Friday, February 8, 2013

Giving Them What They Want :: A 20 Vid-Cap Look at George Roy Hill's Slap Shot (1977)

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"The fans are standing up to them! The security guards are standing up to them! The peanut vendors are standing up to them! And by golly, if I could get down there, I'd be standing up to them!"
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Mirroring the financially strapped city it calls home, a minor-league hockey team faces foreclosure and liquidation at the end of the current season. Knowing this is his last chance, the veteran coach (Newman) concocts a hair-brained scheme to increase ticket sales by urging his players to goon it up and bust some heads, penalty-box be damned, to save the team, his job and, hopefully, his marriage.

Like North Dallas Forty and Bull Durham that followed in its wake, Slap Shot is about a fifty-fifty split between the lives and antics of the underdog Charlestown Chiefs in the locker room and on the ice -- most notably those lords of slot cars, foil and chaos known as the Hanson brothers, and the pursuit of some nookie off of it; be it the act itself or the relationship troubles it causes.) 

Now, I don't think anybody would argue that Slap Shot isn't the greatest hockey movie ever made since I'm hard pressed to even name five other hockey movies at all (without including the sequels this spawned). But I also proudly belong to a very vocal minority who proclaim Slap Shot to be the greatest sports movie of all time, period; with The Bad News Bears finishing second and Eight Men Out a distant third. 

Hell, this even qualifies as my favorite Paul Newman flick, too; here, teaming up with his old buddy, George Roy Hill again (The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). I mean nobody, but NOBODY, else could pull of those leather pants and plaid leisure suits. And though people usually only associate him with dramatic or hard-boiled roles, Newman always shined when he flexed his funny-bone and he should have done it more, judging by the strong evidence found here. So head on down to old War Memorial Stadium, folks, plenty of premium seats still available, and give Slap Shot a whirl if you haven't had the pleasure -- or consider this some encouragement to revisit it again. C'mon. Drop the puck, already!!!

Other Points of Interest:

Slap Shot (1977) Kings Road Entertainment :: Pan Arts Productions :: Universal Pictures / P: Stephen J. Friedman, Robert J. Wunsch / AP: Robert Crawford Jr. / D: George Roy Hill / W: Nancy Dowd / C: Vic Kemper / E: Dede Allen / M: Elmer Bernstein / S: Paul Newman, Michael Ontkean, Strother Martin, Jennifer Warren, Lindsay Crouse, The Hanson Brothers


Tim Lehnerer said...

I really love the announcer who says something like "He's an American citizen AND a college graduate!" about one of the never-gonna-bes on the team. He sounds so proud.

The greatest sports movie ever made, however, is DEATH RACE 2000.

W.B. Kelso said...

"Oh this young man has had a very trying rookie season, with the litigation, the notoriety, his subsequent deportation to Canada and that country's refusal to accept him, well, I guess that's more than most 21-year-olds can handle... Ogie Ogilthorpe!"

Hot Corner said...

Slap Shot is in the pantheon of great sports movies of the 70's along with Bad News Bears, The Longest Yard, and North Dallas Forty. In fact, I would agree with Chad that it's the best, until the last 15 minutes or so. I thought the least interesting character was Ned, Lindsay Crouse deserved a lot better.

W.B. Kelso said...

With a script that hollow off the ice, you're right, Crouse did deserve better, and Warren could have used more screen time, too. Still, I'll stand by the ending.

However, I will amend my list and place DIGGSTOWN third on my list of favorite sports movies.

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