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Downhill Racer (1969)
A good film that could have been great
After many years of catching brief scenes of this now semi-cult film, I finally watched it in its entirety. It is not a great film, but for film students, and fans of both Gene Hackman and Robert Redford, it's a must. The opening credits are delivered over scenes of a Super G skier flying down the mountain and feature a combination of stop action and over-cranked footage. The film quality is beautiful, and although the techniques now seem dated, they stand for what was cutting-edge editing at the time. Watching the opening, you feel like you're in for a great ride but are sadly let down by a staid script. Having said that, the film can sort of get a way with this (at least to a certain extent) because you've got such great actors playing the main roles of skier (Redford) and coach (Hackman). Both know how to exploit the economy of language and show a lot simply with body language and expression. (They must have realized they had to with this script.) Add to that fact, that the character Redford is playing - a vainglorious Super G racer named David Chappellett, probably wouldn't have much to say.
Ultimately, the film serves as cinematic commentary on how fleeting success is in a sport like skiing, as well as the shallowness shown by both the press that cover the sport, and the women that covet the skiers.