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Slap Shot

Slap Shot – 1977
Slap Shot out slaps… out swears… out laughs…
George Roy Hill

Nancy Dowd

Robert L. Crawford associate producer
Stephen J. Friedman producer (as Stephen Friedman)
Robert J. Wunsch producer
Patrick Kelley co-executive producer (uncredited)

Paul Newman – Reggie Dunlop
Strother Martin – McGrath
Michael Ontkean – Ned Braden
Jennifer Warren – Francine
Lindsay Crouse – Lily
Jerry Houser – Killer Carlson
Andrew Duncan – Jim Carr, Sportscaster
Jeff Carlson – Jeff Hanson
Steve Carlson – Steve Hanson
David Hanson – Jack Hanson
Yvon Barrette – Denis
Allan F. Nicholls – ‘Johnny’ Upton (as Allan Nicholls)
Brad Sullivan – Wanchuk
Stephen Mendillo – Jim Ahern
Yvan Ponton – Drouin
Matthew Cowles – Charlie
Kathryn Walker – Anita McCambridge
Melinda Dillon – Suzanne
M. Emmet Walsh – Dickie Dunn
Swoosie Kurtz – Shirley
Paul D’Amato – Tim McCracken
Ronald L. Docken – Lebrun
Guido Tenesi – Billy Charlebois
Jean Rosario Tetreault – Bergeron
Christopher Murney – Hanrahan
Myron Odegaard – Final Game Referee
Ned Dowd – Ogilthorpe
Gracie Head – Pam
Nancy Dowd – Andrea (as Nancy N. Dowd)
Barbara L. Shorts – Bluebird
Larry Block – Peterboro Referee
Paul Dooley – Hyannisport Announcer
Janet Arters – Sparkle Twin (uncredited)
Louise Arters – Sparkle Twin (uncredited)
Blake Ball – Gilmore Tuttle, Bulldog Player (uncredited)
Reg Bechtold – Hockey Player (uncredited)
Danny Belisle – Syracuse Bulldog Player (uncredited)
Mark Bousquet – Andre ‘Poodle’ Lussier, Bulldog Player (uncredited)
Allison Caine – Additional Voice (uncredited)
Stephen Dowling – Hockey Referee (uncredited)
John Gofton – Nick Brophy, Hyannisport Presidents (uncredited)
Galen Head – Hockey Player (uncredited)
Reggie Krezanski – Hockey Player (uncredited)
Louie Levasseur – Goalie (uncredited)
Connie Madigan – Ross ‘Mad Dog’ Madison, Bulldog Player (uncredited)
Tye Mazzio – Mathew (stick boy) (uncredited)
Ted McCaskill – Hockey Player (uncredited)
Jon McClintock – TV Reporter (uncredited)
Mickey McQuillan – Dickie Dunn’s son (uncredited)
Susan Kendall Newman – Pharmacist (uncredited)
Joe Nolan – Clarence ‘Screaming Buffalo’ Swamptown (Syracuse Bulldogs player) (uncredited)
Dick Roberge – Referee Ecker (uncredited)
Ray Schultz – Syracuse Bulldog player (uncredited)

The player-coach of a nowhere small town hockey team must deal with an intractable owner, hostile crowds and on-ice thuggery in this warm-hearted and only slightly farcical look at ice hockey.

Review by Bill Slocum

The Goon Show,
Man, I needed one complete viewing just to get a load of Paul Newman’s wardrobe! Checkered pants. Fur-lined jacket. Buff leather jacket and matching pants. Great artists sacrifice for their art, and Baby Blue Eyes certainly does so here. Dropping a few F-Bombs must have been nothing to him after dressing up like that.
It’s for a good cause. “Slap Shot” is an enjoyable, one-of-a-kind sports film. Like many other sports films from the 1970s, such as “North Dallas Forty” and “Rollerball,” there’s a strong focus on how athletes are used and abandoned in a capitalist society, but the message here is leavened, and largely bypassed, by the over-the-top humor, courtesy of Newman, Strother Martin as a shyster owner, and a team full of colorful misfits led by three brothers named Hanson whose thick Dilbert glasses and love for toy race cars doesn’t distract them from committing felonies on the ice against their fellow men.

“Slap Shot” is about as much a guy’s movie as can be, so naturally the screenwriter was a woman, Nancy Dowd. She wallows in all the profane banter, casual misogyny, and random acts of brutal violence in a way that might play a bit on the page like “Clockwork Orange” but is saved by the film’s amiable humor and sense of fun.

The darkest thing about “Slap Shot” is the premise. The Charlestown Chiefs, a minor league hockey team, are about to fold, and player-coach Reggie Dunlop schemes to turn his motley crew into winners by getting their blood up, along with their fans, by transforming them into thuggish winners to attract the attentions of an outside buyer that might keep the team running in friendlier climes.

As played by Newman, Dunlop is very likable in his rascally ways, even while taunting a goalie about his lesbian wife for a cheap score. Newman throws up some vivid detail in this scene and others that must have caused a few people to blanch when “Slap Shot” hit theaters in 1977, but his banter is perhaps a bit less scandalous today and the movie as a whole seems to be improving with time. It’s about the only thing out there, other than maybe “Youngblood” and “Miracle,” for hockey-loving moviegoers, and it remains the most popular, perhaps even best take on one very odd sport.

The film is disjointed, though, with a strange subplot about one player named Braden who resists Dunlop’s “gooning it up” and Braden’s long-suffering dipso wife. The story here seems to strive for pathos a bit, and to give us something other than jokes, but as the pair are played by the unlikeable Michael Ontkean and Lindsay Crouse, it’s hard to care much about them or how they turn out. They only slow down every scene they’re in.

The film scores better in the dramatic department with Dunlop’s attempts at winning back his estranged wife. Dunlop’s sincere in this, but easily distracted both in his machinations to save the team and by all the easy quail he finds on the road. One of the best things about the film is that it doesn’t tie this plot thread up so neatly.

“Slap Shot” works best as a comedy. Like when Dunlop blackmails the owner’s identity from Strother Martin, or how one mild-mannered player transforms himself into a guy named “Killer” who shows up at the big game wearing a Dracula cape. There’s a driver who takes a sledge hammer to the team bus to “make it look mean,” assorted opponents who look like they escaped from “Oz,” and especially the Hansons, who are used very well because they are used sparingly.

Director George Roy Hill was never wedded to any one style, and this is as far as you can get from other films he made that same decade, like “A Little Romance” and “The Sting.” He does very little to dress up “Slap Shot,” even the credit sequences are perfunctory, but he knew how to make a good movie, and did so here.

If you don’t mind sports films that are a little raunchy and mean of heart, you will be entertained by this one.

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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