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A Jewish basketball coach discovers a group of black men playing great basketball in Harlem and turns them into the famous Harlem Globetrotters.
With the help of an old, temperamental car, basketball zealot Abe Saperstein and his all-black team, the Harlem Globetrotters, adhere to a rigid schedule of traveling, signing autographs, making appearances and playing first-rate basketball against second-rate teams. They play in barns, community centers and high school gyms. Abe coaches the team and fills in as a substitute player, but he and loyal team members such as Inman Jackson are always searching for new talent. One such newcomer is Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, who joins the Globetrotters when one of the players is forced to retire. By the end of the early season, each man has earned only about $650. Back home in Chicago, Inman shares a meal with Abe's Jewish family and remarks that he soon plans to marry his sweetheart Irma. Hearing this, Abe's mother complains that her son's grueling road schedule prevents what she so dearly wants for him, a home and a wife. Abe, however, wants to discuss his hope of convincing promoter Jack Willoughby, "Mr. Professional Basketball," to help the talented Globetrotters attain big-league status. Soon afterward, Abe is disappointed when Willoughby instead offers him a job coaching another team. Declaring that the Harlem Globetrotters possess the best players in basketball, Abe promises Willoughby that his team "will show you how the game is played." Forced to continue their barnstorming, the players travel to Dubuque, where Abe befriends sports writer Zack Leader. He also adds a new player to the roster, Reece "Goose" Tatum, whose quick and intricate maneuvers impress not only his teammates, but also the spectators. By the end of the next season, the earnings per player have doubled. When Abe reports that Willoughby still refuses to support the team, Inman, now a husband and father, remarks, "We both know what the big hurdle is." The next season, the team, now equipped with a trailer, travels to Kenosha, where Abe falls in love with beauty contestant and ticket seller Sylvia Franklin. On the second day of their acquaintance, Abe proposes, adding, "Think about it. We have till five o'clock." After the two are married in a Jewish ceremony, the team continues its tour, and Sylvia, with the help of Abe's family, sets up an apartment in Chicago. Following Abe's arrival back home, Sylvia realizes the depth of her husband's love of basketball as he animatedly discusses the beauty and poetry of sports. During the next season's games, played before larger audiences, the Globetrotters begin to falter because of fatigue and injury. Abe suggests that each player should show off his own special "razzle-dazzle" for several moments during a game, thereby allowing the others to rest. Goose adds humor to his routine, and the rest of the players follow suit. As a result, the crowd goes wild, and the Globetrotters win. Now based in a small office, with Sylvia as his secretary, Abe proposes that Zack's newspaper sponsor a basketball tournament for any qualifying professional team. He then meets with Willoughby, who offers him a job as Detroit's head coach and adds that the Globetrotters will never be accepted into the big league. Angry, Abe reminds Willoughby that the crowds love the Globetrotters, but later, the big arenas that had booked the team begin to cancel their appearances. Zack informs Abe that Willoughby secured the cancellations by describing the Globetrotters as a clown act, not a professional basketball team. When Abe learns that the team's application to play in the big tournament has been rejected, he loses hope and decides to quit the game. Inman warns Abe that without the faith he inspires, the team will fall apart, and Sylvia hints that by abandoning a life that makes him "crazy happy," Abe risks his identity as well as their marriage. Abe sells the team's bus and disappears, wiring only that he is in Detroit. Fearing that he has abandoned his principles to accept the Detroit job, Sylvia packs her bags and is about to return to Wisconsin when an agitated Zack, Inman and Pop Saperstein arrive at the apartment. Abe has wired Pop for money and seems to have borrowed against all their possessions. As the four argue, Abe appears and cheerfully announces that he has paid to schedule the Globetrotters into the biggest stadiums in the country, their games timed to compete with the big-league games. Afraid that the Globetrotters will steal big-league audiences, Willoughby allows the team to compete in the tournament but pits them, in their first game, against the powerful Washington Generals. Willoughby is astounded when the Globetrotters win, and later, he is even more surprised to find them playing in the championship game against the Chicago Majors. With Clifton and Tatum injured, the Globetrotters resort to a bit of clowning in order to give the other players needed rest, and in the final seconds, the team wins the game by a single point. Bursting with pride, Abe remarks that the success of the Harlem Globetrotters is only beginning.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||World premiere in Manila, Philippines: 22 Dec 1953; Los Angeles opening: 20 Jan 1954|
|Release Date:||1954||Production Date:||
FGA 4388--FGA 4396; addl research by AD
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||United Artists Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Sirod Productions, Inc.|
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Go Man Go
Ronald S. Ivkovich 2012-10-04
Super basketball movie about the history of black athletes and their beginnings in professional basketball. The movie is interesting, dramatic, and...
Go For "Go, Man, Go"
Jim Nagourney 2006-03-06
One of the wonderful, overlooked sports flix.Just look up the excellent review from the NY Times tough critic, Bosley Crowther, from 1954. Deserves to be...