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The Deadliest Season is a 1977 American made-for-television sports drama film aired on CBS on March 16, 1977. It was directed by Robert Markowitz, written by Ernest Kilroy and produced by Titus Productions. The film stars Michael Moriarty, Kevin Conway and Meryl Streep.


An average professional ice hockey defenseman is relegated to the minor leagues because his play is not aggressive enough. In an effort to get back to the majors, he plays dirty and gets into fights on the ice, which gets him back to the major. His aggressive play results in the death of another player as a result of injuries sustained during a game, and results in his being charged with manslaughter. The player appears largely indifferent to the situation, appearing to view it as a normal part of playing top level ice hockey.


The Deadliest Season was a 98-minute-long courtroom and sports drama[1] made-for-TV movie that originally aired in the United States on CBS in 1977.[2][3] In Canada, the movie aired in August 1979 on CBC.[4] In Australia, the film first aired in November 1980,[5] and later aired on March 23, 1982 on ATN7.[6] In 1984, it reran in New York on Channel 2.[7] It re-ran on television in Alaska in November 1986.[8]


In The Deadliest Season, Michael Moriarty plays the main character.[4][9] Gerry Miller and Kevin Conway also starred in this film.[6][8] Sully Boyar, Jill Eikenberry, Walter McGinn, Andrew Duggan, Paul D'Amato and Mason Adams also appeared on The Deadliest Season.[5][10] Conway played the attorney who defended Mortiarty's character.[11] Adams' appearance as the team owner in the film helped land him a role in Lou Grant.[10][12]

The film was written by Ernest Kilroy,[13] who had already written several television dramas by that time.[14] It was directed by Robert Markowitz,[15] and produced by Titus Productions.[16] Meryl Streep made her television debut.[15][17][18] She also made her film debut role for Julia in the same year.[19][20] Streep, playing Moriarty's wife, received fifth billing in what was her first role.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hal Erickson (2008). The Deadliest Season. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. Retrieved on October 19, 2012.
  2. (2009) The ultimate book of sports movies : featuring the 100 greatest sports films of all time. Philadelphia: Running Press Book Publishers, 316. ISBN 9780762435487. OCLC 316825645. 
  3. (29 December 2010) Encyclopedia of Sports Films. Scarecrow Press, 509. ISBN 978-0-8108-7652-1. Retrieved on 19 October 2012. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Moriarty stars in hickey film", August 22, 1979, p. 39. Retrieved on October 19, 2012. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Wednesday TV", November 13, 1980, p. 36. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "TUESDAY MARCH 23.", National Library of Australia, 24 March 1982, p. 140. Retrieved on October 19, 2012. 
  7. New York Media, LLC (2 July 1984). "New York Magazine". 185–. New York Media, LLC. ISSN 0028-7369. Retrieved on 19 October 2012. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Movies", November 16, 1986, p. 102. Retrieved on October 19, 2012. 
  9. David Quinlan (November 2000). Quinlan's Film Stars. Batsford, 374. ISBN 978-0-7134-8651-3. Retrieved on 19 October 2012. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Douglass K. Daniel (1996). Lou Grant: The Making of Tv's Top Newspaper Drama. Syracuse University Press, 43–. ISBN 978-0-8156-0363-4. Retrieved on 19 October 2012. 
  11. "Network Sports and Specials", March 12, 1977, p. 11. 
  12. Buck, Jerry. "Knight and Day'; Mason Adams: Looking for Another 'Bad-Guy' Role", August 13, 1989, p. y.05. Retrieved on October 19, 2012. 
  13. "MOViE GUiDE.", National Library of Australia, 24 March 1982, p. 142. Retrieved on 19 October 2012. 
  14. Alvin H. Marill (2009). Sports on television. Praeger. ISBN 978-0-313-35105-1. Retrieved on 19 October 2012. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 Jerry Roberts (15 June 2009). Encyclopedia of Television Film Directors. Scarecrow Press, 366. ISBN 978-0-8108-6138-1. Retrieved on 19 October 2012. 
  16. Steven A. LuKanic (January 1991). Film actors guide. Lone Eagle. ISBN 978-0-943728-38-4. Retrieved on 19 October 2012. 
  17. (1998) "Streep, Meryl Louise (1949-).(Narrative biography)". Encyclopedia of World Biography. Gale. Retrieved on 19 October 2012. 
  18. "IT'S A FACT", Europe Intelligence Wire (Financial Times Ltd), 2012-01-07, <>. Retrieved on 19 October 2012
  19. Liz Sonneborn (1 January 2002). A to Z of American Women in the Performing Arts. Infobase Publishing, 202. ISBN 978-1-4381-0790-5. Retrieved on 19 October 2012. 
  20. (15 June 2001) The Guide to United States Popular Culture. Popular Press, 794. ISBN 978-0-87972-821-2. Retrieved on 19 October 2012. 
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