In our continuing series of 47 films to see before you are murdered in your dreams, we present the gritty football drama North Dallas Forty.
If you were to look at the poster of North Dallas Forty, you might think it is going to be a boisterous comedy. Raucous laughs, beery fun, locker room jokes. That kind of thing.
But I don’t think there’s a more brutal film about professional sports. Nick Nolte stars as Phil Elliott, a professional footballer whose body is a calamitous mass of bruises and barely healed bones. Seeing him ease into a bath as he sucks down painkillers, booze and pot to numb the results of the previous night’s game is to watch a body literally on its last legs. Directed by Ted Kotchef, the film shows the sport to be a decadent activity stripped of almost all romance in the pursuit of success and money.
The team is held up as the ultimate value. But ultimately there’s no reciprocity. The team doesn’t matter. As Elliott tells his coach: ‘We’re not the team; we’re the equipment.’
Nolte was a footballer for a time and he imbues his role with a world weary knowledge. He’s a self-destructive man who might be saved by simple weariness as much as a late romantic entanglement with Charlotte, a girl he meets at a party. The partying is a microcosm of the world, with a very rapey vibe as well as violence and humiliation lingering under the hedonism. Elliott and his quarterback pal pop pills and drink beers as they prepare for the game, but Elliott has been benched. There might be a possibility of one last chance, but it means getting the doctor to drug him so he doesn’t feel the pain of his destroyed knee.
There have been plenty of disaffected sports films – Slapshot comes to mind and Fat City – but North Dallas Forty hangs in there as one of the most critical of its subject. The only plea for the sport as a sport rather than a business comes from one of the dumbest characters as they other players look on slack-jawed with surprise.
For more of our 47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams CLICK HERE.
In our continuing series of ’47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams’, we look at Walter Hill’s blood soaked border Western Extreme Prejudice.
Walter Hill has often been a director somewhat overlooked. His made a series of successful action movies, but there’s often the sense that he is too often written off as a meer action director. And yet a filmmaker who produce films as varied in scope as After Hours, The Long Riders, Southern Comfort and Brewster’s Millions, as well as having a large hand in the Alien series, obviously has more chops than your average second unit action guy.
Extreme Prejudice came out in 1987, the year after 48 Hours and starred Nick Nolte as a tough guy Texan peace officer Jack Benteen, who alongside his buddy sheriff (Rip Torn) is running in drug smugglers as his old boyhood friend Cash (Powers Boothe) sends them across from Mexico. There’s a shared girlfriend (Maria Conchita Alonso) between them as well and, to further complicate matters, a black ops squad are setting up a bank robbery to procure evidence against Cash. The team of ex-soldiers is led by Michael Ironside’s snake eyed Major… whoa! Stop there. Just look at this cast. Nolte, Ironside, Boothe, Torn and you can add to those Clancy Brown and William Forsythe as black ops men. The film has huge testosterone sweat patches and lines which are so much spoken as bitten off and spat out: ‘If you see the Major kill him. Kill him like an animal.’
The set pieces are great even if the plot gets so convoluted at times you get the feeling that no one is actually paying attention any longer. It doesn’t quite have the melancholy poetry of Peckinpah – in fact its Boothe’s doomed king pin who is the most Peckinpah-esque – but a blood bath is inevitable and suitably thorough.
THE RIDICULOUS SIX – SPOILER FREE REVIEW: Want to read a review of the latest Adam Sandler comedy but don’t want the plot spoiled by a load of extraneous detail?
Well, look no further. The Studio Exec offers the EXCLUSIVE Spoiler Free review of The Ridiculous Six, starring Adam Sandler, Nick Nolte and Vanilla Ice, for free.
HOLLYWOOD – Johnny Depp was rushed to hospital last night with a rare case of second puberty.
The Pirates of the Caribbean star was taken ill during dinner when a witness speaking EXCLUSIVELY to the Studio Exec described the scene:
Johnny Depp was talking happily when mid-sentence, his voice broke. It just went up and then down again. It was strange and everyone turned round to see what was going on. And it was then we noticed this weird bum fluff type hair appearing on his chin.
Depp retired for the evening, but later awoke with an intense urge top talk about his feelings and the meanings of Pink Floyd lyrics. He was admitted to hospital with what medics described as an intense case of second puberty.
