The Program

Still of David S. Ward in The ProgramStill of James Caan and Abraham Benrubi in The ProgramStill of James Caan and Craig Sheffer in The ProgramStill of Craig Sheffer and Kristy Swanson in The ProgramStill of Kristy Swanson in The ProgramStill of James Caan and David S. Ward in The Program


Several players from different backgrounds try to cope with the pressures of playing football at a major university…

Release Year: 1993

Rating: 6.1/10 (4,575 voted)

David S. Ward

Stars: James Caan, Halle Berry, Omar Epps

Several players from different backgrounds try to cope with the pressures of playing football at a major university. Each deals with the pressure differently, some turn to drinking, others to drugs, and some to studying.

Writers: David S. Ward, Aaron Latham


James Caan

Sam Winters

Halle Berry

Autumn Haley

Omar Epps

Darnell Jefferson

Craig Sheffer

Joe Kane

Kristy Swanson

Camille Shafer

Abraham Benrubi

Bud-Lite Kaminski

Duane Davis

Alvin Mack

Jon Pennell

Bobby Collins

(as Jon Maynard Pennell)

Joey Lauren Adams


(as Joey Adams)

J.C. Quinn

Joe's Father

Andrew Bryniarski

Steve Lattimer

J. Leon Pridgen II

Ray Griffen

Michael Flippo

Coach Humes

(as Mike Flippo)

Jeff Portell

Reporter #1

Ernest Dixon

Coach Clayton

Pressure surrounds them. Competition divides them. Talent unites them. A story of what it takes to survive…

Release Date: 24 September 1993

Filming Locations: Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA

Gross: $23,004,026

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


Michigan coaching legend Glenn E. (Bo) Schembechler is in the booth providing color commentary for the Michigan game.


Audio/visual unsynchronized:
There's no possible way Darnell Jefferson would be able to speak so clearly while having a mouthpiece in his mouth during the game against Michigan.


Coach Winters:
We gotta ring that bell! We gotta to ring that championship bell!

Steve Lattimer:
Ding motherfu**ing dong!

User Review

Underrated, Accurate Football Movie Starring the Godfather's James Caan

Rating: 8/10

Trips Bunch. The Power I. The Cover 2. If you know what these terms
mean, and understand their uses in football strategy, then you'll
really enjoy watching David S. Ward's the Program. Ward also wrote and
directed Major League, a great movie; however, with The Program, it is
obvious how much his sports writing style has evolved.

The movie traces one season of college football for a once dominate,
but now struggling Division 1 powerhouse, the fictional ESU
Timeberwolves. James Caan is hilarious and well-cast as the Head Coach
on the hot seat, and it's really great watching him deal with serious
issues both on and off the field. Craig Shaeffer does a solid job at
both his role and the QB position. His character is like a young, much
more tortured Steve Young: he can throw the long ball, he can buy time
with his feet, and he can do it all while battling inner demons. Omar
Epps (the Wood) is simply perfectly cast as Darnell Jefferson, the
prototype freshman Tailback fighting for his spot on the 1st team (plus
the beautiful Halle Berry plays his love interest).

The movie is filled with hilariously awesome lines and performances,
and is a classic among people who actually play football. While the
editing work could be scrutinized among movie Nazis (the editing job
when Kane and his girl are riding his motorcycle is questionable at
times), the good far outweighs the bad. Namely, the in-helmet camera
work really puts you on the field with them. Overall, David S. Ward
does an excellent job of jumping from perspective to perspective, and
it quickly builds into this chaotic, early 90s mosaic of Division 1
college football. And surprisingly, the issues explored in the film
really resonate with the issues going on in today's sports (i.e.
Steroids, Motorcycle death wishes).

Listen, if you haven't seen this movie, and you love football, and are
of mild intelligence, then you are either really young or really lucky
that you missed it because I wish i could watch it again for the first
time. However, if you have no appreciation for the game of football,
you're better off going elsewhere. Football idealists, be warned as
well. This movie is the anti-Rudy. It's the story of one school's fight
for a bowl bid, and fighting for that bid at all costs.

PS- My vote is very biased. I love to quote this movie with friends. I
love to watch football on both Saturday and Sunday. I play fantasy
football. I play Madden. I played Division 3 football in college. You
have been warned. The only reason I didn't rate it higher than I did is
because some of the scenes between Joe Kane and his woman can get a
little bit slow. But she's cute if that helps you out at all (her early
90's style is classic).