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Let’s Look at a 1969 Movie About the New Orleans Saints

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The classic striping on the Saints’ helmet — and, for much of the team’s history, on their pants — has usually been black-white-black, with the white stripe in the middle. But for the last 12 games of 1968 (the team’s second season), the striping was reversed on both the helmets and the pants, with the black stripe in the center. You can see an example of this in the screen shot shown above, which is from the Saints/Giants game on Oct. 6, 1968.

But here’s the thing: Some players were still wearing the old pants with the white stripe in the center (for the rest of this entry, when I refer to a black or white stripe, you can assume I’m referring to the center stripe). For example, here’s a shot from that same game, and you can see that while most of the players’ pants have the black stripe, No. 42’s pants at the top of the frame have the white stripe:

This inconsistency was common for the ’68 Saints. In each of these next photos, the helmet stripes are black but the pants stripes are a mix of black and white:

None of this is new information. I’ve written about it before, and so have others.

But here’s something new, at least to me: There was a 1969 Hollywood movie — starring Charlton Heston, no less! — that preserved the Saints’ striping inconsistencies in cinematic grandeur.

Here’s the deal: In 1969, Heston starred in a movie called Number One, in which he played Cat Catlan, an aging Saints quarterback chasing faded glory on and off the field. I’d never heard of this movie until Uni Watch reader Brad Eenhuis recently brought it to my attention. The trailer is hilariously cheesy and definitely worth watching:

As you may noticed while watching the trailer, the helmet and pants stripes are wildly inconsistent. Here are some screen shots:

Helmets black, pants white.
Helmets black, pants black.
Helmet white, most pants white, one pair of pants black.
Helmets black, pants white.

And here’s a press photo I found, showing Heston with a black-striped helmet and his center with a white-striped helmet:

So the movie apparently captured the Saints’ striping inconsistencies quite accurately!

The movie’s Wikipedia entry has some interesting additional info:

The National Football League permitted the New Orleans Saints’ name and jerseys to be used as opposed to many football films featuring professional teams with fictional names. However, this led to historical inaccuracies in the film, particularly in flashbacks of Catlan’s career. One flashback scene shows Catlan’s first game as a rookie for the Saints in what would’ve been the early 1950s; however, the Saints were founded in 1966 and began play the following season. Another flashback shows Catlan and the team celebrating a championship victory; however, the Saints did not win a championship at any point before the film was shot (or indeed, for several decades afterwards, their first title coming in 2010 at Super Bowl XLIV, nearly 50 years after the film was made).


Despite having All-Pro signal-caller Billy Kilmer as an instructor, Charlton Heston did not make a very convincing pro quarterback. “I marveled at how skinny he was in a Saints uniform,” said local DJ Bob Walker, who was an extra in the movie. “It hung on him like a cheap suit three sizes too big. When the cameras weren’t rolling we watched him try to throw some passes. His receiver was 10-20 yards away and his alleged passes didn’t come close.” Joe Wendryhoski, who basically played himself in the film as the Saints center, called Heston “a great guy, very sociable” who unfortunately “didn’t have an athletic bone in his body. As a quarterback, he left a lot to be desired.”

In the final scene when Catlan is crushed by the Dallas defense (portrayed by Saints players Mike Tilleman, Dave Rowe, and Fred Whittingham), neither Heston nor the producer felt the hit on him was realistic enough, so Heston asked them to cut loose to really make it look authentic. On the second take, the trio slammed the actor to the ground, breaking three of his ribs.

If you find all of that intriguing, the movie is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

(Big thanks to Brad Eenhuis for bringing this movie to my attention.)



Can of the Day

Most of us are familiar with the Diamond Nuts brand, but I didn’t know there was once an Emerald Nuts. Nuts are indeed precious gems, so it makes a certain kind of sense.

Comments (40)

    There was an NFL Films documentary that mentioned this movie
    Apparently, the climax was inspired in part by the famous photo of a broken, bleeding Y.A. Tittle

    The black-white-black striping looks so much nicer. I really, really, really, dislike when a white stripe is set against a color lacking the necessary contrast (gold, yellow, Rams’ crappy dishwater, etc). It seems like an obvious no-no, even to my untrained eye. How do professional designers roll with it?

