"This movie really blew the lid off a lot of the shenanigans that go on in professional sports. I'm sure that many were upset with the portrayal of athletes as drunken, pill popping idiots but that was probably a reality back then. This movie precedes Any Given Sunday by two decades and still hits harder in its revelation of football's seamy side. Nick Nolte is superb as Phil Elliott. Mac Davis also gives a fine performance. The scenes of athletes being shot up with painkillers to play is intense. The laissez faire attitude of coaches and team owners is probably more realistic than the NFL would care to admit. I love the scene when Nolte gets suspended for smoking marijuana and his response is that the team is injecting harder drugs into him each Sunday just so he can play. That kind of mirrors the insanity and stupidity of the NFL drug testing policies even today. Football is an American institution but indeed there is a dark side. This movie does a fine job of pointing that out."
For movie lovers and football fans
George Schaefer | 05/18/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"NORTH DALLAS FORTY delivers first-rate entertainment. Football fans will note stinging parodies of a few famous NFL players/coaches. Among quality performances from Nick Nolte, Mac Davis, Charles Durning and the late John Matuszak, actor Bo Svenson stands out. Svenson adds depth to what could have been a cartoonish role of an immature, stupid muscle-head, and it is unfortunate that I have not seen him in anything else this good. The film's poster makes NORTH DALLAS FORTY look as though it is a pro football version of ANIMAL HOUSE. Sure, NORTH DALLAS FORTY is funny at times, but the film also takes on the abuses in big league sports and management's selective enforcement of the rules. Sports journalists, let alone other sports films, ought to address those issues as boldly."
A real good film
email@example.com | usa | 02/01/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Nick Nolte&Mac Davis give great performances in this film.this film pre-dates all of the maddness that has happened in the NFL since it's release.drugs,sex,coaches,etc..this film is one of the best sports movies.the real life Dallas Cowboys finally caught up with the film in the mid-90's."
A Film About Football, NOT A Football Film
E. VANDERWOLF | Portland, Oregon United States | 01/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember this coming out when I was a kid. I also remember I wasn't allowed to see it other than in its butchered form on Network Television. Now I know why.
This is a fantastic film. One thing that struck me is that for a football film, there is very little actual football in it. Which is the reason for the title of my review. This film is ABOUT football... not a football film. It's about the players in a time when the league was still young and, I dare say, corrupted by the use of pain killers and alochol. It was the hey dey of the Cowboys, the Raiders and the Steelers and football players were treated like Rock Stars.
It's the film "Any Given Sunday" wanted to be. But failed miserably at even being a cheap imitation.
If you loved 1970's films and 1970's football, this film is a must see."
A better halftime show than Janet Jackson
Jason A. Miller | New York, New York USA | 01/31/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an unsparing, unsentimental look at pro football in which the players are alternately brutes, and slaves to management. Coaches shamelessly manipulate the players and then discard them the moment injury strikes; the players are drugged up in order to coax them onto the field, while at the same time the unpopular players are ensnared by drug charges in order to trap them at contract renegotiation time.
"North Dallas Forty" is probably one of my favorite sports movies, and definitely my favorite football movie. That's because of its defiant outsider approach -- "Ball Four", the baseball book that made Peter Gent's football novel possible, only ever wound up a lame sitcom; "North Dallas Forty" goes all the way. Even though the movie is based on the Dallas Cowboys of the 1960s, the instantly dated 1970s' filmmaking technique remains timeless (even if it's from the same director who made "Weekend at Bernie's", which is timeless for very different reasons).
Part of the movie's continuing appeal remains its cast. Nick Nolte is a brilliant lead, as the rebellious but honest-to-a-fault North Dallas wide receiver Phil Elliott. Phil tells it like it is and sees management for what they are, but doesn't realize he's being cheated out of his career until the third or fourth time he's been double-crossed by owners, coaches and friends alike.
Playing a riff on Dandy Don Meredith, country singer/songwriter Mac Davis plays sly quarterback Seth Maxwell. The rest of the football team is filled out with several ex-NFL players. John Matuszak's second acting career was launched by this movie, and Bo Svenson's football career should have been launched by this movie. The coaches, Charles Durning (as a cliche-spouting offensive coordinator) and the great G.D. Spradlin (playing a thinly veiled Tom Landry) both dominate their scenes. And yes, that's Dabney Coleman as an oil man and part owner who delivers one of the movie's best lines ("Do you speak Canadian?").
Dayle Haddon looks great as Phil's love interest, but otherwise gets overshadowed by the rest of the cast. She seems so disinterested in Phil throughout the movie that I was convinced their relationship wouldn't make it another week after the story ended.
Kotcheff directs his football scenes with an interesting approach that could never be duplicated today: there's not a single wide shot of a packed house, not a single closeup of a spectator in North Dallas face paint and a Maxwell jersey. Gone are the excesses of modern TV football coverage, and the only product endorsement I could spot was for xylocaine. Most of the early football action is shown in mute flashbacks, and the climactic game against Chicago is not joined until after the two-minute warning. Even with such minimal football, however, Kotcheff's action is so muddy, bloody and cruel that you can imagine the final game sequence was cued up in L.T.'s VCR the fateful Monday night he tangled with Joe Theismann's leg.
Always worth watching every late January, "North Dallas Forty" is one of those films you hope is never going to be remade, because the original has everything you need in a football movie."