6.5/10
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42 user 38 critic

Downhill Racer (1969)

M/PG | | Drama, Sport | 9 January 1970 (Canada)
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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 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:

9 January 1970 (Canada) 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 film was made and released about six years after its source novel "The Downhill Racers" by Oakley Hall had been first published in 1963. Hall also contributed uncredited to the movie's screenplay. See more »

Goofs

During the challenge race between Johnny and Dave (when Johnny crashes) the two skiers first have a pair of red and black skis, but the next shot farther on down the course they both have red skis. See more »

Quotes

Mr. Chappellet: Well, I just hope you don't end up askin' yourself the question some folks ask me. "What's he do it for?"
Chappellet: Well, I'll be famous. I'll be a champion.
Mr. Chappellet: [cynically] World's full of'em.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

That Old Black Magic
Written by Johnny Mercer & Harold Arlen
See more »

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User Reviews

Skiing Into Your Living Room
3 November 2004 | by directoroffantasiesSee all my reviews

The appeal of a ski film to those who ski is obvious. But imagine yourself innocent of skiing. Can it hold the attention of the rest of us? Roone Arledge and his "Wide World of Sports" provided one answer, as Jean Claude Killy and his successors skied into American living rooms on many winter Saturdays. "Downhill Racer" seconds the motion.

The late Mike Ritchie, who'd essayed nothing more ambitious than commercials, traveled the World Cup circuit in the 1967-68 winter, accompanied by Aspen novelist Jim Salter, whose screenplay (from Oakley Hall's very different novel) effectively was written in segments the night before each shoot. Almost everything about this production was improvised.

Athletes are not necessarily interesting people. Killy was; stories about him, some even true, are legion. David Chappellet (a young Robert Redford), more typically, reminds one of the astronauts in "2001", with their limited range of expressions and nothing particularly interesting to say. This comes across powerfully in several hilarious interview scenes, with American and European journalists trying in vain to get the young man to say something worth writing down.

Wengen, Switzerland passes for several World Cup race sites. (A Swiss medico wears an armband identifying him as "Arzt", or doctor, at a supposed French venue). The filmmakers also were present in Grenoble for the Winter Olympics, providing a fictional inside look at the Games far different from that of, for example, "Chariots of Fire".

One still doesn't ski, but the pleasures of "Downhill Racer" are undeniable.


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