CANNON MONTH 2: Face-Off (1971)

Also titled Winter Comes Early — the name of the band in the movie — this George McCowan (FrogsThe Shape of Things to Come)-written and George Robertson-written film — based on writing by Neil Young’s sportswriter dad Scott — has Art Hindle as Billy Duke, a hockey player who becomes an overnight sensation playing with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He’s also dating a singer named Sherry Nelson (Trudy Young) who hates all the violence of hockey. That won’t do for his coach Fred Wares (John Vernon), who wants to break up the young couple so Billy can focus on playing hockey. As for Sherry, her former love and bandmate Barney (Frank Moore) is trying to win her back but drugs seem to be really winning her heart.

This is a great opportunity to see 70s NHL hockey with players like Bobby Orr, Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Derek Sanderson, George “Chief” Armstrong, Darryl Sittler, Ron Ellis, Rick Ley, Paul Henderson, Bobby Baun and more showing up on the ice.

2 thoughts on “CANNON MONTH 2: Face-Off (1971)

  1. This is one of my favorite Canadian films of all-time. It has every trope you can imagine from early 70s Canuck cinema: snow, hockey, Yonge Street in the big city of T’ranna, waterbeds, folk music, Art Hindle, John Vernon as “The Coach,” and a washed-out look like they struck the prints from a shitty inter-positive instead of the original negative. For years, I’ve treasured the memory of seeing this–a film unknown in the lower 48–along with some other lost Canuck classics like Dr. Frankenstein on Campus and Bayo on the long gone but never-to-be-forgotten Trio satellite network. SCTV did an incredible spoof of this with John Candy as Billy, the callow youth from Missassauga or whatever backwater town it was supposed to be in Face Off. It was hilarious–and a hilariously accurate parody of this famous slice of Canadiana.

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