HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Captor, The
Hide in Plain Sight
Wildlife
X2
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese
Heiress, The
Cold Pursuit
Firestorm
Dogs of War, The
Holy Mountain, The
Piercing
Under Fire
Jennifer on My Mind
People on Sunday
Lethal Weapon 4
Downhill Racer
Emily
Odette
Escape Room
Across the Pacific
Madeline's Madeline
You're Gonna Miss Me
Iron Sky: The Coming Race
Derby
Mortal Engines
Union City
Knife+Heart
Little Stranger, The
Sauvage
Watermelon Man
Wandering Earth, The
Good Fairy, The
Killer Party
Holmes & Watson
Monster in the Closet
Sand, The
Glass
My Brilliant Career
Knife for the Ladies, A
Man in the Attic
   
 
Newest Articles
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
Tucked: The Derren Nesbitt Interview
Locomotion Pictures: The Best of British Transport Films on Blu-ray
Roman Scandals: Extreme Visions from Ancient Rome
Spider-Wrong and Spider-Right: The Dragon's Challenge and Into the Spider-Verse
Monster Dog: Cujo on Blu-ray
For Christ's Sake: Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ
Not In Front of the Children: Inappropriate Kids Movies
Deeper into Ozploitation: Next of Kin and Fair Game
Between the Wars: Babylon Berlin Series 1&2 on DVD
Hard Luck Story: Detour on Blu-ray
Oh, What Happened to You? The Likely Lads on Blu-ray
Killer Apps: The Rise of the Evil 60s Supercomputers
   
 
  Downhill Racer Serious SnowBuy this film here.
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, Action
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 56 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 do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Rachel Franke
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Paul Shrimpton
Darren Jones
George White
   

 

Last Updated: