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The Hanson Brothers revel in some old-time hockey in SLAP SHOT

The Hanson Brothers revel in some good old-time hockey fun in SLAP SHOT

SLAP SHOT (George Roy Hill, 1977)
7 Ludlow St. between Canal & Hester Sts.
Friday, February 3, 1:30 & 7:30

One of the best sports films ever made, Slap Shot is a riotously bloody look at minor-league hockey. Paul Newman — who declared this one of his favorite pictures — stars as Reggie Dunlop, an aging loser serving as player-coach of the Charlestown Chiefs and trying to keep his marriage going with Francine (Jennifer Warren). When the general manager (Strother Martin) tells him that the team is being shut down at the end of the season, Dunlop decides to send it off with a bang. Lying to his team that if the Chiefs fill the seats and start winning they will move to Florida, he incorporates a different style of play into their game, led by the brutal, vicious, and utterly hilarious Hanson brothers (real-life brothers Jeff and Steve Carlson and their Johnstown Jets teammate Dave Hanson), who never met an opponent they wouldn’t punch, trip, slash, spear, or slam face-first into the boards well after the whistle. Even Dunlop gets in on the fun, throwing his share of right hands. The only player not participating in the hijinks is Ned Braden (Michael Ontkean), who believes in sportsmanship and a more gentlemanly game of skill and beauty, not exactly what men like Ogie Oglethorpe (minor-league player Ned Dowd, whose sister, Nancy, wrote the book that the movie is based on, inspired by the real-life antics of the Johnstown Jets) and Tim “Dr. Hook” McCracken (Paul D’Amato) have in mind. You don’t have to be a hockey fan to love Slap Shot, which is really, when it comes right down to it, just a little film about the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Look for cameos by Paul Dooley, M. Emmett Walsh, Melinda Dillon, Nancy Dowd as Andrea, and actual hockey players Bruce Boudreau, Jean Tétreault, Connie Madigan, Cliff Thompson, and Joe Nolan, among others. Slap Shot is screening February 3 in the Metrograph series “Universal in the 70’s: Part One,” a tribute to the decade when the studio took advantage of the growing independent-cinema movement; the two-week, eighteen-film festival continues through February 7 with such other gems as Clint Eastwood’s awesome High Plains Drifter, Alfred Hitchcock’s Family Plot, Jeremy Kagan’s The Big Fix, and Don Siegel’s underseen Charley Varrick.

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