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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Who is the bad guy? The bad guy is the guy who tries to force Steele to renounce his scholarship through force,intimidation,financial, and physical harm. The bad guy is the guy who gets another player to bust Steele's nose, cut bloody Steele's face. Not one of the best movies. But one I've always liked. I just like the way that Henry didn't quit through all that adversity. Through the students telling him he wasn't smart enough and the jocks/coaches telling him he wasn't athletic enough. Henry takes all the punishment the coach throws at him and works to make himself better and stronger. The actor playing Steele pulls off the look of a young naive basketball player perfectly. Sure Henry wasn't perfect...taking a car to come there and trusting his roommate and taking that stuff to "pep him up" and then "hotdogging" after taking that stuff. But that just adds even more to his naivety. It's a really good movie if you don't take it too serious. A good underdog movie.
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+
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a great sports movie, and the beginning and the end both show kids playing basketball (the difference is seeing Henry (Robbie Benson) watching as opposed to actually playing at the end works). My favorite scene is with the Hitchhiker, because I am a huge Melanie Griffith fan (this is just one of 23 films I have seen of hers), so obviously seeing Melanie as the hitchhiker is a treat. The single biggest flaw is the Promo for the movie which is "There comes a time when love stops being a ball and becomes a woman." If you actually see the movie (Spoilers ahead). You see that he still loves basketball AND Janet (Annette O'Toole), and is able to have both. What the movie is about is really character growth. Henry has no idea how Big Time College's work (Athletically and especially Academically). Watch how he first meets Coach Moreland Smith G.D. Spradlin, who has no idea that he recruited him. Smith is a real piece of work, he basically uses his secretary as a prostitute for the team and when he wants Henry off the team, has another player beat him up, and tries to get him expelled from School. As bad as Smith is, the worst character is Malcolm (James G. Richardson), an arrogant teacher who is sleeping with his Graduate Student (Janet), and looking down on Henry because he plays basketball. The Henry/Janet relationship is complex, it goes from her looking down on him, to being a couple. There is about a 5 year difference between the two, but in my opinion, the reason it works, is because of not only the character growth in Henry, but Janet as well. She stops looking down on him, and learns that Henry works hard at everything, is not stupid, and he stands up for her, and treats her in a respectful way that no one else does. Obviously, we know in the end that Henry helps win the game, and is able to walk away from Smith, head held high (that is obvious right from the beginning). But for his future, watch the scene where he mocks talking to his father on the phone: He knows his dad will not approve of him being with an older woman, but it does not matter. Why? Because he made a choice (which is Janet), So wherever he goes in life (maybe even playing in the NBA one day), Janet will be with him side by side. 10/10 stars
I saw many years ago and thought it the best I had seen. I saw it as funny, sad and true for all players whose bubble is burst. A movie for the player who wants to see how coaches treat players and how players think they should be treated. It also shows how some view the world of sport and don't appreciate the effort and trauma that can be involved in reaching the top, or trying to. Tutors also can be unfriendly to the player who is not an academic. It also shows how high school coaches do not always teach to players how to play, only how to win for them. As I come from a country does not have basketball stadiums of this size I was amazed at the size of the stadium and the crowds etc involved in a game.
I came across this movie on TV by chance, and was compelled to keep
watching purely due to Robbie Benson's performance. If you are in any
way a fan of the young (or older) charming, adorable, and sexy Robby
Benson, this movie is worth your time. A young, completely collagen,
silicone, and botox free, Melanie Griffith also has a wonderful little
part as a hitchhiker at the beginning of the film. The first ten
minutes are worth watching just for her!! (And I don't even like
In the lead role as Henry Steele, Robby Benson is completely engaging and totally believable as a naive and talented basketball player having his eyes opened to the realities of life in the big city and the world of big-business college sports. He also clearly trained physically for the part, increasing both his watchability on the court (as an athlete) as well as his sex appeal. Annette O'Toole is charming as his tutor; it is not hard to see why she grows to care about him as he rises to her challenge to study hard in spite of "jock" stereotypes.
As for Henry's conflicts with his coach and his difficulties in practice, while this part of the storyline is undoubtedly heavy-handed, his character is all the more lovable for the trials he faces physically, emotionally, and morally, both on and off the court. In addition, the story of the smalltown sports star who finds himself "humbled" when up against other great players from across the country is always interesting, even if it is overdone in certain respects.
Although the storyline overall is entirely predictable, the performances hold up over time. I found myself wishing Robby Benson was still a young heartthrob--or at least putting his pretty face, as well as his other talents, in front of the camera more often.
Be forewarned, however; unlike the rest of the film, the '70s ballads used for the soundtrack do not stand the test of time. Also, the corny movie tagline does not do the film justice.
While ultimately unimportant to the overall plot, I did find it quite annoying that so little attention was paid to the fact that Henry Steele is supposed to be this great basketball star, yet he's at least a foot shorter than every other player. It is mentioned maybe twice in the entire film. If you won't be able to set this annoyance aside while you watch, ... better to save this film for someone else.
