By Harv Aronson
One of my favorite sports movies of all time is “All the Right Moves,” a football movie that debuted 35 years ago in 1983 and starred Tom Cruise, Craig T. Nelson, and Lea Thompson among others.
If you haven’t seen the movie but are from Western Pennsylvania, you must watch this film. It portrays just what life is like for football fans from that area. High school football is huge all over this country but from some, it is believe that the area of Western PA and surrounding cities and states is a breeding ground for future pro football players. Need examples? These are just the quarterbacks:
I could spend all day listing more players at different positions buy I think you get the idea. So in All the Right Moves, the plot follows the small Western PA’s diehard loyalty to their local high school football team coached by Craig T. Nelson who’s character is coach Burt Nickerson. Tom Cruise is in the lead role as Stefan Djordjevic and his girlfriend in the movie is Lisa Lietzke portrayed by Lea Thompson. “Ampipe” is the fictional high school for which Cruise’s team plays for and the film culminates with a game against rival school Walnut Heights in which Vinnie Salvucci played by Paul Carafotes fumbles the ball away to Walnut Heights as his team held the lead.
Coach Nickerson tears down both Salvucci and Djordjevic in the locker room after the game which results in Cruise’s character being thrown off the team leading to further critical story lines. Interesting fact about the movie is that former New York Jets quarterback Walter Briggs plays the part of Ampipe’s starting quarterback “Rifleman.” I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Briggs a few years back during a fund raiser. He’s a very nice guy and has his own cigar company.
For the record, the movie was shot in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and the school scenes took place at Johnstown High School which is now closed. The football action was filmed inside Point Stadium in that town. Much was made about the “Friday Night Lights” also about high school and that film turned into a television series. But All the Right Movies rivals Friday Night Lights for being one of th best high school football movies ever.
If you want a feel for what it’s like in a small town that loves their high school football, find a way to see this one. You will watch it and want to see it again...and again...and possibly a third time.