parade last year at Disneyland.
Super Bowl Sunday is always "movie day" for me! My choice this afternoon was TWO-MINUTE WARNING (1976), in which police captain Charlton Heston and SWAT sergeant John Cassavetes need to take out a sniper threatening the crowd attending a championship football game at the L.A. Coliseum.
The first hour of the movie is quite weak, reminiscent of Heston's EARTHQUAKE (1974). Heston is barely seen in the first 45 minutes or so, where screen time alternates between the first-person perspective of the psycho would-be shooter and introductions to a slew of people attending the game, most of whom it's hard to care about.
The most fun in the first hour comes from the flashbacks to my childhood, with Howard Cosell on the screen, Merv Griffin singing the national anthem, cigarette smoking everywhere (even in the tight quarters of the TV broadcast trailer), gigantic walkie-talkies, and of course the awful '70s fashions and hairstyles.
In one of the most amusing moments, Bellwood squawks over paying $5 for parking in an offsite lot near the Coliseum, to which Bridges retorts if they don't pay it they'll have to walk a mile. A quick Google search turned up the information that offsite parking near the Coliseum now ranges between $100 and $200. Yep, just to park on game day!
The second half of the movie was quite entertaining and made it all worthwhile. Once a member of the TV crew notices that the Goodyear blimp camera has picked up shots of a man with a rifle near the Olympic torch, it's a lot more fun, if silly at times. For instance, how is it that Beau Bridges is the only one of 90,000 spectators to notice the man with the rifle with his binoculars?!
Heston and Cassavetes' characters have a slightly prickly relationship, as they have differing philosophies, but they put minor differences aside to work together as a team. I really enjoyed the police procedural aspect as law enforcement coordinates its approach '70s style, including an officer watching the TV monitor and passing on the sniper's movements via walkie-talkie.
There are many familiar TV faces in the large supporting cast, including Vincent Baggetta, Mitchell Ryan, Brock Peters, Robert Ginty, Larry Manetti, William Bryant, Tom Bower, and Brad Savage.
In a nice touch, the TV directors in the booth seem to have been genuine TV tech guys rather than actors. There's a great deal of overlapping dialogue in the TV booth scenes and I suspect it was easier coming from people who knew what they were talking about!
TWO-MINUTE WARNING was directed by Larry Peerce and filmed by Gerald Hirschfeld.
The movie runs 115 minutes. According to IMDb there was a padded TV version, which I vaguely recall airing back in the day, but trust me, this movie needed no additional scenes! The movie could easily have been tightened up further; for instance, why on earth did we need to watch Jack Klugman's annoyance at finding mustard on his stadium seat? (Update: Be sure to read the comment about the TV version following this post.)
Parental Advisory: The DVD box indicates the movie is rated R. There's a fair amount of cussing, though not as bad as R movies today, and some blood when people are shot, but again not that bad by modern standards, though a bit startling. I suspect if the movie were rated today it would be a PG-13, which seems about right.
I watched the widescreen DVD. It's also out on Blu-ray and can be streamed on Amazon.
There's a nice review of the movie by Jeff at The Stalking Moon. My name turns up there in the comments -- it sure took me longer to get around to seeing this movie than I'd planned! There's also an informative post on the movie's L.A. locations by Robby at Dear Old Hollywood.