Take Down (1979 film)
|Directed by||Kieth Merrill|
|Produced by||Kieth Merrill|
David B. Johnston
|Written by||Eric Hendershot|
|Music by||Merrill Jenson|
|Edited by||Peter Teschner|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|Box office||$2 million|
Take Down is a 1979 American comedy-drama sports film directed by Kieth Merrill and released by Buena Vista Distribution Company. The plot concerns an unqualified teacher who finds himself saddled with coaching duties after a small group of high school seniors form a wrestling team in a last-ditch effort to end a 9-year losing streak against a rival school.
Ed Branish (Edward Herrmann), a snooty English teacher who finds his situation at Mingo Junction High School far beneath him and barely tolerable, flaunts his air of superiority over all, including his supportive wife (Kathleen Lloyd), by frequently spouting platitudes from literary masters to validate his often contemptuous viewpoint. Even his wife is starting to show signs of getting fed up with his narcissism.
His habit of having as little to do with his school as possible finally gets the better of him when his light schedule makes him the only staff member available to supervise the newly formed wrestling team. Cornered, he lashes out at the first student to cross his path – Nick Kilvitus (Lorenzo Lamas), a reserved 185 lbs. senior who's embarrassed by his near-poverty social status and who's also missed a lot of classes lately. No one realizes Nick's been filling in for his alcoholic father at a steel mill hauling I-beams when his dad's too drunk or hung over to show up (which is all too often), and which also keeps Nick busy at night fishing his embittered father out of bars – to be carried home across town because they don't have a working car.
Nick hopes he can make up the missed school work in Ed's class to graduate in Spring but instead gets a tongue-lashing on how he should be held back as an example of the consequences of laziness and irresponsibility. In turn, Nick calls Ed an "Egotistical snob" telling him that he is more interested in proving how book smart he is instead of teaching and as a result he is clueless when it comes to the real world and its everyday problems. Fortunately, because of the wrestling team, both will cross paths again and discover they each have much more to them than what they were previously aware.
- Edward Herrmann – Ed Branish
- Kathleen Lloyd – Jill Branish
- Lorenzo Lamas – Nick Kilvitus
- Maureen McCormick – Brooke Cooper
- Maxx Payne – Ted Yacabobich (credited as Darryl Peterson)
- Stephen Furst – Randy Jensen
- Toney Smith – Chauncey Washington
- Salvador Feliciano – Tom Palumbo
- Boyd Silversmith – Jack Gross
- Nicolas Beauvy – Jimmy Kier (credited as Nicholas Beauvy)
- Kevin Hooks – Jasper MacGrudder
- Scott Burgi – Robert Stankovich
- Lynn Baird – Doc Talada
- Ron Bartholomew – Warren Overpeck
- Vincent Roberts – Bobby Cooper
- David M Thorne – Hood #2
- Ray Perry – The Masked Wrestler
Take Down was filmed primarily in Utah, at the old American Fork High School campus prior to its being demolished and rebuilt. Scenes at other schools include a wrestling match shot at Murray High School in Murray, Utah. It was also filmed in Orem.
The movie was the first film produced by the American Film Consortium and had a budget of $2 million. Buena Vista Distribution Company acquired it for distribution, their first non-Disney release since Don't Look Now... We're Being Shot At! in 1969. This was the first film with a PG-Rating released by Disney, five years before they launched Touchstone Pictures to expand into the "adult" market.
Take Down was initially released January 1979 in the Salt Lake City area by American Film. Disney then bought the film rights and released it March 2, 1979 in Northern and Southern California, the Carolinas and the Midwest and grossed $2 million, which was not in line with Disney's expectations. Taft International Pictures later acquired the film.
The film was released on VHS by Unicorn Video in the 1980s.