One on One (1977)

One on One (1977)

“They’re trying to take my athletics scholarship away from me — the bastards!”

After winning a full scholarship to a university in Los Angeles, high school basketball star Henry Steele (Robby Benson) finds himself struggling to succeed.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Basketball
  • College
  • Corruption
  • Coming-of-Age
  • Robby Benson Films
  • Underdogs

Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book, this Robby Benson vehicle (he also co-wrote the script) offers all the standard cliches of every sports flick you’ve ever seen: an underdog who desperately wants to make it big struggles valiantly to succeed before scoring major points in the final “big game” (whoops! I gave it away). Yet it’s also a bravely cynical look at the corruption so rampant in the world of college sports: Henry is offered an all-expenses-paid scholarship (despite his limited academic abilities), a car, a tutor to help him pass his classes, a well-paying sinecure, and two free passes to each home game (which he’s able to sell for a whopping $300 each). Yet as soon as the tables turn — and the powers-that-be decide he’s no longer worthy star material — he finds himself fighting against the very forces which once buoyed his success. There are no surprises in One on One (again, my apologies for giving the ending away!), but getting to the final triumphant scene of this movie seems to be the whole point of its narrative journey.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Robby Benson’s sincere performance as Henry
  • A scathing glimpse at corruption in the NCAA
  • Melanie Griffith in a small role as the duplicitous hitchhiker Benson picks up in L.A.

Must See?
No. While this is an enjoyable little sleeper, it’s only must-see viewing for hardcore Robby Benson fans.


One thought on “One on One (1977)

  1. First viewing – not must-see; agreed, strictly for Benson fans.

    The film comes off as a calculated response to the previous year’s ‘Rocky’ (and perhaps a chance to cash-in on that film’s Oscar-winning glory): underdog overcomes the odds and all that.

    It’s now, more or less, a forgotten film. Admittedly, it’s mildly interesting (although that musical soundtrack is a bit much, as is the somewhat-sappy love angle) – but, as the film reaches its conclusion, it’s oddly chaotic as it quickly wraps up its bullet points.

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