:The Blackest of Times for the Blue & White”
It was the premiere night for the showing of the HBO-movie “Paterno”, with the great character actor Al Pacino in the role of the deceased Penn State football coach.
The movie was supposed to be about the final weeks, the final month of Paterno. It missed its mark, because if was more about Paterno’s family, constantly in fight mode, and a legendary University that was interested more in protecting its brand, than protection of injured children, violated sexually by Paterno’s long time assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
Pacino, who gave us brilliant performances in Taxi Driver, Serpico and the Godfather, gives us the perfect examination of the sad person that Paterno was becoming in his 80s.
It was a great acting job, and it was sad from start to finish.
“I have a game to prepare for against Nebraska”. Time and time again, those were the sentiments as the sexual assault stories broke, the indictments were handed down, the media crush and student protests erupted.
Paterno comes away looking as a feeble old man, unwilling to read the documents given to him, refusing to get in the middle of the fight his family was building as his defense, unable to understand what his assistant Mike McQueary had told him happened in a shower between an 11-year old and his longtime assistant coach.
Always a believer in hierarchy, Pacino parlays Paterno’s mannerisms, his voice inflection and his personality, as he told his AD and Director of Security what McQueary told him. Passed it up and the chain of command, and then went on to prepare for the next game, as he always had.
Let it be about football with him, and nothing else. Others can deal with the non football issues, including this scandal.
There is great confusion in when Paterno found out about incidents, what Paterno understood about things like sodomy, and about his responsibility should he go to the police.
His wife was portrayed as defensive. His son Scott, a lawyer, was the only reasonable one to ask about responsibility. The football coaching son, Jay, was at war with everyone all the time.
University leadership was portrayed as all about coverups, excuses, and avoidance of reality. They wound up losing their job, and wound up in prison.
There is little portraying of McQueary, who wound up winning an 11.9-M judgements in a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit case. Oddly, he wound up portraying himself a victim of all things-Sandusky, and sadly, the kids, who were abused, wound up getting 2.6M apiece in damages from the University.
So you will have to tell me who was more damaged by all this, the coach who went public, or the kids who were victims from 1976 to 2002?
The movie showed the outrage in the community of State College. Those who loved all things Pacino-Paterno did for the University. And there was rage for how the most powerful man in the university, many say Paterno, should have done more. And there was the war zone involving a probing media, which won a Pulitzer Prize for its dogged determination to sort out the seedy truth.
Sandusky will die in prison as part of this 30-to-60 year sentence. Few of the coaches on that staff resurfaced in other jobs. Paterno sadly died two and a half months after his firing of lung cancer, something else he never knew about, nor paid attention too..
The movie starts in a hospital room adorned in Blue & White, Penn State’s colors. It ends with the tearing down of the Paterno statue infront of a shadowy Beaver Stadium.
A dark story about a man who knew only one thing in life, prepare for the next game.
Nightfall brought darkness to the stadium on the final scene. The screen faded to black, much like Paterno’s career, then his life.
Pachino was solid. The story was sordid. You emerge feeling sad for everyone involved.
It’s worth seeing, just be prepared to feel like you are taking part in a never-ending funeral.
‘Paterno’, the movie…the Blackest of times for the Blue & White.