North Dallas Forty
1979 | Drama/Comedy | 119 minutes | English
North Dallas Forty depicts the brutal, unmerciful world that took place with a professional football team in the 1970s. It is based on the autobiographical novel by Peter Gent, a Dallas Cowboys wide receiver. Phil Elliott is an aging wide receiver for the North Dallas Bulls. He’s been beaten up playing many years and relies heavily on pain-killing pills and injections, but he still possesses “the best hands in the game.” The team’s imperious coach, B.A. Strother, ruthlessly considers the team a business and the players dispensable. Phil’s best friend on the team is Seth Maxwell, a talented quarterback who helps Phil by making sure to toss him important passes during the game. Phil’s nonconformist attitude incurs the coach’s wrath and the coach hires a detective hoping to catch Phil taking drugs and playing around with women. Phil realizes the investigation is a pretext to drive him off the team without fulfilling the remaining months of his contract. Phil has this dream of quitting and retiring on a horse farm with his girlfriend Charlotte. If the coach and the team owner razz him enough, might he do just that?
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 84%
- Metacritic Score: 80
National Board of Review: Listed, Top Ten Films of the Year
National Society of Film Critics Awards: Nominated, Best Actor (Nick Nolte)
New York Film Critics Circle Awards: Nominated, Best Actor (Nick Nolte)
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The production is a most realistic, hard-hitting and perceptive look at the seamy side of pro football. What distinguishes this screen adaptation is the exploration of a human dimension almost never seen in film. Most people understand that modern-day athletes are just cogs in a big business wheel, but getting that across on the screen is a whole different matter.
A lot of real football players have been cast as the North Dallas Bulls, but there is nothing stilted or amateurish in their acting of locker-room scenes or practice sessions: they perfectly capture the nervous camaraderie of men with a shared knowledge of how easily, how effortlessly they can be replaced.
The sumptuous film, based on Cuarón’s own childhood, reverberates not only with innocence but with the awful intuition of its collapse.
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