There are 44 listings on Google for the phrase “magic of NFL Films,” which has been uttered in countless conversations among those in NFL circles for four decades. Never was it more apt than here, when NFL Films somehow turns a miscue-marred contest commonly referred to as the “Blunder Bowl” into an elegant, gallant struggle reminscent of the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
A gorgeous South Florida day helped, as the film effectively incorporates the dropping sun and lengthening shadows throughout — although it creates some chronological manipulation as it is easy to discern when a late-game play was used during a first-half sequence. The music helps, as well, using pieces that would be sampled for other highlight films — a Dallas fumble is accompanied by a piace used in the Super Bowl VII film, and second-half montage has the same music cue as a second-quarter Terry Bradshaw fumble in the Super Bowl XIII film, as well as an early-game sequence in the Super Bowl VI film.
But the soundtrack takes a strange detour about one-third of the way into the film to accompany Johnny Unitas’ touchdown pass to John Mackey, a piece never heard before or since in a Super Bowl highlight film, and best described by a conversation between George Costanza and his one-episode (The Cigar Store Indian) girlfriend Sylvia:
Sylvia: “What’s this we’re listening to?”
George: “The Ray Conniff Singers.”
FINEST MOMENT: One of my favorite openings, a four-minute, one-second segment that stars a tart-tongued ticket-booth sentry who tells a spurned and obviously peeved will-call visitor to “take a blimp ride” after his indignant response to her assertion that there were no tickets in his name.
The lady’s name? Ella Mae Weatherwax, or “Mrs. Weatherwax,” as she emphasizes. I’m putting her name in here because I Googled this name during last year’s Super Bowl week and retrieved no mentions. So congratulations, Ella Mae — or Ella May, or should I say, Mrs. Weatherwax — you’re on the Internet.
BEST NARRATION: “Once in a great while the clouds of chance will overshadow the plans of man.”
The soundtrack, aside from the Conniff-esque detour, is perfect. It is not only of its time, but laced with classic NFL Films riffs still used to this day. And presenting a hard-hitting but error-filled game as a masterpiece is an accomplishment indeed. This is one that always causes my ceaseless clicking around the digital-cable galaxy to pause. The shots depicting the Cowboys’ game-ending despair are also classics — and just where and when did Bob Lilly’s helmet finally come down?