All Banged Up and No Place to Go: “Number One” (1969)


A Full Glass of Brooding With a Jazz Chaser: Aging New Orleans quarterback “Cat” Catlan (Charlton Heston) sullenly ponders his future while Al Hirt provides needless local color in Tom Gries’ consistently distracted sports drama “Number One”.

        “Number One”  (1969)

    Considering the amount of complex psychology involved in both the achieving and the rudimentary maintenance of high level performance in sports, it is surprising how little of this is reflected in Hollywood’s occasional forays into the world of athletics; that is unless one considers the film industry’s usual lazy path in the exploration of the human experience in favor of easy and proven formula (even if this approach proves repeatedly insubstantial, as there is no safer method in maintaining one’s professional status in the film industry than in resisting the risk of originality). Why bother with the unglamorous reality of individual or group anxieties consistent with high stakes competitiveness when there are fertile fields of coarse melodrama, adultery and colorful substance abuse to enliven the usual offerings of artificial treacle enhanced tales of either miraculous inspiration of tear-jerker heartbreak? With the field of  cinema sports reduced to convenient and relentlessly repetitive and shallow formulaic contrivance, it is little wonder the popularized conception of the “dumb jock” was seldom challenged.

    “Number One”, which proposes a deeper look at the base insecurity of the competitive ego, is the kind of film whose occasional moments of interest only serve to magnify the disappointment in the fact that what is substantial is limited to the momentary. Frequently the film halts for what are probably meant as lyrical interludes of reflection,  (including the umpteenth dissolve heavy montage of a tryst before a roaring fireplace), a directorial penchant which beckons impatience considering how sparse the attention granted penetrating character development which would fortifying the few truly affecting scenes in the film.

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About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
This entry was posted in Charlton Heston, football, Romance, sports, women, writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to All Banged Up and No Place to Go: “Number One” (1969)

  1. beetleypete says:

    I wondered why I hadn’t seen this, so read it again.
    Of course, ‘Sports Drama’. That explains it!
    Best wishes, Ty Cobb.

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