4.9/10
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5 user 5 critic

The Sporting Club (1971)

The new groundskeeper at the Centennial Sporting Club decides to do something about the very odd goings-on there.

Director:

Larry Peerce

Writers:

Thomas McGuane (novel), Lorenzo Semple Jr. (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Fields Robert Fields ... Vernur Stanton
Nicolas Coster ... James Quinn
Margaret Blye ... Janey
Jack Warden ... Earl Olive
Richard Dysart ... Spengler
William Roerick William Roerick ... Fortesque
Logan Ramsey ... Scott
Leon B. Stevens Leon B. Stevens ... Olds
John Seymour John Seymour ... Newcombe
Helen Craig Helen Craig ... Mrs. Olds
Diane Rousseau Diane Rousseau ... Barbara
Lois Markle Lois Markle ... Sheilah
James Noble ... Canon Pritchard
Ralph Puroum Ralph Puroum ... Murray
Ralph Waite ... Olson
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Storyline

The new groundskeeper at the Centennial Sporting Club decides to do something about the very odd goings-on there.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Dearest children of the 20th century, do you take such pleasures as your ancestors? See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Sport

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 February 1971 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lorimar Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Larry Peerce wanted Jack Nicholson for the role of Stanton. See more »

Connections

Referenced in No Small Parts: Anne Ramsey (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Flawed but fascinating New Hollywood era drama from writer Thos. McGuane
2 July 2007 | by sos12See all my reviews

God bless the New Hollywood era of the late 1960's and early 1970's: it seems to be a bottomless well of offbeat (and often criminally overlooked) gems like Frank Perry's PLAY IT AS IT LAYS, Bill Norton's CISCO PIKE, Noel Black's PRETTY POISON -- and even the flawed but still-fascinating THE SPORTING CLUB. This was the first of several films based on the novels of (or screenwritten by) author Thomas McGuane, followed by the wonderful pot-addled western RANCHO DELUXE and the equally-good 92 IN THE SHADE with Peter Fonda and Warren Oates. THE SPORTING CLUB sadly isn't quite as good as these two, but it's still pretty interesting in its own right. The plot revolves around a woodsy retreat for wealthy sportsmen (and women) called The Centennial Club where they gather sporadically to drink heavily and congratulate themselves on being so rich. James Quinn (played by Nicolas Coaster in a fine, understated performance) is a soon-to-be-broke member of this fraternity whose one close connection is with his former college buddy Verner Stanton (Robert Fields), who has a dangerous obsession with dueling pistols, and Verner's girlfriend (Margaret Blye). There are some parallels here with DELIVERANCE (which came a year later): both movies feature heavily-armed businessmen trying to find themselves out in the woods, although SPORTING CLUB is much more satirical. The movie achieves a kind of cock-eyed brilliance when Jack Warden arrives, playing a boozey former bait-shop owner whose been picked as the Club's new groundskeeper. His performance suggests something that's been stewing in grain alcohol for a bit too long and captures the off-center flavor and rhythms of McGuane's writing better than almost anything else in the film. (It also strangely reminds me of Burl Ives's great performance as a grizzled swamp poacher in Nicholas Ray's WIND ACROSS THE EVERGLADES.) Warden's final anarchic act of payback against the Club members is truly classic. Director Larry Peerce's early 1970's career included some fine dramas such as "Goodbye Columbus," "A Separate Peace" and "Ash Wednesday" and deserves re-appreciation. One of the best sequences here comes early in the film when Fields and his friends hijack and destroy a bus during a Presidential appearance at the local dam; the sight of two wealthy capitalists literally trashing their own Establishment is the kind of contradiction that makes McGuane's writing so memorable. To be honest, the film is far from perfect -- the plot tends to meander too much and lose focus, and if anything, the movie feels a bit too consciously "literary" -- but its definitely worth checking out especially if you're a fan of early 1970's New Hollywood films. Note: although it doesn't seem to be listed on Amazon.com, there is a late 1980's video release of the film on Charter Entertainment so it's available if you can find it.


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