Friday Flashback #190

By now, you’ve probably binge-watched every television series you ever thought about watching. Plus many you never would have thought of, unless there’s a stay-at-home-in-a-pandemic order.

You’ve probably also watched every movie you ever wanted to see. Plus all those everyone told you you should see, even if their taste in movies sucks.

You can’t watch sports on TV, even if you hate sports, because the only live events are dart championships and soccer in Belarus. (I’m not kidding.)

But wait! There’s another entertainment option! 

Sure, Manny’s Orphans was filmed in 1978. Yeah, it’s a “Bad News Bears” ripoff: A team of misfit orphans plays an elite prep school in soccer. (Spoiler alert: The orphans win.)

Yet there are many compelling reasons to pop this one in the ol’ VCR (or click below).

  • It was directed by Westport’s own Sean Cunningham (just before he got his big breaks with “Friday the 13th” and “Spring Break”).
  • It starred many local kids, as both orphans and Creighton Hall prep school snobs.
  • It was filmed almost entirely in Westport and Bridgeport (you don’t think the orphans lived here, do you?). One of the best scenes involved a massive food fight in the posh, wood-paneled Greens Farms Academy library.
  • Yours truly was deeply involved. I recruited many of the actors. I choreographed all the soccer scenes. I even played the referee (and have an IMDb page to show for it).

Yeah, that’s me. Go ahead, laugh. As referees, we’re used to it.

Westport loved it. There was a world premiere at the Fine Arts Theater. Junior high girls shrieked when their classmates appeared on the big screen, wearing only their underwear.

No, “Manny’s Orphans” did not sweep the Oscars. (To the best of my knowledge, not even the referee was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.)

The Creighton Hall snobs.

Yes, it went from the Fine Arts almost immediately to airplane distribution, bypassing most theaters entirely.

What a movie!

But still, it’s ours. If you don’t have anything to do tonight — and sorry, but you know you don’t — why not gather around the TV or laptop, and watch The Greatest Soccer Movie Ever Made.

Or at least the few clips available on YouTube.


And when you’re finished with that, check out Sean Cunningham’s other Bad News Bears ripoff, also filmed in Westport with local talent: “Here Come the Tigers.”

You can find it, at least, on Amazon Prime.

(Hat tip: Russell Sherman)

7 responses to “Friday Flashback #190

  1. Thank you for sharing Dan Woog!
    –Lewis Baden (Staples ’91)

  2. The Porio brothers were walk-ons at different times. They shared the same blazer. I thought of it like a summer camp – they were gone all day! Each were paid a silver dollar!! Great memories.

  3. Mary Schmerker

    Is it possible that Sean Cunningham went to Staples and then transferred to a private school? The name sounds very familiar. I just looked in the 1957 and 1958 year books but did not find him.

  4. Great clips Dan watched all thanks for the diversion!!

  5. Susan Hopkins

    Dan Woog: Entertainment Central

    You’re the Best – Thank you!

  6. Patrck Laffaye

    I remember getting paid $5 for spending an entire day in Bridgeport “acting” as a soccer player extra! Even though I played a small part, having just 4 seconds of screentime, I managed to obtain and still possess the extensive marketing brochure complete with lots of photos. I also recall that HBO, yes that network when first launched, did show this movie a couple of times albeit at 2 or 3 in the morning!

    • Great to hear from you Patrick. And you’re exactly right about the HBO showings. Kids would come up to me at Staples and say, “I saw your movie at like 3 in the morning today.” I never asked why or how…