6.4/10
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Downhill Racer (1969)

M/PG | | Drama, Sport | 29 October 1969 (USA)
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2:56 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Michael Ritchie

Writer:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Redford ... Chappellet
Gene Hackman ... Claire
Camilla Sparv ... Carole
Karl Michael Vogler ... Machet
Jim McMullan ... Creech
Kathleen Crowley ... Reporter
Dabney Coleman ... Mayo
Kenneth Kirk Kenneth Kirk ... D.K.
Oren Stevens Oren Stevens ... Kipsmith
Jerry Dexter ... Engel
Walter Stroud Walter Stroud ... Mr. Chappellet
Carole Carle Carole Carle ... Lena
Rip McManus Rip McManus ... Devore
Joe Jay Jalbert Joe Jay Jalbert ... Tommy Erb
Tom J. Kirk 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/PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | French

Release Date:

29 October 1969 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La descente infernale See more »

Filming Locations:

Sankt Anton am Arlberg, Austria See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,600,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie's name was changed to "Downhill Racer" from its source Oakley Hall 1963 novel title of "The Downhill Racers" though the two titles still remained quite similar to each other. This ends up working since the title character is really in it for himself, and sets himself apart from the other skiers (with bad attitude and apt skills) from the very beginning. See more »

Goofs

Just after the Olympic Downhill Gold Medal racers reach the finish line, an announcer says (in German) "please clear the course; the first racer will be down in 5 minutes." See more »

Quotes

Chappellet: If I could have started five places ahead - just five - then I would've at least had good snow. I wouldn't have lost my balance in the ruts. I wouldn't have had to pull so hard after...
Claire: No.
Chappellet: What do you mean "no"? If I'd have started in the first 15, I could've won it.
Claire: No. You just weren't good enough. That's all. You lost your strength, and then the bumps took you out. That's it. That's all there was to it. You gotta' have your strength right up to the end. These guys aren't amateurs. They're ...
[...]
See more »


Soundtracks

Good King Wenceslas
Traditional tune, lyrics by John M. Neale (uncredited) and Thomas Helmore (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Success
22 April 2003 | by johnston.scotSee all my reviews

This is not your typical sports film, which I think accounts for some of the negative reactions from viewers who expected a rah-rah, underdog-coming-from-behind-to-win tale. It's a dark and ironic story.

Essentially, the movie is a meditation on the "bitch-goddess Success." Redford plays an unlikable character: an overgrown child with no interest in any person or thing other than himself; a taciturn athlete who probably deserves to be called "inarticulate," though it's hard to say, as he clearly has no thoughts to articulate anyway. The dark irony of the film is that he *wins* ... and does so rather more because of, rather than in spite of, his failures as a human being.

As Francis Bacon wrote (400 years ago): "Young men worship the 'bitch-goddess success.' We spend most all of our life pursuing her and only a few succeed in catching her. This goddess demands exclusive worship, and thus, other life pursuits are often left, much to our regret in later life. So, too, this exclusive pursuit can leave us morally flabby."

The movie is also interesting as a reasonably-accurate depiction of the top level of ski racing as it existed in the late '60s. (Incidentally, he's not a professional -- ski racing and, more importantly, the Olympics were amateur at the time; and the event is Downhill (as in the title), not Super-G, which didn't even exist until 20 years later).


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