26 September 1998 | Deckard-16
This is a biting and uproarious look at the world of pro football.
North Dallas Forty rates as one of the all-time best sports movies ever made and is probably the best football film ever. Peter Gent's excellent novel was essentially a roman a clef about the Dallas Cowboys --America's Team-- of the '60s and 70's. And this movie sticks very close the book only dropping the novel's bloodbath ending. Nick Nolte gives one of his best performances as a world weary receiver facing the end of his playing days and still not wanting to become a full-fledged adult. Mac Davis is wonderfully wise cracking as the quarterback and leader of the team (basically he playing the real Don Meredith). G.D. Spradlin is memorably uptight and tight-jawed as the head coach. The rest of the cast fills out this colorful world of a raucous pro football team very well. It is an antic filled movie that tells a very dark tale of rich owners and rich people treating anybody beneath them like cattle. When one of the cattle happens to be smarter then the rest of the herd and decides to quit playing dumb --Nolte's character-- then that animal is turned away from the herd and is no longer allowed to play anymore reindeer games (if I may mix metaphors). The movie is played broadly but it cynical bite elevates it to a a much higher status as a serious work. Kudos to Ted Kotcheff for his acute direction.