19 user 5 critic

The Games (1970)

Four marathon runners (one from England, one from the U.S., a Czechoslovakian, and an Australian Aborigine) prepare to run in the Olympic games. The film follows each one and shows what their motivations are for running in the games.


Michael Winner


Hugh Atkinson (novel), Erich Segal (screenplay)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Crawford ... Harry Hayes
Ryan O'Neal ... Scott Reynolds
Charles Aznavour ... Pavel Vendek
Jeremy Kemp ... Jim Harcourt
Elaine Taylor ... Christine
Stanley Baker ... Bill Oliver
Athol Compton Athol Compton ... Sunny Pintubi
Rafer Johnson ... Commentator
Kent Smith ... Kaverley
Sam Elliott ... Richie Robinson
Mona Washbourne ... Mrs. Hayes
Reg Lye ... Gilmour
June Jago June Jago ... Mae Harcourt
Don Newsome Don Newsome ... Cal Wood
Hugh McDermott


This movie is about four marathon runners from different countries who are preparing for the Rome Olympics. The movie takes you through some of the runners personal training schedules before finally showing the marathon. Written by Jenny Evans <J.Evans@uts.edu.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The spectacle behind the spectacle.


Drama | Sport


G | See all certifications »






Release Date:

30 July 1970 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Arenans hjältar See more »

Filming Locations:

Copenhagen, Denmark See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Whilst it was supposed to take place during the summer games, the film was shot in winter. So the extras had to wear summer clothes instead of pullovers and umbrellas. See more »


At once stage during a particularly twisty and narrow part of the race on Rome's streets, the pace vehicle is forced to go so slow that it forces leader Hayes almost to a standstill to avoid colliding with it. Such things occasionally do happen in real foot and cycle races on roads - but surely it was unplanned in the movie. See more »


Referenced in Vsechnopárty: Episode dated 14 April 2017 (2017) See more »


Sunny's Theme
by Francis Lai
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User Reviews

Will the real amateur please stand up!
5 March 2006 | by dgrahamwatsonSee all my reviews

This Michael winner movie from 1970 is not that well known, probably because it was overshadowed by his 'revenge for hire ' films later in the 1970's and 80's. Its about the Olympic games in Rome with particular attention to the marathon. You can still enjoy this if you are not a avid track and field follower because it's got an interesting cast, however, if you are it's a real treat.

We are introduced to Scott Reynolds an American played by Ryan O'Neal a jock (a jock is a term in the USA for a male college student who is good at sports, and is popular with the women) who is boastful and likes to burn the candle at both ends. Over the other side of the Atlantic there is Harry Hayes a milkman by trade who likes to run and is encouraged to join an athletics club. Although he is slightly gawky and awkward (you can see traits of Frank Spencer a character Michael Crawford was to play in a BBC sitcom a few years later)also likes the ladies and a drink too is trained by his obsessive coach Bill Oliver played by Stanley Baker. Oliver is a former marathon star who is bitter that his running career came to a halt prematurely is an army man whose training methods are brutal and expectations so unrealistic that he actually comes across as a madman. Consequently, because of his intensity he steals the scenes when he is on camera.

Sunny is the Australian runner who likes to run in barefoot is encouraged by his mentor a bookie played by Jeremy Kemp. Lastly, there is Pavel Vendik the commie played by Charles Aznevour, a devoted family man and former world record holder whose best running days are probably behind him but is encouraged to come out of retirement to show whose political system is superior. Although this is a request from the party, you can't refuse unless you want to spend some time in a gulag.

One really interesting feature is that the main characters of the movie don't have much dialog or time with each other and although they do compete in other meetings,Vendik and Hayes once and Reynolds and Sunny once too,they only all come together in the movie finale in Rome. This provides two important factors. Firstly, its not too heavy on either character and quickly moves on to the other runners which keeps up the interest, secondly, it provides some great cinematography, from England, Australia, Czechoslovakia, Tokyo and the final country Italy where they all meet in the Marathon. The character development is good as it shows the cultural differences between each runner, their background and what motivates them to run and compete .

Also Michael winner was on to something with this depiction of an Olympic games. People often talk about "it's not the winning but the participation", and a get together of all nations in the world for peace and harmony, ---- diplomacy using sport. However,we all know that this is totally false, the reality is political and commercial interests ride roughshod over this conception. The marathon in this Olympics could not be moved to later on in the day when the temperature and humidity would not be so much of a problem for the athletes because it would conflict what was in the best interest of the US TV companies with their audience and advertising revenue. That's not hard to believe!

The importance of winning above anything else was paramount. Because the USSR and the USA used the Olympics to score political points both tried to get around the professional barrier to get the edge. To start with the Soviet Union and it's eastern bloc allies used the games as a way of competing with the west's capitalistic system. State run athletic programs, full time athletes and state sponsored drug taking, were part and parcel with the communist nations. Also in the USA, colleges provided athletic and sport scholarship programs for students which provided top notch facilities. However, many of them had very little academic reason for being there. This was a way for the US to get around professionalism too. Although performance enhancing drugs were not encouraged by the US administrators, according to Scot David Jenkins a former 400m Olympic contender who trained in the USA, he claimed that it was rife in American sports too. He should know, because not only did he use them but he spent time in a federal pen for illegally smuggling them and distributing them in the US after he retired from running. Providing you were not getting paid a salary or were not financially enriching yourself your were technically an amateur!

None of this was really in the spirit of amateur sports which the Olympics was meant to be. Contrast this with British runner Hayes who is a milkman and had to train after work in an athletics club, this truly typified the amateur spirit of athletics in the UK back then. Under the circumstances it's amazing that Great Britain was able to dominate middle distance running from the late 1970's through the late 1980's until it all really went professional. The British probably got good practice running after trains and buses, neither which ever ran on time!!

Also, the Olympics were the an opportunity for athletes and nations to make their petty political points. From the banning of South Africa from participation right up to the early 1990's the Olympics were riddled with political boycotts and demonstrations. Politics and sport don't mix who are you trying to kid! Michael winner was years ahead of his time with this and clearly saw what was coming!

Check this movie,it's great to see some of the support cast who went on to bigger and better things (particular attention to Ryan O'Neals former wife as the prize in the 'chug a lug' drinking contest!)

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