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When the Olympics Happened at the Movies
3 November 2004 | by (Tampa Bay, Florida) – See all my reviews

Once upon a time, pre-satellite if not pre-TV, most sports fans went to the cinema to get a glimpse of the Olympic Games. Local Organizing Committees hired a director from their country to cobble together a feature documentary, in addition to which the likes of Bud Greenspan produced newsreel footage.

Roone Arledge and his ABC-TV unit began to force changes to this routine in the 1960s. By the 1976 Innsbruck Winter Olympics, the five-ring film was on its last legs. Arledge's same-day satellite transmission of Franz Klammer's spectacular downhill ski victory far outstripped Joe Jay Jalbert et al's coverage of the same event in "White Rock", the official film of this Austrian fortnight.

A team of directors, producers, camera and sound people with many shared experiences of Olympics past contributed to the content of "White Rock". Jalbert did ski-camera duty on "Downhill Racer". Mike Samuelson filmed many Olympics. Arthur Wooster the same, plus "Magical Mystery Tour". Herb Lightman of "American Cinematographer" once again filmed and then wrote about it. This was practically the last time such a fraternity had occasion to assemble.

The Olympics are surely not an exercise in nostalgia, but that is an inescapable conclusion about "White Rock".

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