About 8 years ago, I commented on the Onion’s A.V. Club post about NFL Films Super Bowl movies. The A.V. Club link is long gone, but what I wrote is still up.
One night last week, I stayed up and watched what I think is the best Super Bowl highlight film ever, Battle of Champions from Super Bowl XIII, a Pittsburgh Steelers 35-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. That Super Bowl decided who would be the team of the ’70s and had every thing great about NFL Films – distinctive cinematography, editing, music, local radio broadcasts clips and of course John Facenda, the “voice of God” narrating some strong writing. It was also partially played during the day and both teams had classic uniforms and played in the natural grass Orange Bowl
My belief is that NFL Films Super Bowl films peaked there for a variety of reasons. The most specific was Facenda’s death after Super Bowl XVIII, but also other things. The music wasn’t as epic as it was in the 1970s. Sam Spence rightly gets credited for creating the quintessential NFL Films music, but for a brief period, a number of British pieces from KPM music and de Wolfe served as the bulk of the soundtrack. It was funkier, blacksploitation-like in sound, but fit perfectly with the fast editing and colorful personalities of its time. Much of it can be found in this youtube playlist:
Another reason for the peak of these Super Bowl videos were some great dynasties, but also the games primarily being played during the day. Now, the only way to see any sunlight in a Super Bowl is if it is played in California. It’s been 20 years since the Rose Bowl hosted a Super Bowl by the way or L.A. even had a team for that matter. I don’t think Southern California is going to host a Super Bowl until some new stadiums get built. It seems like every other game is played indoors, though I like that this year’s game is being played in New Jersey in cold weather. Too bad it won’t snow.
For the moment at least, several Super Bowl films are on youtube. I’m sure they’ll be pulled down sometime soon, so watch them now.
SUPER BOWL X
Pittsburgh Steelers 21 Dallas Cowboys 17
This is a contender for top NFL Films Super Bowl movie. It’s almost 22 minutes of action, briskly edited and classic writing for Facenda. It also helps that the game went down the final play, a Hail Mary that was intercepted.
SUPER BOWL XI
Oakland Raiders 32 Minnesota Vikings 14
The next year was the last Super Bowl played entirely in daylight and the first at the Rose Bowl. It wasn’t much of a game, but it looked really pretty and had the classic shot of Willie Brown’s pick six with Bill King’s “Old Man Willie” play-by-play over it.
There are others available, but these are two of the best.
Oh and here’s one of the last great Facenda clips too which I’ll just call “70 chip”
More about that clip, from 2013: John Riggins, Redskins won their first Super Bowl 30 years ago today
I may update this as more videos become available.
Parting shot — NFL Films are about the only 1970s genre of film-making Quentin Tarantino hasn’t paid homage to, isn’t it?