From the opening scene, North Dallas Forty makes its intentions clear in showing battered wide receiver Phillip Elliott struggling to merely get out of bed and take a shower. Ted Kotcheff's North Dallas Forty is a rather scathing commentary on pro football, exposing that football isn't so much a game but a business in which money and winning are more important than the health of the individual players. The story revolves around the aforementioned Phillip Elliott, whose better years are behind him, as he rides the bench dealing with multiple leg injuries that have even hampered his ability to walk. His cynicism and independent nature are viewed as troubling by his coaches, who encourage the players to give their all for the sake of the team. Given the time period of this films release, North Dallas Forty was a rather provocative subject matter that exposed the brutality of the sport during a time period where safety and medicine were not nearly as advanced. North Dallas Forty is enamored with the amount of sacrifice and pain these athletes endure for the sake of entertainment, going into great detail to show the pain-killers, shots, and rehab necessary. North Dallas Forty's biggest flaw lies in some of its generalizations, with many of the football players, outside of Nolte's Phillip Elliott, being walking caricatures of the stereotypical jock instead of fleshed out human beings. While North Dallas Forty isn't a perfect film it's one of the better football films every made, reminding the viewer that like any sport, football is as much about the money as the entertainment and thrill of competition.
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