Face-Off (1971 film)

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For the 1997 film, see Face/Off.
Directed by George McCowan
Produced by John F. Bassett
Written by George Robertson
Starring Art Hindle
Trudy Young
John Vernon
Music by Ron Collier
Edited by Kirk Jones
Agincourt International
Release date
  • 12 November 1971 (1971-11-12) (Toronto)[1]
Running time
105 minutes[2]
Country Canada
Language English
Budget $600,000[3]
Box office $600,000[4]

Face-Off is a 1971 Canadian feature film produced by John F. Bassett starring Art Hindle, Trudy Young and John Vernon. The story line concerns a rookie Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey player and his romance with a musician. Several National Hockey League players also appeared in the film.


Hockey player Billy Duke (Art Hindle) joins the Toronto Maple Leafs, and must adapt to the major league with assistance from his room-mate (George Armstrong, a Leafs player portraying himself). Meanwhile, Duke is involved in a relationship with rock singer Sherri Lee Nelson (Trudy Young) who objects to Duke's often rough hockey playing.


National Hockey League players such as George Armstrong, Paul Henderson and Darryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs appeared in Face-Off as did sports commentators such as George Gross and Scott Young. Leafs owner Harold Ballard also appeared as a doctor for the on-screen Leafs.[5] Players from other NHL teams also made appearances in the film such as Jean Beliveau, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull and Derek Sanderson.[1]


The film was produced by Basset's Agincourt International studio and was financially supported by the Canadian Film Development Corporation.[4][6]

Product placements, besides the presence of the Toronto Maple Leafs brand, included visible use of Molson brand beer and scenes filmed at Eaton's and the Inn on the Park hotel.[7]


The film's debut was in Toronto on 12 November 1971 and released the following week throughout Canada at 20 theatres which was then the widest distribution of a Canadian feature film.[3]


The film generally received negative reviews. Martin Knelman of The Globe and Mail found the production "downright head-clutchingly terrible."[8] Regina's Leader-Post cited "terrible acting and inane dialogue".[7] Dave Billington of The Gazette (Montreal) also panned the production noting that "most of the ingredients of a good film were there and they were sacrificed to box office expediency."[9] The Windsor Star was also critical noting such deficiences as "a sluggish pace and fumbling character development."[10]

Face-Off grossed $600,000 at the box office by early 1973. Although a substantial box office income for a Canadian film, the Canadian Film Development Corporation did not expect to fully recoup its investment unless the film earned twice that amount.[4]

Upon the 2011 DVD release of Face-Off, Sun Media's Bruce Kirkland acknowledged the "cheesy" production but noted the historic value of filmed scenes which included professional hockey players which he deemed of superior quality compared to the "crappy TV archives" of NHL footage of that time.[11]

Video release[edit]

Face-Off was restored from an extant 35 mm print and released in Blu-ray format by Video Services Corp on 15 November 2011.[12] Only 10,000 discs were produced, due to complications in obtaining permission from the NHL for the hockey footage used in the film.[1] The DVD release includes the Second City Television parody of the film, "Power Play", which featured John Candy as Billy.[11][13]


  1. ^ a b c The Canadian Press (1 November 2011). "Restored version of 'Face Off' searches for new audience on DVD/Blu-ray". The Hockey News. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "Face-Off". Canadian Feature Film Database. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Shields, Roy (13 November 1971). "All-Canadian movie". The Gazette. Montreal. p. 46. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "C.F.D.C. Annual Report". Cinema Canada (6): 36. February–March 1973. Retrieved 14 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Hornby, Lance (20 June 2008). "Hollywood speaks on root of Leafs' problems". Sun Media. Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Pratley, Gerald (1987). Torn sprockets: the uncertain projection of the Canadian film. University of Delaware Press. ISBN 9780874131949. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Hunter, Nick (25 November 1971). "Face-off: it could have been good". Leader-Post. Regina. p. 5. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  8. ^ Knelman, Martin (13 November 1971). "Face-Off: all-Canadian mediocrity puts all the cliches on ice". The Globe and Mail. p. 29. 
  9. ^ Billington, Dave (20 November 1971). "Face-off fair sports movie - disastrous as a love story". The Gazette. Montreal. p. 42. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Laycock, John (20 November 1971). "Face-Off misses goal". Windsor Star. p. 39. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Kirkland, Bruce (3 December 2011). "Turning back time in your tv room". Brantford Expositor. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  12. ^ Perry, Danielle (11 November 2011). "CanCon classic Face-Off gets Blu-ray/DVD release 40 years later". National Post. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  13. ^ Wilner, Norman (14 November 2011). "DVD Drop: Throw wide the vault doors". Retrieved 30 March 2012. 

External links[edit]