Starring Paul Newman, Michael Ontkean, Strother Martin, Lindsay Crouse, Jennifer Warren, Jerry Houser, Melinda Dillon & M. Emmet Walsh.
Written by Nancy Dowd.
Directed by George Roy Hill.
The Charlestown Chiefs are a two-bit minor league hockey team on the verge of collapse. When the team enlists three sadistic, bespectacled brothers, their violent antics on the ice (they like to play with toys in their spare time) earn the Chiefs a new legion of fans. However, the increasing infamy is no guarantee of the teams’ salvation, and is less than admired by their star player. This profane comedy is one of the best films about sport ever made – frequently hilarious but also possessing, as most great comedies do, excellent pathos and drama. The film is not only blessed with four great performances from Newman, Ontkean, Martin and the foxy Crouse, but plays host to a gallery of wonderful supporting characters, from the French-Canadian goalie Denis (Yvon Barrette) to the sleazy, foul-minded Morris (Brad Sullivan). Director George Roy Hill rarely put a foot wrong in his exceptional career with flawlessly executed films such as The Sting, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid and The World According To Garp. Hill’s work was singular and in many ways ahead of its time, and he also possessed the good sense to consistently adapt quality scripts. Slap Shot provided a formula that inspired a litany of foul-mouthed comedies throughout the 1980s, yet it remains one of the more under-appreciated comedy greats of the seminal 1970s. (As a side note, writer Dowd went on to write for Saturday Night Live in the early 80s but also penned the first of two sequels to Slap Shot many years later, neither of which come close to the original).
By Wadrick Jones