Players (1979) Poster


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Wimbledon rain delay - The Movie!
Peter Hayes20 March 2004
A young tennis player gets romantically involved with the older mistress of a tycoon and finds that foreplay can be good for forehand.

You feel an extra sense of responsibility when writing a review of a movie that has not been reviewed before. While I wouldn't want to doubt that all the "markers" have seen the film - I would suggest that they are lightly questioned about where, when and if they saw it through to the end.

(Not even the world of zillion channel television can find room for this box office bomb - indeed I think they have stored the negative in the same strong room that the US government use for anthrax!)

This is not actually the worst sports film I have ever seen, but it is made with that lethargy that seemed to haunt the 1970's. However it is the worst film to win any kind of award, Dean Paul Martin (grandson of the other Dean Martin) was voted "Best Newcomer" at the Golden Globes. While clearly an ok tennis player (quite quick feet) all the editing in the world can't make him look world-class. Not even in the days of woodern rackets and players with 34 inch waist bands.

(Let his film history prove how good he was as an actor. He later died in a plane crash.)

This soap opera tries to steal from Love Story, Rocky and The Graduate but has nothing to put back in exchange. Ali McGraw doesn't have a lot to do other than look on with interest for a lot of the time - indeed this is often where the camera lingers in real tennis given that so many of the players have a personality by-pass. Some credit, however, for using the genuine locations for filming - climaxing at Wimbledon Centre Court no less.

There are crumbs of comfort to be had: The voice of the late Dan Maskell is sadly missed by the tennis world - the game lost its authority when he retired (he died soon after) and the world of 1970's tennis is worth seeing again if you - like me - are a tennis fan of a certain age.

While all things are relative this does have an interesting climax, but only in relation to the sleep-athon parts that went before. I would normally say "judge for yourself" but with this product you are probably not allowed to!
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Game - Set - Match
bkoganbing1 January 2010
After seeing Players I'm convinced this film might have been originally meant for Vincent Van Patten who has never made up his mind whether he prefers tennis or show business more. For some reason Van Patten might not have been available so another Hollywood tennis player with a bigger box office name was obtained for the role of the young tennis hustler who gets involved with a slightly older woman mistress of an international business tycoon.

So Dean Paul Martin, son of Dean Martin was given the hustler role opposite Ali McGraw and Maximilian Schell. The film was produced at Paramount by Robert Evans who was married to McGraw at the time and laid a huge international egg.

Putting it bluntly, Dean Paul Martin while he looked real good in shorts simply isn't an actor. Both Ali McGraw and Maximilian Schell just buried the young man on the screen. Not to say he couldn't have developed over time into an actor, he did have a certain presence on the screen. But I suspect the bad reviews probably soured him on a film career.

The story is told in flashback with Martin having finally made the championship round at Wimbledon as an unseeded player. In between the shots of the game, we are told the story of the triangle and how the relationship with McGraw turned his life around.

I will say this in young Mr. Martin's favor, next to him tennis great Pancho Gonzalez looked bad as an actor. Gonzalez played Martin's coach and as an actor Gonzalez was a great tennis player.

We all know about young Dino's tragic death flying jets for the Air Force reserve in Nevada. Would that a better film be some kind of living epitaph for him.
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A Stinker
Cbak18 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This film is a 10/10 turkey. The attempts to give it authenticity are in its favour (cameos from John McEnroe, Ilie Nastase, Pancho Gonzales playing the role of coach), but can't save it from the lame plot, and the laughable sense of unreality about how spectacularly successful Dean Martin Jr suddenly becomes. A sparsely populated and quiet Wimbledon Centre Court at the end only adds to the sense of unreality (anyone who knows anything about Wimbledon knows that Centre Court is packed and noisy an all days of The Championships, but especially the men's singles final). The other contributor spoke about the great Dan Maskell passing away "soon after". He actually lived for at least another 13 years, as his last commentary was in 1991, and he was a guest of honour the following year, the year in which I believe he died.

***spoiler alert***

The proof of this film being pure fantasy was not so much that Dean Martin Jr's character reached the Wimbledon final. It was that the winner was Guillermo Vilas, who in reality only once got as far as the quarter-final!
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Bad Movie, Wrong Release Date
Rob Muir (gazelam)26 June 2007
Agreed with other reviewers about the abysmal quality of the movie. Even Ali McGraw's beauty was insufficient to cause this movie to have any redeeming quality. Dean Paul Martin as a tennis hustler who goes on to reach the finals of Wimbledon? Please, give me break. How about a tennis hustler who goes on to have his legs broken by an upset mark?

Given all that, it seems a pity to waste one more erg of energy on this loser, but I have to disagree with the release date. I saw this film on a flight to Japan in early June of 1978. There was no way this was released in 1979. So that makes it the worst film of 1978, not the worst film of 1979. Now, I suppose that they might have test-screened the film to captive airline audiences to see if someone would be so upset as to throw themselves out of the plane rather than see the dragging conclusion - I could not say.
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Great movie well acted
tonyyyw22 October 2017
This is a great movie so don't listen to the negative rubbish spouted by the previous posters. Its a love story and very authentic in its presentation. The tennis scenes are excellent and so is Dean Paul Martin. So if you want to see a soppy love film about tennis then this is well worth a watch. Obviously a bit dated now but well worth watching.
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