The Longest Day appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although the movie often looked quite good, the transfer left a general impression of mediocrity.
Many of the problems related to sharpness. Quite a few shots came across as fairly soft and ill-defined, partially due to some noticeable edge enhancement. Much of the film seemed pretty accurate, but the fuzzy shots created distractions. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, however, and source flaws were reasonably minor. A fair amount of grain appeared at times, and I also noticed occasional marks, specks, and blotches.
Colors varied but usually were acceptable. The film manifested a few vivid scenes, though those stayed in the minority. In general, the hues looked a bit messy and faded, but not badly so, and they seemed reasonably concise. Blacks were similar. Though they lacked great richness, they demonstrated passable darkness. Low-light shots could be a bit dim, though they were never too tough to discern. Occasionally Yard offered very nice visuals, especially during the swamp scenes. Otherwise it was too erratic to muster a mark above a “C+”.
Similar thoughts greeted the mediocre monaural soundtrack of The Longest Yard. On the positive side, percussive elements sounded quite good, as they presented surprisingly tight and effective bass. The rest of the score tended to come across as slightly feeble and shrill, however. Effects lacked much range. They veered toward the brittle side of things and could become a bit distorted during louder scenes.
Speech showed some edginess and was never more than passable. Lines were intelligible but lacked much life or definition. This was an average track for a movie from 1974.
Referred to as the “Lockdown Edition”, this DVD of Yard packs a few extras. We open with an audio commentary from actor Burt Reynolds and writer/producer Albert S. Ruddy. Both men sit together for this amiable running, screen-specific piece. Largely anecdotal in nature, the pair discuss troubles bringing the movie to the screen even with Ruddy’s clout as the producer of The Godfather, casting and the use of real football players, locations and sets, and various story issues.
Mostly all this acts as an excuse for Reynolds to chat about the shoot and tell us stories. He does so well and helps make this a charming and enjoyable conversation. At times the pair simply narrate the flick, and dead air becomes a moderate problem, especially during the film’s second half; the guys run out of steam as they progress. Nonetheless, I find this to be a likable little piece.
Next we find a pair of featurettes. Doing Time on The Longest Yard runs 11 minutes and 37 seconds and includes the usual allotment of movie clips, archival materials, and interviews. We hear from Ruddy, Reynolds, Sports Illustrated senior writer Michael Silver, USA Today Sports Weekly columnist Howard Balzer, ESPN the Magazine columnist Bill Simmons, and actor James Hampton.
We learn a little about the movie’s influences, picking a cast and crew, forming the Crewe character, and some elements of shooting the film. Unfortunately, the featurette lacks much coherency as it bops from one issue to another. The sportswriters appear for no reason other than to praise the movie, and none of the stories from Ruddy, Reynolds or Hampton tell us much. The featurette drags and lacks more than a couple of decent details.
Unleashing the Mean Machine goes for 11 minutes as it presents remarks from Silver, Simmons, Ruddy, Reynolds, Balzer, Hampton, and football players Kassim Osgood, Doug Flutie and Tim Dwight. They discuss shooting in Georgia and at the prison, working with the players, the football sequences, and the remake. “Machine” repeats some information from the commentary, but it stands as much more useful than “Time”. It gets into the shooting of the football pieces well and tosses in tidbits about dirty tactics among other elements. It gives us a decent little look at these scenes.
For a preview of the remake, we head to the three-minute and 37-second Exclusive Look: The Longest Yard (2005). This includes statements from Reynolds, sportscaster Chris Berman, actors Chris Rock, Nelly, Michael Irvin, and Bill Romanowski. If you expect this to be a simple promotional piece, you expect correctly. It’s an advertisement and nothing more.
In addition to the movie’s trailer, the DVD opens with a few ads. We get previews for the 2005 version of The Longest Yard, Coach Carter, MacGyver, and Tommy Boy.
With its intriguing presence, The Longest Yard had a lot of potential to be something special. Despite the best efforts of Burt Reynolds and the rest of the cast, though, the movie never prospers. Some of the worst editing I’ve ever seen mars the storytelling and makes this a fairly incoherent tale. The DVD presents mediocre picture and audio along with some average extras. I like the chummy commentary but none of the other components seem particularly engaging. There’s just nothing here to make either the movie or the DVD stand out from the crowd, so I can’t recommend this lackluster package.