Once In A Lifetime dir. by ,

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  • Pelé
  • Franz Beckenbauer
  • Giorgio Chinaglia
  • Carlos Alberto
  • Rodney Marsh
  • In the late 70’s and early 80’s there was an attempt made to launch football in the United States of America. Ultimately, it failed, but for a few years the New York Cosmos, a team owned by Warner, fielded some of the world’s greatest football players including Pelé and Franz Beckenbauer. And for a brief few years it seemed as though football really would take hold in the US.

    This documentary traces the rise and fall of the New York Cosmos, as they started out life playing on terrible pitches. When Pelé first made his appearance the mud on the pitch was painted green so it would look good on the telly. In a few years they would be selling out Giant Stadium and be watched by tens of thousands of people. But this was a team that had no real development plan. It was entirely dependent on the money from Warner to keep it afloat. Pelé was offered around 4 million to play in America, much, much more than the major baseball players of the time. And when the money ran out, so too did the good times.

    If you are a football fan then this is a film worth watching, if only to see those clips of Pelé and his teammates. But it is also interesting as a look at how money really can’t buy success. More and more money was pushed on the team, buying in famous names and players from across the globe. Many football stars using the American league as a handy way to earn some cash in their final years of the sport. But there didn’t seem to be any money spent on developing the sport at grass roots level. Maybe it simply wasn’t mentioned in this film though, as it focused so much on the New York Cosmos and their few years of glory.

    Overall this is a very entertaining and enjoyable documentary. Plenty of laughs provided by the Italian who spoke English with a Welsh accent Giorgio Chinaglia, who comes across as a person you really don’t want to know.

    Obviously made for the home market of America, all the players are careful to call football soccer, and correct themsleves whenever they slip up. The narration is also a little annoying, as it is slightly “movie-trailer-ish”. And the cutting/editing style while obviously chosen to create a 70’s atmosphere was over the top and intrusive. Still worth watching though.
    The biggest laugh of the film came at the end, when a sentence designed to show how US football has grown flashed up on screen, informing us all that the US team is now ranked 8th in the FIFA rankings. I’m sure that is true, but the dogs on the street know how unreliable those rankings are. Does anyone think that the US are really the 8th best soccer team in the world? I doubt it.

    IMDb | New York Cosmos | Talking Pish | Tribeca | Scotsman

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