Note: I would like to thank the previous reviewer, whose spot-on comments helped me pay attention to (and even re-watch) the film's better scenes, while pointing my finger to the fast-forward button on my TiVo at some of the "less-than-stellar" movie moments.
Robby Benson co-wrote and stars in this simplistic basketball drama about a short but energetic high school basketball star who graduates to a university team on scholarship, immediately butting heads with the hard-ass coach when he appears not to be living up to his reputation. Of course there's also a spunky female graduate student assigned to the faltering phenom as a tutor (no growing pains portrait should be without one). Derivative sports drama with a soft-spoken hero who refuses to give up, leading to his participation in the Big Game (complete with his new sweetheart in the stands). G.D. Spradlin is over-the-top as the coach; his menacing quality and hayseed-sheriff persona are far heavier qualities than this flimsy script can support. Benson constantly wants to manage our responses to him: he's the naïve kid who is conned by a nubile hitchhiker, he's the quiet guy who's shy around girls, he's the budding rebel who tells the coach "I'm gonna beat you!" We're not allowed to perceive any of his angelic attributes for ourselves--it's spelled out in the writing. Young audiences at the time naturally responded to the climax (which is well-mounted by director Lamont Johnson), but the movie is a connect-the-dots job. ** from ****
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This entertaining, believable account of a gormless football player's freshman year at uni, was co-written by actor Robby Benson, who is perfectly cast in the central role. The support players are also first rate, particularly G.D. Spradlin as the coach. Lamont Johnson's inventive direction with its fluid camera work, fast cutting and splendid use of actual locations at Colorado State, reveals a suddenly acquired feeling for the medium that is absent from many of his previous films. The music score is a second rate imitation of that used in The Graduate, but it serves its purpose nevertheless. Donald Maxwell Morgan's fine location lensing (good to see that he is still going strong) and other credits are first-rate. Production values are unstinting with crowds of extras. Best of all, the screenplay is keenly observant, not only of the machinations and politics of college basketball, but even in regards to the patter between TV commentators. Annette O'Toole (good to see that she is still going strong!) is splendid as the girl who gives young Benson his comeuppance. And Melanie Griffth (also still going strong) is equally effective as a shakedown hitchhiker.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
BEING SORT OF yet another entry into the underdog vs. the rest of the
known world genre, we review and respectively submit for your approval,
our recollections and perspective on this Robby Benson vehicle. . And
proud it should be as this ONE ON ONE joins in lock step with such
entries as the recent THE BLIND SIDE, ROCKY (and his friends: II, III,
IV, V, BALBOA & now CREED) and HOOSIERS.
ALTHOUGH WE HAVE dared to classify this perhaps forgotten little family picture from 1977, it does have some inherent elements that fly in the face of any attempt at pigeon holing it. In addition to the obligatory struggle that indeed is at the center of any drama like this, ONE ON ONE dares to break away on its own, pursuing a definite different route in its path to a successful conclusion.
MORE SPECIFICALLY, THE film introduces an additional obstacle to the chagrin of protagonist, Henry Steele (Robby Benson). The iron fisted and authoritarian rule by Head Basketball Coach Moreland Smith (G.D. Spradlin).* The Coach takes as a personal affront the young Steele's open display of being a free spirit. The Coach pulls the rug out from beneath him; voiding his athletic scholarship.
IT IS AT this juncture that the young student athlete's future becomes most dependent on his student tutor, Janet Hayes (Annette O'Toole). Whereas the slightly older co-ed had been less than sympathetic to his plight, her attitude quickly shifts as her prepping him for his various courses continues after her stipend is also spiked by the coach. In spite of earlier hostilities, the two become L-O-V-E-R-S!
THE STORY REACHES a climax, a crescendo and a conclusion (all three)when young Steele, who managed to not only remain on the Varsity hoops squad, but also manages to win the big game. Rather than offering any apology with his congratulations, the coach offers to reinstate his tuition free ride. To this, young Steele replies by referencing the coach. Quoting a previous tirade of Coach Smith's of: "Up your ass with a red hot poker.
THE TWO YOUNG lovers are the shown going off somewhere, embracing and enthusiastically swapping spits. (Shocked, Schultz?)
NOTE * Veteran character actor was well cast in the role of Coach Moreland Smith, which was very similar to his characterization of head Coach B.A. Strothers in NORTH DALLAS FORTY (1979). As a matter of fact, Mr. Spradlin most usually played unsympathetic, snake in the grass types. Remember him as Senator Geary in THE GODFATHER: PART II? The only "good guys" in his resume that we recall are those appearances as a LAPD Police Captain on the DRAGNET TV Series in the late 1960's o mid '70's!
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.
I saw this movie the year it came out, and loved it. It was a great
"underdog prevails" story, but the romance was what gave it its warmth
and charm. It was sort of in the same style as "Vision Quest", which
came nearly a decade later. The soundtrack was wonderful too.
However, I re-rented it in 2006, and it was so dated...it was really corny and funny. It's true that it was a timely topic in the late 70's when athletes were offered ridiculously extravagant packages to entice them to play for certain colleges. Now, not so much...
Still, even after all these years, corny or not, it is a charming movie.
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