Physician to the stars, Dr. Hali Tost explained:
Most of us only have one puberty, thank the good Christ, but in rare cases the fully grown or what us doctors call ‘adult’ patient can present with symptoms which are associated with puberty.
My God! What causes it Doc?
Usually, and this is very rare, the syndrome only occurs after a kind of regression back into childhood. There was a case in Australia where a man accidentally got locked in a crèche and when he emerged he had terrible acne and sulked all the time. In the case of Johnny Depp, I imagine it has something to do with him dressing up all the time, like some silly child. Now he’s doing a serious role in Black Mass, playing an actual mature role, his body has caught the signal and is acting like he is just coming of age.
Does this mean he will be young again?
Oh Lord, no! People who go through second puberty always look dreadful. Truly awful. Nick Nolte went through it shortly after Prince of Tides.
Black Mass will be released tomorrow.
HOLLYWOOD – Introducing a new feature in which the Studio Exec asks top Hollywood celebrities what Police Academy film they would take with them if they were stranded on a desert island.
This week’s guest is 48 Hours and Prince of Tides actor, Nick Nolte.
So Nick, which Police Academy film would you take with you onto a desert island?
Well, Exec, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about just this. Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment is for me the top of the whole Academy series.
What makes you say that?
I think with any comedy series, the first film is fresh and vibrant but at the same time there’s a mad clumsiness to the doings. It’s only with the second film that things truly settle and begin to make sense. You can see this happen with Godfather Part Two and the Ghostbusters films. For their second outing, the stars Steve Guttenberg, David Graff and Marion Ramsey have really found their rhythm. They know and fully inhabit their characters. The jokes are more mature and the move out of the academy gives the film wider social relevance.
What else do you like about the film?
Well, if there is one overwhelming argument for my Police Academy desert island choice it has to be the presence of the legendary Bobcat Goldthwaite, who appears for the first time as Zed, the leader of the street gang the Scullions. He lights up the screen, a truly original comic performer. He gives the other academy stalwarts a run for their money and provides the audience with an unforgettable comedy villain.
Police Academy Desert Island will continue next week.
HOLMEFIRTH – Last of the Summer Wine news keeps on coming following the teaser posters for Robert Redford’s new film, issued last week. The latest shows the legendary Nick Nolte in the role of Norman Clegg, a part made famous by Peter Sallis in the original Roy Clarke BBC sitcom.
Nolte – a notoriously difficult actor – was almost kicked off the film when he repeatedly punched Robert Redford during their scenes together. An insider on set told the Studio Exec exclusively:
He said that it was all part of his method but in actual fact Nolte kept laughing every time he did and kept muttering something about hating Downhill Racer. It turned out Nolte had wanted to do a film called Slalom, but the release of Redford’s skiing movie essentially torpedoed Nolte’s project.
Last of the Summer Wine will be released in 2015.
HOLLYWOOD – The first character poster is out for Robert Redford‘s new film Last of the Summer Wine and it looks great.
We reported on the film several months ago (Click HERE), but since then details have been few and far between. But here we see Redford in full glamour mode for his role as Walter ‘Foggy’ Dewhurst, a role made famous by Brian Wilde in the original BBC comedy by Roy Clarke.
Redford, who is joined in the cast by Al Pacino and Nick Nolte, said of the role:
I believe this will be the capping point of my entire career. An actor dreams of a role like Foggy. He is Shakespearean in his complexity, Dickensian in his pomposity and Chekovian in his underlying sadness.
The Last of the Summer Wine will be released in 2016.
WASHINGTON – Veteran screen actor Nick Nolte has donated his face to the Smithsonian Institute to be a permanent exhibit.
Smithsonian director Richard Gervais said that the museum appreciated Nolte’s generosity:
He has a face like Mount Rushmore. It is like one of John Ford’s Monument Valley landscapes and we are very pleased to have it.
His face will be part of a larger exhibition entitled ‘What the F*ck is That?’ which will also include the top of Grace Jones head, Christopher Walken’s eyeballs and Lindsay Lohan’s liver. Gervais says the exhibition would obviously be planned for the distant future ‘when the owners of the exhibits will no longer have use for them’ as Gervais tactfully put it.
A confused Nolte turned up at the Smithsonian this morning ready, as he put it, ‘to get it on.’ Rumors are also rife that Nolte’s head will later be transported to Mount Rushmore well it will ‘beef things up’.
Nick Nolte’s new film A Walk in the Woods will be released in 2015.