Calling George McCowan’s 1971 love story, “Face Off”, “second only to ‘Slap Shot’ as a classic hockey movie,”, the Globe & Mail’s David Shoalts herald’s the film’s reissue on DVD and Blu-Ray next month by also pronouncing it “nothing short of awful”. Sheesh, make up your mind!
Face Off is based on the equally hackneyed Scott Young novel and spares no cliché in telling the tale of a boy from Northern Ontario who grows up to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He falls for a hippie folk singer with tragic consequences when the hockey world collides with the psychedelic music world of the late 1960s-70s.
Face-Off stars Art Hindle and Trudy Young as star-crossed lovers Billy Duke and Sherri Lee Nelson. As Leafs coach Fred Wares, John Vernon steals many a scene with a preview of his Dean Wormer character in 1978’s Animal House. But the real stars are the dozens of players seen during actual NHL games along with footage from Toronto circa 1971 and, of course, the most hideous clothes ever made.
Most of the fun is picking out the various NHL players of the day aside from the big stars like Dave Keon, Jean Béliveau, Gordie Howe and a balding Bobby Hull. There are also a couple of sequences of Bobby Orr in his glorious prime. Keep an eye out for an impossibly young-looking Darryl Sittler. Leaf great George Armstrong had a speaking role and was not bad. The old NHL bad boy Derek Sanderson also did a nice turn as himself, the hip hockey star.