Miller wrote That Championship Season as an unemployed actor then turned down a multi-picture contract with Warner Bros. after his success as an actor in The Exorcist to continue writing, but he never got lucky again. It’s surprising he got lucky at all.
That Championship Season is overwrought, melodramatic stuff in which the members of a college basketball team reunite with their coach (Mitchum) years later to relive past glories and open old wounds. The coach, the supposed voice of wisdom in this gang of overgrown children, tries to calm the troubled waters and teach them valuable lessons about life, but he seems no wiser than they are. If he was the sage they think he is, why would he be as lost in the past as they are?
Miller directed this stagebound film version, and the stage is as drab as the characters. It’s set in the coach’s dreary house with wallpaper the color of chewing tobacco. Earth tones are comforting. They can also be dull.
Brian W. Fairbanks
© 2009 Brian W. Fairbanks