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......Young, naive kid comes from the sticks to make it in the world of
big-college basketball, encounters a Bobby Knight-type tyrannical
coach, gets his ego stroked however by a caring teacher (tutor) and
that carries him through to where one day, when the starting guard goes
down with an injury, he gets his chance and turns into Magic
Johnson/Larry Bird....and then tells the coach where to stick it......
As writer Dave Barry used to say, "I am not making this up."
Here is another example of movie I re-watched on tape in the mid 1990s and wondered, "How could I have liked this film so much when it came out?" That was then, and now is now. Yes, one tends to be far less discerning when one is younger, but some movies also get dated in a hurry. This is one of them. Actually, actor Robby Benson is another. He was a hot commodity in the '70s but faded fast.
However, despite having said all of the above, this movie IS fun to watch.
Good acting (and ballplaying) by Benson as college student-athlete "Henry Steele" and G.D. Spradlin as hard-nosed basketball coach "Moreland Smith" set up some intense confrontations in this sports movie, another gritty one from the era.
Benson also was a hot actor in this decade, and he's convincing in this role. He usually played interesting characters, as did Spradlin, who was always effective as a villain. By the way, don't buy the Hollywood cliché that every sports coach is tyrannical maniac. In college basketball, ask the players at UCLA who played under John Wooden, or the cagers at Duke under "Coach K," or hundreds of other places. Most coaches are NOT Bobby Knight, as portrayed here. This character is over-the-top, big-time.
Anyway, this film is so engulfed with movie clichés like the above that you could easily drown in them. Everything is so predictable, such a cliché that it is embarrassing to watch this at times, although it is entertaining and must be given points for that. You know things will work out for "Henry Steele." It's how they do that get a bit irritating, and Henry's attitude isn't always admirable, either. Boy, do they manipulate you, however, in this film! You HAVE to root for the kid, even if he is a hot dog on the court.
Overall: this film will keep you involved, but don't believe anything in this story.
The movie is dated, but I still enjoy it. I guess I remember watching it
the first time. The whole coming of age thing, growing up,
What has really impressed me is Robby Benson's development over the years. He must be a good athlete: basketball, hockey, running, all seem to come naturally to him. I don't see the telltale back shots of doubles.
I enjoyed his acting and would like to see more. The last I heard he was teaching at USC. No not that one! The first one! The real one! The University of South Carolina in Columbia.
I would like to see what he could do with a mature role now.
Robby Benson and Annette O'Toole have good enough chemistry to make their
unlikely pairing a crowd pleaser nonetheless. Benson is very good as the
jock who is first coddled, then spurned, stirring the man within him. The
movie has a great deal of fun with the special treatment given Jocks.
Benson's work-study job is to turn the sprinklers on and off, but the
sprinklers work automatically. Gail Strickland and (Director) Lamont
Johnson are marvelous in small but hilarious supporting bits.
But the true star of the movie is G.D. Spradlin as the humorless and amoral hard-nosed basketball coach. Best exchange is when Benson says: "You're a great molder of character, coach" and Spradlin retorts, "You never asked me to mold your character." Spradlin is 100% true to his character as a John-Wooden-type of basketball coach. All in all, One on One shouldn't be taken too seriously but is quite enjoyable on its own terms.
This was the first Robbie Benson I ever saw. Once I did see it, I have
always been alert for other things which involved his talents.
This movie was especially meaningful to me because I took a much younger friend to view it with me. After seeing the movie I bought the fabulous movie soundtrack album by Seals and Crofts, and those songs were played over and over by this young friend and I until every word and note could be sung-along with the artists. I think this experience was an inspirational time for both myself and my young friend, who could identify in many ways with Benson's character.
Decades later I find that few fans of Seals and Crofts even know they recorded such a soundtrack, much less having any familiarity with the movie One On One. However, I have always since sought-out other features and appearances by Robbie Benson, and have become a life-long fan of this talented, if somewhat obscure, actor. I will continue to seek-out his productions and performances wherever Robbie Benson may show himself next. We are blessed by the gift of such a competent and gifted artist.
What can I remember about "One on One". I was like 10 years old. I think I saw it as a double-feature with another sports movie called "Take Down". That is when double-features existed and they usually had movies with similar themes. Anyhow, One on One is a pretty cool movie for anybody, let alone those who love basketball. I remember Robby Benson going to college and he is literally dwarfed by some of the other players. The center was 7'4", his new friend was like 6'6" and little Robby is only 5'11". But he still can dazzle us with his ball handling and great outside shots. He falls in love with a nice Freshman and the relationship is very sweet and tame. I think they may have kissed twice, one being just a simple short kiss. This is your typical underdog story told in a sport's theme while giving the audience the allure of young adults learning about life and love. The closing song and montage is also nice and reminiscent of the 70's.
