That Championship Season (1982 film)
|That Championship Season|
DVD cover for That Championship Season (1982)
|Directed by||Jason Miller|
|Produced by||Menahem Golan
|Written by||Jason Miller|
|Music by||Bill Conti|
|Edited by||Richard Halsey|
|Distributed by||Cannon Films|
That Championship Season is Jason Miller's 1982 film version of his 1973 Pulitzer Prize winning Broadway play of the same name. It stars Robert Mitchum, Martin Sheen, Bruce Dern, Stacy Keach and Paul Sorvino and was filmed on location in Scranton, Pennsylvania where it is set.
In 1999, Sorvino directed a new adaptation of the play for Showtime in which he played Mitchum's role as the coach. This version co-starred Vincent D'Onofrio, Gary Sinise, Tony Shalhoub and Terry Kinney.
It has been 25 years since the 1957 Fillmore High School (fictional) basketball team won the Pennsylvania state championship. The coach and four of the victors regularly gather to relive the glory of their shining moment.
As teenage teammates they could read each other's moves on the court without fail. As middle-aged men, each is facing his own different mid-life crisis. With a former coach that still addresses problems as if his boys are having a bad game, the friends' longtime loyalty to one another begins to unravel.
George Sitkowski (Bruce Dern) is mayor of Scranton and engaged in a fierce campaign for re-election. James Daley (Stacy Keach) is an overwrought and underpaid school principal while his brother, Tom (Martin Sheen), has become a drifter with a serious drinking problem. Phil Romano (Paul Sorvino) is the wealthiest among them. He often bends the law and even betrays a friend to indulge his own needs, but George badly needs his support.
The intended celebratory nature of this reunion is quickly dissipated. Various contentions arise among the four old teammates, who quickly turn on one another. The coach's bigotry—then and now—and his selfish disregard for fair play are brought again to the surface. The absence of the team's star player, who hates the coach, serves to further spotlight the futility and hollowness of this gathering.
- Robert Mitchum as Coach Daniel B. Delaney
- Martin Sheen as Tom Daley
- Stacy Keach as James Daley
- Bruce Dern as George Sitkowski
- Paul Sorvino as Phil Romano
- Arthur Franz as Macken
Jason Miller's play opened off-Broadway in 1972. After critical acclaim and 144 performances, it moved to a Broadway theater for a run of 844 more performances before closing on April 21, 1974.
For years Miller attempted to bring the play to the big screen before succeeding in 1982. As writer and director, he insisted on filming the exteriors in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where the story takes place. Miller was raised and educated there and his intent was to showcase the city and its people.
The first quarter of the film does just that as the characters and situations unfold. Locations used included Nay Aug Park (featuring a political rally using the townspeople as extras), the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad headquarters, the Martz Trailways terminal, Lackawanna Avenue, the city council chambers and more.
William Friedkin was originally going to direct the movie (he had worked with Jason Miller before on The Exorcist). Before he dropped out, Friedkin offered the part of Coach Delaney to William Holden. Holden was interested but died before he could accept the part.
The stars and director were paid $250,000 each plus a percentage of the profits. The film did a great deal to help the reputation of the fledgling Cannon Films, who financed the movie.
However, the film was not a hit at the box office, and it lost money.
In 2004, the film was released on DVD by MGM Home Entertainment.
- Andrew Yule, Hollywood a Go-Go: The True Story of the Cannon Film Empire, Sphere Books, 1987 p25
- "Berlinale: 1983 Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-11-20.