Pinball Poster
The story of Roger Sharpe, GQ journalist and real-life pinball wizard who in 1976 helped overturn New York City’s 35-year ban on pinball.


An unsettled writer with a fantastic mustache, ROGER SHARPE, finds solace and confidence in one thing he has mastered: pinball. When a police raid destroys the only machines he can find in 1970s New York City, he learns the game is illegal. Roger reluctantly joins forces with the Music and Amusement Association to overturn the ban while falling in love with ELLEN, an artist and single mother. Roger’s path to save pinball ultimately rescues him. He and Ellen overcome their pasts and take a shot at love. Roger learns what it means to take a chance—and that commitment is the most rewarding gamble of all. Based on a true story.

  • Mike Faist

  • Crystal Reed

  • Dennis Boutsikaris

  • The Bragg Brothers


  • Rob Pfaltzgraff, p.g.a.


  • Lana Link


  • Stacey Parks


  • Summer Crockett Moore


  • Tony Glazer


  • Roger C. Sharpe

    Executive Producer

  • Nick Reid

    Executive Producer

A Ban? On Pinball?!

In the 1940s, pinball was outlawed by New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia who claimed the game was one of chance, not skill, and thus a form of gambling. La Guardia made the ban a top priority for the New York Police Department, instructing officers to undertake prohibition-style raids and dump thousands of the offending machines into the Hudson River. Most major cities across the country also outlawed the game including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Thanks to the efforts of GQ journalist and pinball wizard Roger Sharpe, the New York City ban was lifted in 1976 with Kokomo, Indiana the last to legalize the game in 2016.


Profile picture for Mike Faist

Mike Faist

Roger Sharpe

Profile picture for Crystal Reed

Crystal Reed


Profile picture for Dennis Boutsikaris

Dennis Boutsikaris

Mr. Sharpe


Profile picture for The Bragg Brothers

The Bragg Brothers


Profile picture for Rob Pfaltzgraff, p.g.a.

Rob Pfaltzgraff, p.g.a.


Profile picture for Lana Link

Lana Link


Profile picture for Stacey Parks

Stacey Parks


Profile picture for Summer Crockett Moore

Summer Crockett Moore


Profile picture for Tony Glazer

Tony Glazer


Profile picture for Roger C. Sharpe

Roger C. Sharpe

Executive Producer

Profile picture for Nick Reid

Nick Reid

Executive Producer

Director's Statement

It started as a simple, quirky historical footnote: a long-haired, impressively mustachioed twentysomething “saves pinball” by calling his shot in front of a handful of crusty, skeptical politicians. By proving it’s a game of skill, Roger Sharpe helped lift a ban on pinball that had been on the books for 35 years in New York City.

Like a cross between Babe Ruth and Moses, Roger set pinball free.

But after talking with Roger for hours, we came to understand a deeper story that had yet to be told. Roger may have saved pinball, but the path he took to get there ultimately rescued him. At its core, this is a coming-of-age story about the value of taking chances and how commitment can be the most rewarding gamble of all.

As Roger says, “Life is defined by risk: those you take and those you don’t. The ball is gonna drain no matter what, so find what you want and take a shot.”

And, be honest—that mustache is fantastic.