I watched this when I was at Uni. I was going through a negative patch and
found that this film gave me a great lift. It taught me that it is much
fun doing things together than on your own. It also taught me that you can
succeed if you really have the desire.
The music was great and was added to my collection of soundtracks. It also turned me on to the talents of the leading lady.
A good feeling film.
One on One is the kind of film that infuriates me every time I see it.
There is much of it that is very good and highly watchable. Unfortunately,
there's also a good portion of it lousy enough that it makes a certain
aspect of this film darn near intolerable.
The premise of the story is intriguing enough. Small town and small of stature basketball player Henry Steele (Robby Benson) has spent most of his life doing nothing but practicing and playing basketball (sort of a white Michael Jordan with hair). He is recruited by Coach Moreland Smith (G.D. Spradlin) to play basketball for Western University (think UCLA) and Henry accepts. Since Henry is from a small rural school he is totally unprepared for what awaits him in college. The players are much bigger of course, the practices are ten times tougher and he has no clue even as to what his classes will be. Some of the best scenes in One on One are watching Henry overcoming his naiveness as he learns what being a college jock is about. In order to make sure that he keeps his grades up he is also sent to be tutored by Janet Hays (Annette O'Toole). Unfortunately for Henry, Janet also hates jocks, a fact that Henry quickly finds out on his first day of tutoring. Henry may be a naive jock, but he is not dumb and uses Janet's degrading put downs of a jock's ability to learn as incentive to prove her wrong. However, the more he studies, the more Henry has trouble coping with playing college basketball and it isn't long before Coach Smith asks him to renounce his scholarship.
OK, first I'll give you the good: Robby Benson gives a solid performance as the naive country-bumpkin basketball superstar. I don't have a clue as to how much basketball he actually played in his life but in this film he certainly looks as if he could step right out onto a basketball court and begin wowing the folks. Although he does take some favors such as a car for going to the university, Benson is able to convince us that he is simply too callow to understand the ramifications of receiving cars, trading tickets to alumni for cash, and working a job that requires no work.. That's why we are able to root for Henry.
Then there's the love story that develops between Henry and Janet. As Henry works to gains Janet's respect, we see her attitude change from one of disdain, to caring about Henry and eventually love. The fact that we can believe in the love story is due in no small measure to Annette O'Toole's Janet. She gives her character enough depth that we are able to see that Janet is not above learning a few things about people and how not to judge everyone as a group. When her boyfriend is ridiculing Henry, we almost sense the shame she feels from having done the same thing earlier in the film. It is this love story that is perhaps the best thing about One on One and darn it, if they had just made the movie more about that they would have been on safe ground.
Of course I could stop here with the review and spare you the pain of the bad but why should I suffer alone? Any film worth its salt will try and manipulate its audience in some fashion another. The really good ones do it in a either a subtle way that we don't know how much we are being manipulated, or do it in a manner in which we may realize we are being manipulated but we don't care. Then there are films like One on One that are so heavy-handed in its attempt to manipulate our emotions, that it ends up turning us off by doing the blatantly obvious.
If ever there was the epitome of a wicked evil college coach, it's Spradlin's Coach Smith. It doesn't take us too long to realize his character is way over the top. It's as if writers Benson and Segal made him a composite caricature of the absolute worst coaches to grace a basketball court and his basketball program is equally despicable. Coach Smith would make Bobby Knight appear saintly by comparison. For instance, after having personally recruited Henry and signing him, Smith doesn't even remember who he is when he shows up at his office. Players are given good paying jobs for doing nothing. College classes are re-routed so players can go to practice instead of taking exams. Players are given oodles of money by alumni. I have no doubt that some of these things go on in some college sports program, but if they did it as obvious and as much as Smith does, they would be on NCAA probation for decades. Later when Henry doesn't appear to be making the grade, Spradlin resorts to physical torture to try and get Henry to renounce his scholarship, and does it in front of the other players. From what we are told this isn't the first time that has happened but One on One would have us believe it's a common occurrence for Coach Smith. Would a coach who sanctions so much rule breaking actually insist on a player renouncing his scholarship and take the chance that a recruit would head right to the NCAA and have a true confession? All of these shenanigans are from a coach who expects to have an undefeated season. I don't blame Spradlin as his portrayal of Smith is what the script and character requires him to do. If Benson and Segal had toned this aspect down quite a bit, it would have made for a much better film simply because it might have been more believable. Instead they just about kill it by making Smith appear to be Satan in a jacket and tie.
