North Dallas Forty [1979]

A very savvy, 1978 film directed by Ted Kotcheff (First Blood) dealing with the seamier side of professional football. Phillip Elliott and Maxwell (Nick Nolte and Mac Davis, respectively) are players for a Texas football team loosely based on the championship Dallas Cowboys. Though at the peak of his football career, Elliott is a personal and physical mess, needing all manner of drugs prescribed by the team physician to play and even to move around. The indifference of the team management and the hypocritical stance toward recreational drug use versus the drug abuse practiced by the players leads to a crisis of conscience for Nolte. The combination of Nolte's volatile presence and Davis's understated performance as the quarterback who thinks he's seen it all helps make North Dallas Forty one of the best sports films around. --Robert Lane

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