The character of Stallings was played by Jim Boeke (billed as James F. Boeke), who was one of source novelist and co-scripter Peter Gent's real-life teammates from the Dallas Cowboys. This was not Boeke's cinema movie debut though, Boeke had film experience, as he had earlier appeared in Heaven Can Wait and had two other TV credits. See more »
There are several lip-synch problems throughout, probably due to re-dubbing lines. See more »
Fine sleeper film, very much a reflection of iconoclastic 1970's. Seldom has corruptive nature of professional sports been on more vivid display than here. Pro football (and others?) comes across as supremely exploitative of players, with millionaire owners collecting the reflected glory. Sure, money is good as is lure of easy women, and adulation is hard to resist, but cost comes high as battered and bruised Nick Nolte finally figures out. Emphasis throughout is on obvious physical toll, but inner toll proves equally devastating. Team quarterback Mac Davis's sly character and coaching staff's slimy ploys illustrate that inner rot in sometimes subtle fashion.
Davis's understated performance provides memorable glimpse of intelligent man trapped by own weaknesses. Also one of Nick Nolte's most natural performances in both a brilliant and unorthodox career. His Phil Elliot may not be as clever as Davis, but the love of the game is truer, helping him finally see through the clouds of hype. But where oh where was director Kotcheff when beleaguered non-actress Dale Haddon so clearly needed help. Her one and only expression, paralyzed fear, almost brings down the entire film. Was the casting of this ex-Playboy playmate Hugh Hefner's price for assistance with the production?
Thanks Peter Gent for the gutsy expose' and Frank Yablans for bringing it to the screen intact. (After all those Monday evenings on TV, who could ever think of Tom Landry, Don Meredith or straight-laced Roger Staubach the same way again.) (Then too, fans might check out 1949's "Easy Living", a less caustic but also revealing film on the earlier days of pro football.) All in all, the screenplay of North Dallas is one of the best from the period -- humorous, savvy, and richly ironic -- the final boardroom scene arguably among the most compelling of any on sports. It's also one of the best arguments for getting athletics out of all those cathedrals of cult worship and back into neighborhood sandlots where they belong.
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