The Games (film)

The Games is a 1970 British sports drama film directed by Michael Winner. It is based on the Hugh Atkinson novel and adapted to the screen by Erich Segal. The plot concerned four marathon competitors at a fictitious Olympic Games in Rome, played by Michael Crawford, Ryan O'Neal, Charles Aznavour and Athol Compton. Elton John recorded one song ('From Denver To L.A.') for the soundtrack.

The Games
Promotional poster
Directed byMichael Winner
Produced byLester Linsk
Written byErich Segal
StarringMichael Crawford
Ryan O'Neal
Charles Aznavour
Jeremy Kemp
Elaine Taylor
Music byFrancis Lai
CinematographyRobert Paynter
Edited byBernard Gribble
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
April 1970 (US-Canada)[1]
9 July 1970 (London)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom



Athol Compton was an Aboriginal Australian postman who had never acted before being cast in the film.[3]

To simulate vast crowds of people, thousands of life-sized dummies were placed in the stadium's seats in Rome Olympic stadium.


According to Fox records the film required $7,500,000 in rentals to break even and by 11 December 1970 had made $2,825,000, meaning a loss to the studio.[4]

Howard Thompson of The New York Times declared that "this beautifully scenic and perceptive drama, centering on four marathon contestants at the Rome Olympiad, is a nice antidote for the hot weather. The real star of the picture is Michael Winner, who has directed some previous British exercises with brisk adroitness and stamps this unstartling but engrossing eyeful with the same visual appeal."[5] Arthur D. Murphy of Variety opined that "with the outdated polemics of director Michael Winner, the banalities of Erich Segal's adaptation of a Hugh Atkinson novel, and a rather lifeless and cardboard cast, the 20th-Fox release amounts to a dull Frank Merriwell yarn, hyped a bit to the level of high-school mentality."[6] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film one-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "If Erich Segal's screenplay had its tongue in its cheek, the four stories could be dismissed as comedy of stereotypes."[7] Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "what strikes you about 'The Games' is what is such beautiful scenery doing in a dumb script like this?" He elaborated that the screenplay contained "almost every cliche known to sports."[8] The Monthly Film Bulletin commented, "A cliché-ridden script with much high-flown dialogue and the kind of flashy shooting one has come to expect from Michael Winner (all staccato cutting and ugly zooms) make it difficult to work up much interest in the fate of the four protagonists of The Games."[9]


  1. "'The Games' Has Openings Across U.S. and Canada". BoxOffice. May 4, 1970. 9.
  2. Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p256
  3. Carr, Valerie (1969-01-15). ""Postie" Wins Star Part in Film". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. p. 5. Retrieved 2012-05-19.
  4. Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away : the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 329.
  5. Thompson, Howard (August 8, 1970). "'The Games' Brings Four Marathon Runners Into Sharp Focus". The New York Times. 13.
  6. Murphy, Arthur D. (April 8, 1970). "Film Reviews: The Games". Variety. 16.
  7. Siskel, Gene (May 13, 1970). "The Games". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 5.
  8. Champlin, Charles (May 15, 1970). "Olympic Setting Featured in 'Games'". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 12.
  9. "The Games". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 37 (439): 166. August 1970.
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