HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Days of the Bagnold Summer
Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975, The
Apartment 1BR
1776
Parasite
Looking On the Bright Side
Take Me Somewhere Nice
Simon
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Angelfish
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Convoy
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Rabid
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Ema
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Demonwarp
   
 
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
   
 
  Downhill Racer Serious Snow
Year: 1969
Director: Michael Ritchie
Stars: Robert Redford, Gene Hackman, Camilla Sparv, Karl Michael Vogler, Jim McMullan, Kathleen Crowley, Dabney Coleman, Kenneth Kirk, Oren Stevens, Jerry Dexter, Walter Stroud, Carole Carle, Rip McManus, Joe J. Jalbert, Tom J. Kirk, Robin Hutton-Potts
Genre: Drama, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: David Chappellet (Robert Redford) is a promising young skier whose career is going nowhere until he receives a call telling him to get on an aeroplane to Europe, the Alps, and prepare to join the official American team. This is because just as the team were preparing to compete in an important competition, one of their number was involved in an accident while skiing and has been incapacitated through injury. This is the chance you take in this sport, and David is all too aware of that, yet is still put out when the position he takes in his first race with the national team is so far down the running order that he's surprised he does as well as he did. But he's still hard to read...

One of the sparest sporting movies ever made, Downhill Racer was devised by its director Michael Ritchie as ostensibly an adaptation of a book by Oakley Hall, yet he was reluctant to be tied to the page, so after a lot of research for his first movie as director (he was experienced in television, a sign of the times), the results were effectively made up while they were filming. This served to offer an immediacy to what we saw, and many remarked on the quasi-documentary feel to the story, which may have hit various notes you would expect to see in this genre - the wins, the losses, the romance, the rivalries, you know the sort of thing - they were not presented as paramount.

What was paramount was putting on the skis and seeing if you could get the best time on the slopes, and these sequences were the best in the movie, the fact that it showed Redford giving way to his stuntmen quite often notwithstanding. That was down to his carefully pitched performance that gave as little away as possible: Chappellet was a winner in his mind, but what else was going on in there could be a mystery, as he appeared to live to compete and the clues we were offered to his background, what had shaped his personality, were doled out piecemeal. Don't mistake his stylings here as wooden, however, he was a believable character no matter what was happening around him.

Indeed, as sport is often populated by folks who are so driven that they neglect anything but the sport itself, Redford's reserved but somehow unlikeable approach was perhaps one of the most authentic portrayals of a sportsperson from the long history of such movies. Not that there was a plethora of skiing films to choose from, as while this was more or less standing alone in its field, the way in which it said what it had to convey meant there did not seem to be much point in adding to it. Maybe, also, it was the issue that American skiers did not traditionally do as well in major championships as Europeans that put Hollywood off: there are a few scenes here where the coach (Gene Hackman, an interesting match with Redford) complains that America is the richest country in the world but they are reluctant to fund his sport.

But really, there was a lot of reading between the lines to be done with Downhill Racer, so withdrawn was it in mood. The regulation romance took in two women for David, first his high school sweetheart (one hit wonder Carole Carle) who he goes back home to meet, yet we cannot tell if he has any feelings for her or simply wanted an easy conquest before resuming his career, and socialite Camilla Sparv, a Swedish actress who great things were expected of when she married super-producer Robert Evans, then she divorced him and she ended up in TV before retiring. David may fall for his woman, but she lets him down emotionally by treating him like an accessory, bringing his full concentration back to the slopes. This had a curious, almost standoffish tone, that was surprisingly compelling as you had to meet it halfway to get anything out of it; should you be compliant, there was nothing quite like it outside of documentary as far as sporting films went, and that ending was slyly powerful. Music by Kenyon Hopkins.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 480 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Michael Ritchie  (1938 - 2001)

American director, from television, whose films of the 1970s showed an interesting, sardonic take on America. After sour skiing drama Downhill Racer, he had an unhappy experience on the bizarre Prime Cut before a run of acclaimed movies: political satire The Candidate, the excellent Smile, coarse comedy The Bad News Bears, and another sporting comedy Semi-Tough.

Moving into the 1980s, Ritchie lost his edge with such lukewarm efforts as The Island, underwhelming comedy The Survivors, the not bad Fletch and its very bad sequel, Eddie Murphy vehicle The Golden Child and The Couch Trip, but he made a brief return to form in the early 1990s with boxing comedy Diggstown.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: