A Movie A Day #32: Number One (1969, directed by Tom Gries)


number-oneQuarterback Cat Catlan (Charlton Heston) used to be one of the greats.  For fifteen years, he has been a professional football player.  He probably should have retired after he led the New Orleans Saints to their first championship but, instead, the stubborn Cat kept playing.  Now, he is 40 years old and struggling to keep up with the younger players.  His coach (John Randolph) says that Cat has another two or three years left in him but the team doctor (G.D. Spradlin who, ten years later, played a coach in North Dallas Forty) says that one more strong hit could not only end Cat’s career but possibly his life as well.  Two of former Cat’s former teammates (Bruce Dern and Bobby Troup) offer to help Cat find a job off the field but Cat tells them the same thing that he tells his long-suffering wife (Jessica Walter).  He just has to win one more championship.

Number One is unique for being one of the first movies to ever take a look at the dark side of professional football.  At 40, Cat is facing an uncertain future.  His years of being a star have left him unprepared to deal with life in the real world.  He has no real friends and a wife who no longer needs him.  This would seem like a perfect role for Heston, who always excelled at playing misanthropes.  Heston is convincing when he’s arguing with his wife or refusing to sign an autograph but, surprisingly, he is thoroughly unconvincing whenever he’s on the field.  For all of his grunting and all the lines delivered through gritted teeth, Heston is simply not believable as a professional athlete, even one who is past his prime.  (When he played the 40 year-old Cat, Heston was 46 and looked like he was 56.)  Whenever Cat throws a football, he’s played by Heston in close-ups and very obviously replaced by real-life Saints quarterback Billy Kilmer for the long shots.  A football film is only as good and convincing as the football action and, on that front, Number One leaves much to be desired.

The 1969 press photo displays Heston's throwing technique.

This 1969 press photo displays Heston’s throwing technique.

Two final notes: For the scene in which Cat is tackled by three Dallas Cowboys (all played by actual players), Heston requested that the players actually tackle him.  Heston ended up with three broken ribs.

Finally, Number One was made the cooperation of the New Orleans Saints and features several players in the cast.  When Number One was filmed, the Saints were still a relatively new expansion team.  Cat is described as having already led the Saints to a championship but it would actually be another 40 years before the Saints would finally make their first trip to the Super Bowl.

Music Video of the Day: Magic by The Cars (1984, dir. Tim Pope)


According to my calendar, today is Imbolc that is celebrated by Pagans and Wiccans. I know that there is some sorta music video that does exist from 1979 for The Cars’ song Dangerous Type. All I can find are live performances. I could use the cover version that Letters To Cleo did for the movie The Craft (1996). I don’t want to. Especially not when there is this one called Magic, where Ric Ocasek walks on water. I’ve been itching to spotlight this music video.

I kind of wanna just say to simply sit back and enjoy, but there are a couple of things to point out:

  1. This is the obvious one. The song is about a relationship that makes you feel like you can walk on water, so they literally made it seem that Ocasek was walking on water. That’s at least what Songfacts tells me. It makes sense to me.
  2. To create the illusion of walking on water, they built a little platform for him to stand on in the pool that you can see in several shots. The platform collapsed the first time, and they had to adjust it to take his weight.
  3. This is best one. It was filmed at Paris Hilton’s family estate when she was little. I believe she would have been 2 or 3 at the time. She’s not in the video. According to Wikipedia, Kathy Hilton rented the band her house for the music video. The house would also be used a few years later for the movie Blind Date (1987).

I know one of the people is Uncle Sam and another is probably Jesus, but if you have a guess as to who the guy with the eyepatch is, then let me know. I would have thought Patch, of Patch Kayla from Days Of Our Lives. Unfortunately, their characters wouldn’t become a thing till 1986.

The video was produced by Beth Broday. She seems to have done about 20 music videos. A notable one being True Colors for Cyndi Lauper.

With that out of the way, sit back and enjoy!