 15 sophomores) and walk-on athletes from other Marshall sports programs. Due to their lack of experience, the "Young Thundering Herd" ends up losing its first game, 29-6, to the Morehead State Eagles. The loss weighs heavily on Dawson and Ruffin, who had been hurt in the first play of the game. The Herd's first post-crash victory is a heart-stopping 15–13 home win against Xavier University in the first home game of the season.
- Matthew McConaughey - Jack Lengyel
- Matthew Fox - William "Red" Dawson
- Anthony Mackie - Nate Ruffin
- Arlen Escarpeta - Reggie Oliver
- David Strathairn - Donald Dedmon
- Ian McShane - Paul Griffen
- Kate Mara - Annie Cantrell
- January Jones - Carole Dawson
- Kimberly Williams-Paisley - Sandy Lengyel
- Brian Geraghty - Tom Bogdan
- Tommy Cresswell - Gene Morehouse
- Christian Kanupke - Keith Morehouse
- Nina Jones - Mrs. Morehouse
- Robert Patrick - Coach Rick Tolley (Uncredited)
Filming of We Are Marshall commenced on April 3, 2006, in Huntington, West Virginia, and was completed in Atlanta, Georgia. The premiere for the film was held at the Keith Albee Theater on December 12, 2006, in Huntington; other special screenings were held at Pullman Square. The movie was released nationwide on December 22, 2006.
Several aspects of the film were changed for dramatic purposes, although the gist of the story was retained.
Deborah Novak and John Witek, who produced the 2000 documentary Marshall University: Ashes to Glory, filed a $40 million lawsuit in federal court in California accusing Warner Bros. and others associated with the We Are Marshall film of fraud, copyright infringement, and breach of contract. Novak, who directed Marshall University: Ashes to Glory, is a Huntington native and Marshall alumna. In October 2008, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in a summary judgment in favor of Warner Bros.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 49% out of 124 professional critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 5.8/10 and the site consensus stating: "Matthew McConaughey almost runs We Are Marshall to the end zone, but can't stop it from taking the easy, feel-good route in memorializing this historic event in American sports."
The film's directing was criticized by many reviewers. Peter Hartlaub, from the San Francisco Chronicle, blamed director McG for "half of the movie problems" and went further on saying that "He has a kinetic and kitschy style that could make next year's "Hot Wheels" movie a surprise hit, but he's completely out of place here." Peter Howell from the Toronto Star said the film lacked genuine drama or conflict.
McConaughey's performance was, according to some critics, one of the film's highlights. Roger Moore from the Orlando Sentinel gave it 4 stars out of 5 and said in his review that "We Are Marshall (it's the rally cry of the team) doesn't always have a handle on the grief, but it does keep emotions close to the surface. That allows McConaughey to be the most refreshing, funny and believable he ever has been."
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- The name of the movie is based on a cheer performed by students and players at the university, which is also featured prominently in the movie.
- In the movie, newspaper headlines are from the combined Sunday newspaper of the Huntington Herald-Dispatch.
- In the movie, a radio announcer calls Marshall's opponent the "Xavier Pirates." In real life, the school's nickname was, and still is, the Xavier Musketeers. "Pirates" is the nickname of East Carolina University, Marshall's opponent in their final game before the crash.
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- In the end credits of the movie, clips are shown of some of the more prominent players in Marshall history, such as former NFL players: quarterback Chad Pennington; wide receiver Randy Moss; and quarterback Byron Leftwich.
- The real William "Red" Dawson can be seen in the movie as the coach of Morehead State.
- 1971 quarterback Dave Walsh can be seen in the movie as an assistant for Xavier.
- The real Jack Lengyel had a cameo appearance in the movie.
- Another notable cameo was by Keith Morehouse, the current sports director for WSAZ-TV in Huntington and play-by-play announcer for Marshall broadcasts. He followed in the footsteps of his father Gene Morehouse, who was Marshall's play-by-play announcer when he was killed in the crash. Keith's future wife was one of the 18 children left orphaned by the crash.
- Sonny Perdue, governor of Georgia at the time the movie was filmed, has a cameo role as an East Carolina assistant coach.
- Dorsey Levens, a former Green Bay Packers running back, has a cameo as the Xavier head coach. This casting is an anachronism as well, since no major college football program would hire an African American head coach until 1979.
- Former Cabell County sheriff and Huntington mayor Kim Wolfe appears as a police officer in the scene of the crash aftermath.
- "We Are Marshall". The-numbers.com. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
- [dead link]
- "Jamie Linden". IMDb. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
- ""We Are Marshall" And "The Marshall Story" - Hollywood vs Reality". Corn Nation. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
- "Deborah Novak et al v. Warner Bros Pictures LLC et al". Justia Dockets & Filings. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
- Josh Grossberg, Warner Bros. Wins Marshall Suit, E! Online, October 28, 2008. Accessed January 3, 2014
- We Are Marshall. Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- "'Marshall' fumbles in telling moving true story". SFGate. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
- "'We Are Marshall': Predictable pigskin tale". thestar.com. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
- [dead link]
- Official website
- We Are Marshall at the Internet Movie Database
- We Are Marshall at Box Office Mojo
- We Are Marshall at Metacritic
- Check-Six.com - Information about the 1970 crash with crew and passenger list
- We Are Marshall at Marshall University
- Review of the Book 'The Marshall Story' - Tells the story of Marshall Football
- Marshall University Memorial page
- american football films - we are marshall