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      PG 1979 2h 0m Romance List
      14% Tomatometer 7 Reviews 33% Audience Score 50+ Ratings Flashbacks show how a tennis bum (Dean-Paul Martin) got to Wimbledon inspired by his affair with a tycoon's (Maximilian Schell) jet-set mistress (Ali MacGraw). Read More Read Less

      Critics Reviews

      View All (7) Critics Reviews
      David Pirie Time Out The soapy plot is so incredibly old-fashioned that it might be forgiven if the script didn't keep hitting so many lines straight into the net. Jun 22, 2020 Full Review Variety Staff Variety Another love story in disguise, this time backgrounded against the tennis world, Players is disqualified by exec producer Arnold Schulman's wobbly script, a simpering performance by Ali MacGraw, and a preponderance of tennis footage. Mar 26, 2009 Full Review Vincent Canby New York Times It's pretty and painless and immediately forgettable. May 9, 2005 Full Review Eddie Harrison …the same basic idea as Challengers; one long match interspersed with ‘how we got here’ romantic flashbacks…...a mis-hit... Rated: 2/5 Apr 19, 2024 Full Review Stephen Farber New West/California I don't think I've ever seen a film in which so much time is spent on irrelevant actions. Nov 3, 2021 Full Review Quentin Tarantino The New Beverly [Players'] best moments are Dean Paul Martin training with his coach, real life tennis giant Poncho Gonzales (playing himself), including a must in a sports movie, a great training montage. Jun 22, 2020 Full Review Read all reviews