My advice is to watch as Henry learns his way around college, watch the scenes between O'Toole and Benson, and concentrate on the growing love story between them and some of the other humorous scenes that deal with Henry's naiveté and growth as a person. As for the rest of the story, that's when you get up and make yourself a sandwich.
My grade: C+
G. D. Spradlin is a splendid actor. Between his role as the coach here,
and in the same role in the great football flick, "North Dallas Forty"
- he has undoubtedly won, hands-down, the prize for the best portrayal
of the quintessential "total horse's-ass coach." As others have
pointed-out, it is illogical that he would recruit Henry (Robby Benson)
as heavily as he did, then not know who he was when he reports on
campus. Also, he knew Henry was a small-school, small-in-stature,
fast-break player, whose talents were speed, ball handling and shooting
- and yet, he is non-plussed when this doesn't seem to fit with his
slower, ball control, "big-team" offensive philosophy.
The gratuities furnished Henry (automobile, do-nothing job, alum booster buying his game tickets for exorbitant amount) are beyond the scope even the most "liberal" programs would furnish - at least in terms of their obviousness, with little intent to provide some sense of legitimacy to them. And the coach's decision regarding Henry's scholarship, and his measures to try to drive him off the team, are over-the-top, even for the heavy-handed character portrayed (and even bearing in mind that big-time college athletic programs are not as altruistic as the schools like to portray).
But these contrivances are also what make the movie more interesting, and sometimes characterizations which are exaggerated help as much as they hinder the plot - and they do so here. I remember seeing Burt Reynolds with Johnny Carson on a show, discussing a movie in which Benson had appeared with him. He laughed about winning bets from others when Benson was able to do 100 sit-ups in about a minute. With some of the performances in sports movies, where the principals can be made to look like they can perform only by using trick photography or stunt doubles - it is a pleasure to watch Benson, who obviously is physically capable, and knows how to handle, pass and shoot a basketball. Annette O'Toole is engaging in the female lead, and together they make an attractive, appealing young couple.
Henry Steele grows up playing basketball in small town USA, doing well at
his high school he is soon signed by a college. There he enjoys easy money
and special treatment in many ways. However when he begins to fall for
Janet, who is teaching him extra classes, he loses his focus on the
basketball. This causes his coach to regret his pick and ask Henry to
resign his scholarship. When Henry refuses it begins a war of attrition
between the two.
At heart this is a tale of a little guy who overcomes obstacles in his attempt to do well in life and in sport. When I taped it all I knew was that it was a basketball movie, so I thought I'd give it a try. At the start I thought it was going to be all innocent as opposed to sports movies now that focus on the real side of it as well as the game (Any Given Sunday, Blue Chips etc), however this had layers of brutality, drugs, money being `given' to students etc. The story at core is one of Henry battling against his coach and it is quite good, but the added layers add more too.
It may never be excellent but it is better than expected and was quite enjoyable (even if the basketball is played at a bit slower pace than now!). Benson is a bit too innocent and whiney at times as Steele but once you get used to him it's ok he also co-wrote, not bad for a 21 year old! O'Toole is OK but isn't really anything other than a device for moving the plot on. Spradlin is good but for the first 20 minutes I could hear his voice giving better lines in a better film it bugged me until I placed him in Apocalypse Now. An almost unrecognisably young Melanie Griffith makes a brief appearance but overall the cast is good enough to keep this just above the level of a TVM.
Overall it may seem a little naive compared to modern college sports films but it's actually quite enjoyable, even if it won't change your life!
during the game in which "Western" is blowing out the visitors, the
camera pans the crowd, who look bored. I was picked to be one of the
"early leavers" and I think it's because I coincidentally (I didn't
know what the mythical U would be called) was wearing my WESTERN track
Also amusing, is that the crowd shots for the games were shot at CSU (Ft. Collins, Colorado) basketball auditorium in the winter. Since we were supposed to be in sunny southern California, we had to HIDE all our winter clothing -- hats, scarves, gloves, parkas. Quite a feat to get all the thousands in attendance to hide all that stuff.
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