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  Lights, Camera, Action .... Town at the Movies

Escape to Victory (1981)

Not many players can boast to have played alongside Pele and the late Bobby Moore, starred alongside Michael Caine, Max von Sydow and a young Sylvester Stallone, and escaped from the clutches of the Nazi's. Former Town star's John Wark, Russell Osman, Kevin O'Callaghan, Robin Turner and Laurie Sivell can and it all happened in the 1981 John Huston movie, Escape to Victory. Wark and company plus Mike Summerbee (England and Manchester City), Osvaldo Ardiles (Argentina and Spurs) and Kazimierz Deyna (Poland and Manchester City) star in a classic WW2 tale of the Allies versus the Germans.

A group of Nazi officers come up with a propaganda event in which an all-star Nazi football team will play a team composed of Allied Prisoners of War. The Prisoners agree and plan to use the game as a means of escape. Not bad as war movies go, and well worth a watch for the acting debut of Warky and glimpses of the other 1970's and 1980's Ipswich stars, but quite what Laurie Sivell and Robin Turner were doing playing for the Wermacht is anyone's guess.

"'It was great experience" recalls Wark in a recent interview with the Liverpool Matchday Magazine "Bobby Robson asked us if we wanted to do a film. No one seemed that keen, but three or four of us said yes not knowing how big it would be. Suddenly we're with Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine and Pele. Brilliant. We honestly thought we were going over there just to do football scenes, but then they started handing out scripts and we realised we had too act as well".

In the closing scenes Pele scores with an overhead kick to level the scores, and Wark added, "That took one take !".

If you still reminisce over the Robson era or just like a half decent war movie - then get the video or borrow a copy from anyone that taped it when it was re-aired last Tuesday afternoon on BBC One (January 2nd).

Main Credits ...

Michael Caine Captain John Colby
Sylvester Stallone Robert Hatch
Max von Sydow Major Karl von Steiner
Daniel Massey Colonel Waldron
Tim Pigott-Smith Rose
Julian Curry Shurlock
Clive Merrison The Forger
Maurice Roëves Pyrie
Pelé Luis Fernandez
Bobby Moore Terry Brady
John Wark Arthur
Co Prins Pieter Van Beck
Mike Summerbee Sid Harmor
Laurie Sivell Dieter
Robin Turner Schmidt
Osvaldo Ardiles Carlos Rey
Kazimierz Deyna Paul Wolchek
Paul Van Himst Michel Fileu
Soren Lindsted Erik
Russell Osman Doug
Kevin O'Callaghan Tony

Escape to Victory Stills ...

John Wark as Arthur. Click here.

Robin Turner as Schmidt. Click here.

Kevin O'Callaghan as Tony. Click here.

Russell Osman as Doug. Click here.

Many thanks to Timm (at ITFC Video) for the screen-grabs.

Yesterdays Hero (1979)

In the 1978/79 season, Portman Road provided the backdrop for football scenes in the film Yesterdays Hero in which Ian McShane (later of Lovejoy fame) played the part of a veteran player taken on by the pop star chairman of a struggling first division club.

McShane is persuaded to give up the Kebab's and Real Ale and single handedly changes the fortunes of the club so much so that they avoid relegation and win the FA Cup for good measure.

With the screen play by Joan Collins, and roles for the likes of Adam Faith, this had box office flop written all over it. There are very few movies with a Football theme that make it past the laughable stage and this was certainly one of them.

Portman Road was supposedly the venue for an FA Cup Semi-Final. The footage was shot around 2pm before the home league game against Manchester City (31st March 1979) so the ground was not even approaching half capacity and the resulting scenes, with gapping holes on the terracing, were less than convincing to say the least. Although it was rather amusing watching the taunting of the actors, particularly the 'rotund' Mr McShane, by the North Standers.

Rabbit Fever (2006)

"A laugh-free mockumentary on the subject of the rabbit sex-toy vibrator", says The Guardian of another movie using Portman Road as a backdrop. Director Ian Denyer and his crew shot a number of crowd scenes during the Plymouth Argyle home in September 2004, and the soundtrack captures the North Stand signing, albeit reluctantly, "The Referees a Rabbit"!

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