Go Man Go


1h 22m 1954

Brief Synopsis

A Jewish basketball coach discovers a group of black men playing great basketball in Harlem and turns them into the famous Harlem Globetrotters.

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 22, 1954
Premiere Information
World premiere in Manila, Philippines: 22 Dec 1953; Los Angeles opening: 20 Jan 1954
Production Company
Sirod Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Bergenfield, New Jersey, United States; Boston, Massachusetts, United States; New York City, New York, United States; New York City--Madison Square Garden, New York, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
7,470ft (9 reels)

Synopsis

With the help of an old, temperamental car, basketball zealot Abe Saperstein and his all-black team, the Harlem Globetrotters, adhere to a rigid schedule of traveling, signing autographs, making appearances and playing first-rate basketball against second-rate teams. They play in barns, community centers and high school gyms. Abe coaches the team and fills in as a substitute player, but he and loyal team members such as Inman Jackson are always searching for new talent. One such newcomer is Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, who joins the Globetrotters when one of the players is forced to retire. By the end of the early season, each man has earned only about $650. Back home in Chicago, Inman shares a meal with Abe's Jewish family and remarks that he soon plans to marry his sweetheart Irma. Hearing this, Abe's mother complains that her son's grueling road schedule prevents what she so dearly wants for him, a home and a wife. Abe, however, wants to discuss his hope of convincing promoter Jack Willoughby, "Mr. Professional Basketball," to help the talented Globetrotters attain big-league status. Soon afterward, Abe is disappointed when Willoughby instead offers him a job coaching another team. Declaring that the Harlem Globetrotters possess the best players in basketball, Abe promises Willoughby that his team "will show you how the game is played." Forced to continue their barnstorming, the players travel to Dubuque, where Abe befriends sports writer Zack Leader. He also adds a new player to the roster, Reece "Goose" Tatum, whose quick and intricate maneuvers impress not only his teammates, but also the spectators. By the end of the next season, the earnings per player have doubled. When Abe reports that Willoughby still refuses to support the team, Inman, now a husband and father, remarks, "We both know what the big hurdle is." The next season, the team, now equipped with a trailer, travels to Kenosha, where Abe falls in love with beauty contestant and ticket seller Sylvia Franklin. On the second day of their acquaintance, Abe proposes, adding, "Think about it. We have till five o'clock." After the two are married in a Jewish ceremony, the team continues its tour, and Sylvia, with the help of Abe's family, sets up an apartment in Chicago. Following Abe's arrival back home, Sylvia realizes the depth of her husband's love of basketball as he animatedly discusses the beauty and poetry of sports. During the next season's games, played before larger audiences, the Globetrotters begin to falter because of fatigue and injury. Abe suggests that each player should show off his own special "razzle-dazzle" for several moments during a game, thereby allowing the others to rest. Goose adds humor to his routine, and the rest of the players follow suit. As a result, the crowd goes wild, and the Globetrotters win. Now based in a small office, with Sylvia as his secretary, Abe proposes that Zack's newspaper sponsor a basketball tournament for any qualifying professional team. He then meets with Willoughby, who offers him a job as Detroit's head coach and adds that the Globetrotters will never be accepted into the big league. Angry, Abe reminds Willoughby that the crowds love the Globetrotters, but later, the big arenas that had booked the team begin to cancel their appearances. Zack informs Abe that Willoughby secured the cancellations by describing the Globetrotters as a clown act, not a professional basketball team. When Abe learns that the team's application to play in the big tournament has been rejected, he loses hope and decides to quit the game. Inman warns Abe that without the faith he inspires, the team will fall apart, and Sylvia hints that by abandoning a life that makes him "crazy happy," Abe risks his identity as well as their marriage. Abe sells the team's bus and disappears, wiring only that he is in Detroit. Fearing that he has abandoned his principles to accept the Detroit job, Sylvia packs her bags and is about to return to Wisconsin when an agitated Zack, Inman and Pop Saperstein arrive at the apartment. Abe has wired Pop for money and seems to have borrowed against all their possessions. As the four argue, Abe appears and cheerfully announces that he has paid to schedule the Globetrotters into the biggest stadiums in the country, their games timed to compete with the big-league games. Afraid that the Globetrotters will steal big-league audiences, Willoughby allows the team to compete in the tournament but pits them, in their first game, against the powerful Washington Generals. Willoughby is astounded when the Globetrotters win, and later, he is even more surprised to find them playing in the championship game against the Chicago Majors. With Clifton and Tatum injured, the Globetrotters resort to a bit of clowning in order to give the other players needed rest, and in the final seconds, the team wins the game by a single point. Bursting with pride, Abe remarks that the success of the Harlem Globetrotters is only beginning.

