Saturday, January 19, 2008

North Dallas Forty, by Peter Gent

(pb; 1973)

From the back cover:

"Eight days in the life of a pro-football player. Eight days of savagery, pain, drugs, drinking, laughter and raunchy sex, and haunting love between a man and a woman... Eight days that take you into the heart of a man, a team, a sport, a game and the raw power and violence that is America itself. The author, Peter Gent, former offensive for the Dallas Cowboys, has emerged as an astounding writing talent."


Laugh out loud funny in some parts, sad in others, this dark comedy is a roller-coaster ride of Dantean proportions. It's not just another football book: it's a written-from-the-gut, inside look at a sport and a country that's troubling, compromised (by power-brokers, money men and players alike) and often admirable.

The ending is one of the most shocking I've ever read. I still get upset when I think about it, all the while applauding Gent's galvanizing finish.

By all means, check it out. Avoid the lackluster book sequel, North Dallas After Forty, which posssessed none of the power and realism of the original novel.

The film version was released stateside on August 3, 1979.

Nick Nolte played Phillip Elliott. Mac Davis played Seth Maxwell. Charles Durning played Coach Johnson. Dayle Haddon played Charlotte Caulder. Bo Svenson played Jo Bob Priddy. John Matuszak played O.W. Shaddock. Dabney Coleman played Emmett Hunter.

Ted Kotcheff directed the film, from a script by Peter Gent, Nancy Dowd (uncredited) and Rich Eustis.

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