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200px-Slap shot movie poster

Director: George Roy Hill

Producer: Stephen J. Friedman, Robert J. Wunsch

Writer: Nancy Dowd

Music: Pierre Tubbs

Cinematography: Victor J. Kemper


Distributor: Universal Pictures

Released: February 25 1977

Runtime: 2 hours 3 minutes

Language: English


Slap Shot is a 1977 film starring Paul Newman and Michael Ontkean and directed by George Roy Hill. The film is based on a book written by Nancy Dowd, based in part on her brother Ned Dowd's experiences playing minor league hockey in the United States in the seventies, during which time violence, especially in the low minors, was the selling point of the game. It was filmed in Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

The movie focuses on a fictitious 'Federal League' team called the Charlestown Chiefs. The team, a perennial loser and in financial trouble due to mill closings in the town, is due to be folded at season's end.

Through the course of regular business, the team picks up the Hanson Brothers, violent goons with child-like mentalities. Reggie Dunlop, the veteran player-coach (played by Newman), perceiving them to be eccentric and unreliable, initially chooses not to play them. Finally, in a moment of desperation and passiveness, he brings the trio of thugs into the game to see what they can do. Their big open-ice hits and overly aggressive - bordering on homicidal - style of play is greatly praised by the fans in desperate need of something for which to cheer.

Dunlop, seeing the potential in this style of play, retools the team in the Hansons' image. Most of the other players - including Dave "Killer" Carlson (Jerry Houser) - take a liking to this, with the exception of Ned Braden (Ontkean), used to a clean, flashy style of play from his college days. Meanwhile, Braden's wife (Lindsay Crouse) has difficulty adjusting to the life of a hockey wife and finds a sympathizer in Dunlop's long-estranged wife.

It is also revealed to the team that as a result of the mill closing, this will be the last season for the Chiefs. As a means of keeping his team motivated, Dunlop plants a story (which is an outright lie) that the Chiefs are being sold to a prospective buyer in Florida and thus moving the team out of Charlestown. Finally, Dunlop asks the team's stingy General Manager (played by Strother Martin) who the Chiefs' owner is. After meeting the owner (a middle-aged woman living in a comfy suburb), she reveals that the team could be sold, but won't be, as she would prefer to fold the franchise and take a tax writeoff.

The whole idea turns around in the final game when the players discover there will not be another season and most are about to play their last game. Initially, they all vow to play a clean game, but their vicious style of play has provoked the opposing team - the Syracuse Bulldogs - to put together the most infamous set of goons ever to disgrace a hockey rink. When their annoyed business manager tells the losing Chiefs that there are NHL scouts in the stands, the game quickly degenerates into an on-ice slugfest. Suddenly, Ned Braden spies his estranged wife in the crowd, wearing fashionable clothes and a hairdo. He skates out to center ice and strips off his uniform - even the band gets into the act by playing "The Stripper". Suddenly, the teams stop fighting and start laughing - all except Syracuse captain Tim "Dr Hook" McCracken, who demands the referee stop Braden. When the official refuses, McCracken sucker-punches the ref, causing the referee to forfeit the game, and the Federal League championship, to the Chiefs. The team celebrates by parading around the ice with the championship trophy, carried by a jockstrap-only-clad Braden. It's revealed during the championship parade that Dunlop has landed a job as coach of a new team, the Minnesota Nighthawks -- and he intends to bring his players with him.

Ned Dowd himself played Syracuse goon Ogie Oglethorpe in the film and later used the role to launch a career as a Hollywood character actor and producer.

The three actors who play the Hanson brothers: Steve Carlson, Jeff Carlson and Dave Hanson, were actually real hockey players, and the Carlsons are actually brothers. A third Carlson brother, Jack Carlson was supposed to appear as the third brother, with Dave Hanson playing the character of the player Dave "Killer" Carlson, which was based on him. Jack was called up to play for the Edmonton Oilers in the WHA play-offs so he was not available for the film, so Dave Hanson took his place.


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