Paul Newman starred as Reggie Dunlop, the middle-aged player/coach of a fourth-rate minor league team (the Charlestown Chiefs), which suddenly becomes popular by playing dirty, in this exhilarating comedy that probed the violence of professional ice hockey.
Second-billed Michael Ontkean played the role of a Princeton graduate who, instead of indulging in violence along with the Hanson Brothers (three goons played by Steve Carlson, Jeff Carlson and Dave Hanson), helps win the final game by performing a striptease – to the outrage of the opposing team and the entertainment of the punters.
Denis the goalie (Yvon Barrette) is a French-Canadian who speaks in hilarious broken English and claims to be allergic to the fans.
The film also featured the wives and girlfriends whose sorry lot it was to sit at home and wait (some did, some didn’t!).
They were represented by Lindsay Crouse, Jennifer Warren and Melinda Dillon.
Newman’s role is one of his best performances, multifaceted and complex. He is a manipulative, romantic, womanising, workaholic leader and father figure.
His two motivations – to win back his wife (Jennifer Warren) who is about to divorce him and to keep the team afloat – are almost in direct opposition to each other.
To make matters worse, his character’s instincts are often at odds with both goals . . .
Scenes are terribly realistic, the dialogue is memorable and – except for the fights on the ice – the comedy is never less than sublime. There’s excellent slapstick humour to be sure, but there are also some great lines that fans of the movie will probably repeat forever.
This may be one of the best ‘guy films’ ever made. It is crude, vulgar, scatological and authentic – and all written by a woman (Nancy Dowd).
The story is based on the North American Hockey League’s Johnstown Jets who were at one point coached by Steve Carlson (who plays Steve Hanson in the movie).
Paul Newman repeatedly called Slap Shot one of his best efforts and, in interviews over the years, he maintained that it was one of his favourite films to work on.
The film is well dosed with locker-room humour and plenty of expletives. That’s hockey.
Dave ‘Killer’ Carlson
Morris ‘Mo’ Wanchuk
M. Emmet Walsh
Tim ‘Dr. Hook’ McCracken
Ronald L. Docken
Jean Rosario Tetreault
Nancy N. Dowd
Barbara L. Shorts
George Roy Hill