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North Dallas Forty (1979)

A semi-fictional account of life as a professional (American-style) football player. Loosely based on the Dallas Cowboys team of the early 1970s.


Ted Kotcheff


Peter Gent (novel), Frank Yablans (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nick Nolte ... Phillip Elliott
Mac Davis ... Seth Maxwell
Charles Durning ... Coach Johnson
Dayle Haddon ... Charlotte Caulder
Bo Svenson ... Jo Bob Priddy
John Matuszak ... O. W. Shaddock
Steve Forrest ... Conrad Hunter
G.D. Spradlin ... B. A. Strothers
Dabney Coleman ... Emmett Hunter
Savannah Smith Boucher ... Joanne Rodney (as Savannah Smith)
Marshall Colt ... Art Hartman
Guich Koock Guich Koock ... Eddie Rand
Deborah Benson ... Mrs. Hartman
Jim Boeke Jim Boeke ... Stallings (as James F. Boeke)
John Bottoms John Bottoms ... Vip


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

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:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

3 August 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Destino de un rebelde See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


During a training camp in preparation for this movie, any actors or athletes who missed practice were fined. See more »


When Aclie Weeks injures his left hamstring, he hops on his left leg, putting all of his weight on the leg that is injured. If his left hamstring were pulled, he would have been hopping on his right leg. See more »


Maxwell: That's not gross! Shit, gross is when you go to kiss your grandpa good night and he sticks his tongue down your throat. That's gross! Anyway, he's got one that's about 8 inches long and pink, and its got these little crinkles in it, and its got this grinder that makes it go in and out...
See more »


Referenced in Drawn to the Flame (1997) See more »


Performed by The Gibson Brothers
Written by Jean Kluger & Daniel Vangarde
courtesy of Island Records
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User Reviews

Best football movie ever
18 August 2006 | by caa821See all my reviews

This movie is the best "football" film ever made. Along with "The Natural" - baseball, and "One-on-One" - basketball, these are an outstanding trilogy of the three best pictures representing our primary American sports, and all have interesting multi-dimensional stories as well. Pete Gent was a maverick in his NFL career, but it would seem his alter-ego, Phil (Nick Nolte), while possessing this same nature, is significantly more accomplished in his pro career (even if on the coach's "secondary list" in the film). Gent played six years, 48 games, with only 68 overall receptions and four touchdowns. These numbers and his yardage (his average per catch was pretty good) would comprise a good single season's stats.

The primary "athletes" in the film - played by Nolte, Davis, Matuszak and Svenson are realistic, interesting, tough and bawdy. Matuzsak's distinguished career was as a defensive end, and Svenson also possesses more of the physical characteristics of a defensive lineman. The fact, though, that they played offensive linemen in the film was obviously a necessity to the drama - both off- and on-field, where all four prime leads had to be on-screen simultaneously. As I mentioned in commenting on "One-on-One," where the great G. D. Spradlin was the basketball coach - coupled with this film, he wins the award of the "all-time horse's ass coach" hands-down. Durning was hilarious as the vacuous assistant coach. Anyone familiar with Gent and Tom Landry can see that Spradlin's coach Strothers is modeled - at least in part - from the latter. Although similar in appearance, and more "professorial" than most coaches, and probably often a bit distant -- Landry did not seem to possess the extremely negative traits displayed by Strothers. In the film, with the level of talent Nolte's "Phil" possessed, it is unlikely he'd have been as neglected by the coach as depicted, even in view of Strothers' compulsive devotion to his computerized statistics, and distaste for Nolte's persona. I suspect that this relationship has similarities to Gent's with Landry, but, again, Gent in real life was not as productive or talented as Nolte on film.

Steve Forrest was excellent as the smarmy, wealthy team owner, and Dabney Coleman as his even smarmier, completely unctuous younger brother. {Has anybody, EVER, in the history of the motion picture industry (t.v., too), done "smarmy" or "unctuous" as well as Dabney???} This one's a "10" for both sport and drama.

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