    So I looked up Emerald Walnuts, because I have a vague memory of them sponsoring one of the “ Bowl” games in the 2000s. It turns out, Emerald Walnuts is a subsidiary of Diamond Walnuts.

    “chasing faeded glory”

    Is it supposed to be “faded”?

    Googlig “faeded” brings up something else

    Growing up in Central California, my grandfather farmed walnuts. I remember seeing trucks with the Emerald logo at harvest when I was younger, which were replaced by blue diamonds later.

    The younger folks would only know her work from “Arrested Development” and “Archer.”

    Jessica had an impressive résumé as a movie/TV actor.

    Today is the 59th anniversary of the Browns last championship.

    I will toast a Great Lakes Brewing Company Christmas Ale to their memory.

    As someone who is now gluten-free,

    A) I miss beer.

    B) I miss ordering a case of Great Lakes Brewing’s Christmas Ale.

    (Case Western alum.)

    Now that the Giants have been back to white pants at home consistently, I’d love to see them go with that simple red stripe again.

    The Dave Boss painted Saints poster shows up briefly during the clip (at the 1:40 mark) which, of course, I had on my wall as a kid.

    Do you think it was quite possible they just borrowed the Saints’ existing unis for this movie? Thus the inconsistencies would be expected.

    One more thing. When he’s getting crushed at the end of the trailer, the Dallas jersey stripes go from 2-stripe to 3-stripe (close up from below) in the same sequence.

    Wonder why Catlan’s jersey was lacking stripes.

    I’d venture most of the action scenes in the movie were from an actual Cowboys/Saints game (hence preserving the Saints stripe anomalies); I’ve further guess the movie may have even been shot during an actual game, during breaks in the action where Heston’s character was the only “non” footballer present.

    Love to find out more. Great find Paul (and Brad)!

    Stripes all over the place. Yet somehow, five-plus decades ago, the Saints were able to match the helmet color to the pants. Cowboys pretty much too (Sigh …)

    For the record, let’s note an excellent example of what the Cowboys uniform could be — helmet color matching that of the pants, the “Western-style” numbers now worn by the Colts, and a very nice color set of royal blue-steel blue.

    The worst sports movie I ever saw for inconsistencies was The Fan with Robert DeNiro. In that movie, batters would hit a ball in one uniform and run in a different one…hit a ball in one stadium and it would be caught in another.


    More on that Heston movie (which I knew existed, but had never seen the trailer for):

    Heston was actually FORTY-FIVE when that was shot.
    Guessing they gave Cat #17 to make it easier to splice in actual game footage when needed, as Billy Kilmer (#17) was the Saints’ starter in 1968.
    Newspaper stories at the time say the film’s original title was “Pro,” and that Heston’s rib injury was a hairline fracture of one rib that happened when he was hit in rehearsal.

    I remember seeing that movie on TV as a kid in the 1970s. Even then, I figured that they picked the Saints because they were terrible back then and were probably the only team willing to do the movie. Unfortunately, I didn’t pick up on the uni inconsistencies.

    An additional interesting note about the movie…

    The owner of the Saints at the time (John Mecom, Jr.) had a small speaking part as the Saints’ 3rd string quarterback. You can see him throwing a football in the locker room, and speaking to the 2nd string QB in one scene, telling him to “quit your bitching”.

    Mecom was only TWENTY- SIX (26) when he was selected as owner for the franchise in 1966. In the early days of the Saints (and when the movie was filmed) he was younger than a lot of his players.

    Mecom also insisted on working out with the players early in his tenure—his playing the on-screen 3rd stringer doesn’t surprise me. He was a character, though a terrible owner. It’s not a surprise the Saints finally had some on-field success only a couple seasons after Tom Benson bought the team in 1985.

    Indeed a virtual parody of a trailer. And Heston looks very awkward in football action. But seeing the Saints in gold helmets and gold pants (in whatever striping pattern) is a treat, as is the sighting of Al Hirt playing his trumpet in the trailer.

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