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ROBERT REDFORD CHILLS 'DOWNHILL RACER' W/ GENE HACKMAN

Robert Redford looking down on Downhill Racer YEAR: 1969
A movie has to be about something or someone, and reading any synopsis for DOWNHILL RACER, you'd think the main character, played by Robert Redford, was the biggest jerk on the planet. And while he is difficult and stubborn, childish and bitter, aren't all great athletes? At least the ones who have only winning on the brain...

Which is what RACER is about: not only striving to win but the formidable urge to never lose. And the U.S.A. Men's Ski Coach, Gene Hackman, along with his assistant Dabney Coleman and team captain Jim McMullan, knows right off that Redford's golden-haired upstart isn't a team player. But what seems to matter one minute is forgotten the next since there's hardly a plot in this underrated, avant garde curio, directed by future comedy icon Michael Ritchie, maneuvering the camera like we're on the snow with the athletes, including strategic P.O.V. shots of Redford's rushing and crushing Dave Chappellet...

Action Shot from Downhill Racer SCORE: ****1/2
Not even the inevitable love interest can slow the pace since DOWNHILL RACER has more a documentary style than the usual sports movie gusto: Absent are the cliché heartaches or feel-good adrenaline-pumping hoorays and hurrahs. Perturbed lectures from Hackman feel natural and captured instead of a means to develop the characters, which this movie intentionally lacks being more existential than energetic. Meanwhile, the sporadic race scenes happen exactly when and where they're needed...

Flowing from various competitions throughout Europe to a trip back home to a dismal Idaho Springs, Colorado all the way to the Olympics, the movie's audience learns about the cold and aloof skier along with his fictional teammates. And by the end... one of the most suspenseful climaxes in sports film history... you'll want victory as much as he does, which is the entire point and purpose: Redford's Dave Chappellet is simply no damn good for anything else.
Opening Credits Freeze Framing of DOWNHILL RACER
Opening Credits Freeze Framing of DOWNHILL RACER
Opening Credits Freeze Framing of DOWNHILL RACER
Opening Credits Freeze Framing of DOWNHILL RACER
Robert Redford and Gene Hackman in ultra realism for DOWNHILL RACER
Robert Redford back home in DOWNHILL RACER
Camilla Sparv in DOWNHILL RACER
Kathleen Crowley in DOWNHILL RACER
Robert Redford in DOWNHILL RACER
Camilla Sparv in DOWNHILL RACER with Robert Redford
Camilla Sparv in DOWNHILL RACER
Camilla Sparv in DOWNHILL RACER
Robert Redford and Gene Hackman in ultra realism for DOWNHILL RACER
Robert Redford in DOWNHILL RACER
Robert Redford and Gene Hackman in ultra realism for DOWNHILL RACER
Robert Redford and Gene Hackman during the edgy finale for DOWNHILL RACER
Robert Redford and Carole Carle in DOWNHILL RACER
Kenneth Kirk, Kathleen Crowley and Gene Hackman in DOWNHILL RACER
Middle to left Jim McMullan and Dabney Coleman in DOWNHILL RACER
Carole Carle and Robert Redford in DOWNHILL RACER
Robert Redford filmed in Europe from DOWNHILL RACER
A downhill racer in DOWNHILL RACER
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