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This film is based on the real life story of Jill Kinmont, an eighteen year old skiing champion & Olympic hopeful, who suffered a severe fall down a mountain, which not only ended her skiing career but paralyzed her from the shoulders down. Jill's struggles are poignantly chronicled as she learns to cope with life as a quadriplegic and regain a hopeful spirit, assisted by her devoted family. Eventually she even finds a love interest in the form of Dick (called 'Mad Dog') Buek.
Marilyn Hassett is convincing and very sympathetic in her portrayal of the vibrant & determined young Jill, and Beau Bridges wonderful as the warm & adventuresome Dick.
A strong recommendation for this film. It paints a vivid portrait of the realities faced by those who must depend on others for personal care and simply daily tasks, also their struggle for some measure of independence and the same respect granted able bodied individuals. Hopefully, this movie might tend to impart to those of us not disabled a little more gratitude for abilities we take for granted every day. Also, this story has a very appealing heroine and a touching romance.
To rephrase his thought, Jill suggests there are likewise only two joys... One is having God answer all your prayers, the other is not receiving the answer to all your prayers...
The four words: Your injury is permanent' slam into Jill Kinmont's consciousness like a bullet... She was a ski champion, full of life, action and beauty... Now, almost totally paralyzed after a bad fall...
Being Quadraplegic, means that every aspect in her life is different from that point on... Her total care is left up to other people: She cannot bathe herself, feed herself, or dress herself... Jill automatically suffers the effects of having no arms and no legs, and becomes incontenant as well...
Marilyn Hassett makes Kinmont a fighter whose determination initially explodes and inspires some to have unreasonable expectations of her limited recovery... She tries to reach a state of empowerment, the right to feel proud of herself, and what she is, and what she does, and to have that pride recognized as acceptable by her love ones... The tender romance between her and Beau Bridges provides some fine moments...
The film, a tearjerker based on a real case, is altogether too much of a good thing...
RR#1 Arcadia Box 4660
Yarmouth Ns Canada
Made to reach for some of the box office success of the syrupy romance Love Story, The Other Side of the Mountain tells the true story of Jill Kinmont, the teen-aged downhill skier with Olympic gold in her sights who's dealt a full Kleenex box worth of tragedies.
Beautiful cinematography (although the prints I've seen lately have been dirty) takes us through her 1950s teenhood in the Eastern Sierras, full of boys, BFFs and her steely determination to win in high school ski meets.
Although the tale of a vivacious girl becoming crippled is one of the biggest clichés in movies, Jill's paralyzing injury, the result of a ski race, is still memorable. In a fall on the slopes (staged unconvincingly by turning the camera on its side) Jill goes from hard-charging athlete to high-level quadriplegic, paralyzed from her chest down, left with no use of her hands, and dependent on others for every basic and intimate task.
We see her imprisoned in traction, straining to move her wheelchair, helpless in a swimming pool, fretting about the medical corset that keeps her upright before a visit from her then boyfriend. But through Marilyn Hassett's portrayal, we see the same strength and determination that made her a ski champ re-emerge as she learns to live her new life on wheels. She pushes to complete her education and fights to become the first paralyzed teacher in the state. Throughout, she's supported by her family and the James Dean-ish hot-dog skier, Dick Buek, played by Beau Bridges in a likable performance. Buek spares Jill the hand-wringing weepy treatment over her plight and instead challenges her to make a life with what's she's got left. Which, it turns out, is a lot.
This movie overall is not one for the ages. Larry Peerce and the scriptwriter (David Seltzer, whose next film was The Omen!) never stray from the formula, and give their actors some very stilted lines to work with. But instead, look in the corners – look at Marilyn Hassett's moments of flint underneath the pink sweaters and girly vulnerability. Look at Beau Bridges's squinty grins and twitchy physicality. Think about what it takes to turn the page on an athletic life and live in a body that you can't feel, facing each day in an electric wheelchair. And reflect that it's the story of a real person.
Unfortunately this Universal release seems to have dropped off the face of the earth: I haven't seen it on any TV schedule in a long time, the VHS release is out of print and there's no DVD in site. I'm beginning to think it was a casualty of Universal's film vault fire in 2008, although the studio claims it had copies of everything. This movie was the 9th top-grossing film the year it was released, just ahead of Tommy.
My friend Fernando Tabilo and I were on the phone talking about this film and he said to me that he has not been able to get a hold of a DVD of this film, or seen it played on a movie channel. Frankly, me neither, and I have not even looked for one, for I was the movie house projectionist and I saw the movie enough times to remember about it many years to come.