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Version 3 - Dec 24, 2008 7:58:07 PM

Slap Shot

1977 film starring Paul Newman and Michael Ontkean and directed by George Roy Hill

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 1970s, during which time violence, especially in the low minors, was the selling point of the game.

At the time, Dowd was living in Los Angeles, when she got a call from her brother Ned, a member of the Johnstown Jets hockey team. Her brother gave her the bad news that the team was for sale. Dowd asked her brother who owned the club, and he told her that he had no idea.[1] Dowd would move to the area and be inspired to write Slap Shot. It was filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Johnstown, Pennsylvania (Cambria County War Memorial); and upstate New York (Utica Auditorium and the Onondaga County War Memorial Auditorium in Syracuse).

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, Lily (Lindsay Crouse), has difficulty adjusting to the life of a hockey wife and finds a sympathizer in Reggie Dunlop's long-estranged wife Francine (played by Jennifer Warren).

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 blackmails the team's stingy General Manager Joe McGrath (played by Strother Martin) to tell him who the Chiefs' owner is. After finally meeting the owner (a widow living in a comfy suburb), she reveals to Reggie that she could easily sell the team now that he's turned them into winners, but that she won't, because she can make out better by folding the franchise and taking a tax write-off.

The whole idea turns around in the final playoff game when Reggie reveals to the players that he had been conning them; there is no buyer in Florida, the team is indeed folding, and most are about to play their last game. Reggie tells the players that if this is to be his last hockey game, he wants to go out with dignity and not like a goon. They all vow to play the game clean, going out playing good old-time hockey. However their vicious style of play down the stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs has provoked their final game opponents - the Syracuse Bulldogs - to put together the most infamous set of enforcers to ever disgrace a hockey rink, made up of legendary Federal League brawlers and a dreaded rookie goon, Ogie Ogilthorpe.

The clean playing Chiefs are out-matched and brutally battered by the Syracuse Bulldogs in first period, and in the locker room a furious McGrath tells the losing Chiefs that there are NHL scouts in the stands. The game then quickly degenerates into an on-ice slugfest. Suddenly, Ned Braden, who has been benched by Reggie Dunlop for not wanting to fight, spies his estranged wife Lily in the crowd, who has undergone a complete makeover by Francine and is wearing a sexy new dress and hairdo. He skates out to center ice and strips off his uniform - with the arena band getting into the act by playing "The Stripper". Suddenly, the teams stop fighting and stare in amazement at Braden's striptease. Syracuse captain Tim "Dr Hook" McCracken demands that the referee stop Braden. When the official refuses, McCracken sucker-punches the ref, causing the referee to declare a forfeit by the Bulldogs, giving 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 is revealed during a championship parade in Charlestown the following day that Reggie Dunlop has accepted a job as the coach of a new team, the Minnesota Nighthawks -- and that he intends to bring all his Chief players with him to Minnesota. The film ends on this note, but given Reggie's past lies, viewers are left wondering if the Minnesota job is indeed real, or yet another Dunlop lie.

Genre:  Sports
Release Date:  February 25, 1977
Runtime:  123 minutes
Studio:  Universal Pictures
Media #1 Slap Shot
Slap Shot

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