Adapted from Dan Jenkins book of the same name, the 1977 film Semi-Tough is best seen as a product of its era. Michael Ritchie had successfully directed two sports-themed films in the past; Downhill Racer and The Bad News Bears. Scripted by Walter Bernstein, Semi-Tough has a decidedly different tone. The story follows the misadventures of Billy Clyde Puckett (Burt Reynolds) and Marvin “Shake” Tiller (Kris Kristofferson) friends and football teammates who play on a fictitious Miami based team. The two buddies have room Ed together for years. The third roommate, Barbara Jane Bookman (Jill Clayburgh) is the daughter of the team’s owner “Big” Ed Bookman (Robert Preston). The relationship between the trio has always been platonic. (Hint, that’s not going to last long.)
Football soon takes a backseat to the men and their relationships. Much of the story takes place at a B.E.A.T. training session (a parody of the EST training, popular at the time), presided over by a surprisingly intense Burt Convy (The Cannonball Run). Shake has a newfound confidence from the program. Soon, Shake and Barbara Jean plan to marry. However, when she tries the B.E.A.T. program, it goes badly. Barbara Jean worries that Shake will change his mind about marrying her. Meanwhile, Bobby Clyde harbors feelings for too, and is looking for the right time to tell her about it.
Reynolds and his ‘good old boy’ southern charms really shine here. Both he and Kristofferson played college football, but that’s just an interesting fact rather than anything that helps makes the film appealing. Instead, it’s Burt’s (and to a lesser degree Kris’s) ability to laugh at himself. Even the most emotional moment ends on a comedic beat. Several sportscasters and former football players appear in the film in character or as themselves, including Dick Schapp, Joe Kapp, and Carl Weathers.
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Kino Lorber’s 1080 transfer from a brand new 2K master represents a definite upgrade from the previous DVD release. While colors don’t have the pop you would expect from a recent release, there noticeably fuller than a DVD allows. The image is Solid, with only a few smudges of dirt in evidence. Fans should be pleased with the condition of this catalog title.
The DTS Master Audio 2.0 track handles the material well. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout. Jerry Fielding’s score never interferes with onscreen activities, or vice versa. The mix is simplistic but satisfying.
English SDH subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Image Gallery: A collection of vintage production and promotional materials.
- Theatrical Trailer
Movie title: Semi-Tough
Duration: 108 min
Director(s): Michael Ritchie
Actor(s): Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson , Jill Clayburgh , Robert Preston , Bert Convy , Roger E. Mosley
Genre: Comedy, Sport, Romance, Drama