      Audience Reviews

      View All (4) audience reviews
      Audience Member Players was a miserable flop upon its release in 1979. Not only did it bomb with critics and audiences, but it also tanked at the box office, and it has disappeared into such obscurity that you can't even buy it on DVD (I had to track down an old VHS copy, because yes, I still watch films on VHS every now and then. The VHS copy I have is also fairly old, dating back to 1985). Even its production was mired in problems. The film was supposed to help jump start Ali MacGraw's acting career, which had been sidelined from 1973 to 1978 because of her marriage to Steve McQueen, and the film's producer, Robert Evans (who was previously married to MacGraw), hoped that this film would rekindle his relationship with MacGraw to no avail. It was also at the tail-end of his high-profile producing career at Paramount before the 80's would take a hell of a toll on his career with numerous scandals (Drug busts and the Cotton Club murder). There was also plenty of other talent behind the production, including actual tennis stars being featured, segments actually being filmed at the famed Wimbledon, its director was Anthony Harvey (The Lion in Winter), and it had music composed by legendary composer, Jerry Goldsmith (The Secret of NIMH, Alien, Chinatown, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Basic Instinct, The Ghost and the Darkness). Needless to say, things did not go according to plan with this intended hybrid of 70's mega hits, Love Story (1970) and Rocky (1976) but with tennis. It bombed and has virtually vanished from existence for most people. Even among the few who remember it, it is not fondly looked upon with the few praises being given to Jerry Goldsmith's absolutely outstanding score (I'm even listening to the score as I write this review. It's fucking amazing) and the performance by tennis star, Pancho Gonzalez. Other than that, it is mostly bashed for being melodramatic pulp with hammy acting. That being said, I must admit that I am not only one of the few people on Earth who has actually watched this film, but I am also one of its only fans. I absolutely adore Players. The story follows a man named Chris, a young and attractive tennis player, who along with his friend, Rusty, are hustlers in amateur tennis circuits. While driving through Mexico, the two meet an older attractive woman named Nicole who rebuffs them at a gas station, but they later encounter her again when she nearly crashes head on into a truck and drives off the road. Chris then rescues her from the car which starts smoking and then explodes not long after her rescue (It might seem hokey for some viewers, but cars back in the olden days were deathtraps). After some chitchat at a dealership where Nicole buys a new car, she wants Chris to meet with her to thank him for saving her life. She confides during their meeting that it's her birthday and Chris begins flirting with her to no avail as she is already involved with another man - a European millionaire who mostly does his business in a yacht near Madrid. The two part ways so Chris can go participate in a tennis tournament, which lands him and his friend Rusty in the hospital because of a bet that Rusty made to hustle money from a man in the audience, resulting Chris receiving a serious hand injury while brawling with the conned man and his friends. While he recovers from his injury, Nicole has Chris stay with her at her luxurious home. Soon, the two begin an intense love affair and Nicole encourages Chris to pursue a true career in tennis, rather than just being a hustler. The story follows their tumultuous relationship as Chris becomes a rising star in the tennis world and Nicole tries to decide between Chris and her fiance. Yes, I'll admit that the story is melodramatic and follows just about every beat you can imagine. You know where it will go and very little if anything about it will come as a surprise. That being said, I still found myself invested and giving a damn about what was going on. I cared about their troubled relationship, how Chris wanted to better himself and make something out of his childhood dreams of playing tennis after seeing Pancho Gonzalez's win in 1968, how Nicole comes to discover things about herself and what she really wants. No matter how cliched or melodramatic it was, I was still fully hooked. But it wasn't just the romance that hooked me, but even as someone who has never particularly been into sports, I found the look into the tennis world quite fascinating as Chris rises through the ranks under the training of Pancho Gonzalez. It basically contains the exciting parts of sports without all the boring downtime that drives me away from watching such events. I not only got a wonderful romance, but also an exciting sports film to boot. The acting has also received a great deal of critical flagellation. Ali MacGraw was seen as being lifeless while Dean Paul Martin was seen more as a hunk with mild tennis playing attributes as opposed to being an actor. I disagree with such assessments, as you can already guess. Ali MacGraw was not only foxy and determined, but she also displayed vulnerability as Chris forces her to confront her own flaws and who she wants to be as a person. I felt her struggles and I also loved her back and forth banter with Martin. She was playful and hotheaded as well as being encouraging and deprecating. I loved watching her on the screen and her chemistry with Martin. Dean Paul Martin also gave a terrific performance. He was cocky and arrogant, but also displayed a knack for reading people and who they were. I thought he fit the part perfectly, and much like MacGraw was quite good at their back and forth banter which covered a wide range of emotions as any relationship is bound to have. He, too, is forced to confront his own flaws and how he wastes his talents as Nicole helps to better him as a person. I must also give a shout out to the one praised performance in the film: Pancho Gonzalez - an actual tennis star. I never knew his name before this film (Again, I'm not really a sports fan) and according to brief research only had one other acting credit to his name (Not counting television appearances on talk shows). He may not have been an actor per say in the traditional film sense, but by God, that man had damn good comedic talent and screen presence as Chris' mentor and trainer in the film. He should have been in more films! He was absolutely hilarious and brought endless joy whenever he was on the screen, chewing Chris out for being lazy or providing grizzled encouragement to him. He did an absolutely fantastic job in the role. Players is a criminally underrated romantic sports drama. I thought the film had an engaging story, terrific acting, thrilling sports segments that are nail-biting, and a superb, masterful score by Jerry Goldsmith (Which, admittedly, did help bolster the melodrama to a higher caliber). I adored this film and will probably remain one of its only fans, but by God, I adored my time with it and will cherish it. Who knows? Maybe I'll be able to convince a few people to watch it with me and like it, too. If you ever somehow catch it, I encourage you to at least give it a try. After all, if you've somehow ended up on this page for a long-forgotten film, something must have brought you here. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/26/23 Full Review James C Although the cover art pictured here is not from the Ali MacGraw/Dean Paul Martin tennis romance from 1979-I would like to say that the film depicts very realistic sports scenes interspersed throughout its love story about an older "kept" woman who falls for a young tennis hustler. The musical score alone is reason enough to watch this forgotten 1979 gem. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 08/05/13 Full Review Audience Member I'm not really sure of why this is a movie. Still, I've seen worse. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 02/22/23 Full Review Audience Member This was a very slow moving film. I couldn't keep my full attention on the movie. Skip it. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 01/15/23 Full Review Read all reviews

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      Cast & Crew

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      Movie Info

      Synopsis Flashbacks show how a tennis bum (Dean-Paul Martin) got to Wimbledon inspired by his affair with a tycoon's (Maximilian Schell) jet-set mistress (Ali MacGraw).
      Anthony Harvey
      Robert Evans
      Tommy Cook
      Production Co
      Paramount Pictures
      Original Language
      2h 0m