Rollerball

Year: 1975

Production: United Artists

Director: Norman Jewison

Starring: James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck

Screenwriter: William Harrison

Based on Rollerball Murders (1973) by William Harrison

124 minutes; Color


That one man who stands tall and proud can topple a corrupt system by his example is the moral of this sluggish big-budget movie. In a future run by corporations, ordinary citizens are (implausibly) kept happy by a brutal gladiatorial spectator "sport" played on rollerskates and motorcycles, and, to keep the proletariat in their place, designed as an allegory of the futility of individual effort. Caan plays the team leader who proves the bosses wrong by winning, even when they progressively break all the rules to try to kill him. It has the theme but none of the verve, or even the convincing violence, of an exploitation movie; the high moral tone of the script (and the classical music on the soundtrack) are ludicrously at odds with the film's fundamental (but incompetent) voyeurism.

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