6.5/10
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38 user 35 critic

Downhill Racer (1969)

Quietly cocky Robert Redford joins U.S. ski team as downhill racer and clashes with the team's coach, played by Gene Hackman. Lots of good skiing action leading to an exciting climax.

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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Claire
...
Carole
Karl Michael Vogler ...
Machet
...
Creech
...
Reporter
...
Mayo
Kenneth Kirk ...
D.K.
Oren Stevens ...
Kipsmith
Jerry Dexter ...
Engel
Walter Stroud ...
Mr. Chappellet
Carole Carle ...
Lena
Rip McManus ...
Devore
Joe Jay Jalbert ...
Tommy Erb
Tom J. Kirk ...
Stiles
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Storyline

David Chappellet is a mean-spirited skier, who profits from another skier's injury to gain a spot on the American Olympic team. His roommate sums up his goals when he observes of David, "He's not for the team, and he never will be"; but precisely who the David is that David is so fiendishly striving for we're never to learn. He develops a short-lived relationship with Carole Stahl, a glamorous European woman even more capricious than himself. Chappellet's identity trouble are exacerbated by the fact that he is an "Event" as well as a personality; and more astute minds than his own have difficulty where the one leaves off and the other takes over. Director Michael Richie's ("The Candidate") feature film debut. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

How fast must a man go to get from where he's at?

Genres:

Drama | Sport

Certificate:

M | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

9 January 1970 (Canada)  »

Also Known As:

La descente infernale  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,600,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Natalie Wood's then husband, Richard Gregson, was one head producer on this picture. She was also a good friend and former high school classmate of co-star Robert Redford. She provided hair styles for some of the actors, provided wardrobe styles for some of the stars, and was a visible presence on the European locations for the film. See more »

Goofs

On Dave's Olympic run he has black skis at the starting gate and alternating red and black skis while on the course. See more »

Quotes

Claire: [Making some public appearances before various business groups in an effort to garner financial support for the U.S. ski team] The Europeans simply can't understand why... this country doesn't turn out the world's greatest ski teams. And I'm ashamed to tell 'em the truth. We have the mountains, we have the men, we have the muscle. We don't have the money in this richest nation in the world. Every racer... on a well-equipped winning team... is a foreign sales representative for U.S. ski products....
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Soundtracks

Moon River
Written by Johnny Mercer & Henry Mancini
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User Reviews

 
Timeless because it's dated
13 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

For anybody who follows international sports, the characters and organizations in this movie ring true. Whether you follow skating, gymnastics, skiing, or any other essentially solo international sports, you have seen the loners, the chosen stars, the politics, fund raising, and everything else that goes on behind and in front of the scenes.

This movie captures those people and circumstances exceptionally well. As has been noted in the coverage of the Olympics, the parallels to the 2006 US downhill team are stunning. The fact that this movie was made in 1969, with the film style of the day, makes it quite dated. But it is exactly the dated fashions, music, cinematography, skiing equipment, and attitudes that make it a keeper.

Downhill Racer remains the seminal skiing movie (unless one prefers the slob humor of Hot Dog: The Movie), but it's also about bigger themes. Redford is the quintessential American loner, out for his own goals and not interested in serving the needs of his sport, his team, or the international press. It's a character we've seen a thousand times in real life, and it's one who gets deified or demonized depending on his success in the field of sport.

So, view this very dated movie in today's context. You'll be surprised how relevant it is.


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