North Dallas Forty (1979)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Sport  |  3 August 1979 (USA)
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A semi-fictional account of life as a professional Football (American-style) player. Loosely based on the Dallas Cowboys team of the early 1970s.



(novel), (screenplay), 4 more credits »
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1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Coach Johnson
Charlotte Caulder
Jo Bob Priddy
Conrad Hunter
B. A. Strothers
Emmett Hunter
Joanne Rodney (as Savannah Smith)
Marshall Colt ...
Art Hartman
Guich Koock ...
Eddie Rand
Deborah Benson ...
Mrs. Hartman
Jim Boeke ...
Stallings (as James F. Boeke)
John Bottoms ...


A semi-fictional account of life as a professional Football (American-style) player. Loosely based on the Dallas Cowboys team of the early 1970s. Written by Afterburner <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They pay you and they pay you well. On one condition. You play the game their way, even if you're forced to break every bone in your body. [UK Theatrical] See more »


Comedy | Drama | Sport


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 August 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Czterdziestka z North Dallas  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


To prepare for his role as an NFL footballer, actor Nick Nolte underwent a rigorous training schedule for several weeks with professional NFL footballers. See more »


There are several lip-synch problems throughout, probably due to re-dubbing lines. See more »


O. W. Shaddock: Hey, Coach? Is it alright if me and Jo Bob have a couple copies of that poem?
Jo Bob: Yeah, we'd appreciate that Coach Johnson.
O. W. Shaddock: That has to be one of the most inspiring poems i've ever heard.
See more »


Referenced in Mike & Mike: Episode dated 23 July 2014 (2014) See more »


Good Times
Performed by Chic
Written by Bernard Edwards & Nile Rodgers
courtesy of Atlantic Records
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User Reviews

Honest and straightforward account of the lives of football players.
17 September 2015 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

"North Dallas Forty" can rightfully take its place among the greatest of sports based movies. It's an intelligent, unflinching look into the world of professional (American) football, and the assortment of characters that inhabit the world. There's no need for flashy filmmaking here; the drama is strong enough to carry the story, along with some completely authentic performances. People unfamiliar with this movie will note that there's not necessarily a lot of game action; the concentration is on the action taking place off the playing field.

The pivotal character is Phillip Elliott (Nick Nolte), a weary seen-it-all veteran of the game, a top notch receiver conscious of all the punishment that his body has taken over the years. Phillip knows the game very well, but he's not too interested in playing a different sort of game, with the hard-driving coaches (G.D. Spradlin and Charles Durning) and the greedy team owner (Steve Forrest). Fortunately, he does have one good friend: star quarterback Seth Maxwell (singer Mac Davis).

This is scripted by director Ted Kotcheff ("First Blood"), producer Frank Yablans, and author Peter Gent, who wrote the semi-fictional novel on which the movie is based. Based on the Dallas Cowboys team of the early 1970s, it takes its time telling the story, contrasting the more philosophical and low key nature of Phillip with gung-ho defensive players like O.W. Shaddock (real life football star John Matuszak) and Jo Bob Priddy (amusing live wire Bo Svenson). We feel completely sympathetic towards Phillip, and can also practically feel the pain that he experiences after every game. There are several key emotional scenes, especially towards the end.

Nolte is excellent in the lead role, and as one can see, the supporting cast is full of rock solid actors (also among them is Dabney Coleman as Forrests' younger brother). Nolte and Davis have very fine chemistry and one can buy them as friends. Dayle Haddon, as a love interest for Nolte, isn't terribly effective because she comes off as just too aloof.

Compelling material, even for people who aren't necessarily football fans.

Eight out of 10.

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