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 22, 1954
Premiere Information
World premiere in Manila, Philippines: 22 Dec 1953; Los Angeles opening: 20 Jan 1954
Production Company
Sirod Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Bergenfield, New Jersey, United States; Boston, Massachusetts, United States; New York City, New York, United States; New York City--Madison Square Garden, New York, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
7,470ft (9 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Onscreen credits include the following disclaimer: "With the exception of persons whose true names are used, the characters and events portrayed are fictional." Celia Boodkin's surname is misspelled as "Bodkins" in the onscreen credits. Although most reviews and other contemporary sources list the film's title as either Go, Man, Go or Go, Man, Go! onscreen credits contain no punctuation. Abe Saperstein, who was born in London in 1902 after his parents migrated from Poland to England, grew up in Chicago and began coaching Negro basketball with the Giles Post American Legion Squad and the Savoy Big Five in 1926.
       The Harlem Globetrotters, so named by Saperstein because he wanted the public to know that the team was all-black, were formed principally from these two squads. As depicted in the film, the team performed for many years on the barnstorming circuit, but finally won the world professional tournament in Chicago in 1940. Later, however, the team switched their focus from competitive playing to showmanship and became enormously popular. The team continued its successful international tours after Saperstein's death in 1966. The players' comic warm-up routine is accompanied by the team's instrumental (and whistled) theme song, "Sweet Georgia Brown."
       Go Man Go is a "prequel" to the 1951 Columbia release The Harlem Globetrotters . Although contemporary sources indicate that Alfred Palca, the producer/writer of The Harlem Globetrotters, began as the producer/writer of Go Man Go, and had announced that Go Man Go was to be the initial production of Alfred Palca Enterprises, his name does not appear in the onscreen credits or in reviews. According to his Variety obituary, Palca wrote the film, but because he was blacklisted for his political views, he decided to give the writing credit to his cousin and brother-in-law in order to find a distributor for the picture. His credit was restored by the WGA in the mid-1990s.
       The film marked the directorial debut of James Wong Howe, one of the industry's most celebrated cinematographers. Although he co-directed The Invisible Avenger with John Sledge in 1958, Go Man Go was his only solo directing assignment. Pat Breslin made her screen acting debut in the picture. In addition to Fox's New York studio, filming took place at Madison Square Garden, and in Boston, MA, and Bergenfield, NJ, according to news items. As with The Harlem Globetrotters, reviewers commented on the film's subtle racial themes. The Los Angeles Examiner review noted that more than in the earlier film, Go Man Go concentrates on the "racial hurdles which the team has, in its history, overcome." The Daily Variety reviewer, however, added that "race is put over in the picture without direct mention or soapboxing of minority theme."

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States July 1984

Released in United States Winter February 1954

First feature directorial effort for famed cinematographer James Wong Howe.

The original producer and screenwriter, Alfred Palca, was forced to remove his name from the film due to the McCarthy-led HUAC investigations of 1957.

Released in United States Winter February 1954

Released in United States July 1984 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (50 Hour Sports Movie Marathon) July 5-20, 1984.)