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Criterion Collection: Downhill Racer [DVD] [1969] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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  • Criterion Collection: Downhill Racer [DVD] [1969] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Product details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002M36R1Y
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,142 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have watched Robert Redfords movies over many years,and he has almost never turned in a bad one. This is a great film about skiing,its very exciting,and it shows what it must be like to be the best and at the centre of that world. The story finally conveys the eternal truth of competitive sport,which is the anxiety of knowing that ones time at the top is fleeting,and there is always a good "young'un"coming along,who is going to topple you off your pedestal. The last moments of the film say it all!
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Penned long before the bandwagon really got rolling, Salter's script is a solid look at what would become the sports "industry," with athletes looking only to see how much money and fame they could gain. The unexpected, but well-handled, love story is a bonus. And the camera work -- a new technique at the time -- is sublime.
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Format: DVD
When Robert Redford looks in the mirror, as he does two or three times, we gradually come to realize the vulnerability or lack of love in his life: each time the 'look' means something different. He ain't a great talker. He tells the two women he gets involved with either: 'get in the car', or: 'no I don't want a drink' prior to not 'denying himself'. There is a bit of camaraderie but even then he is unable to express his pity for a fallen comrade. His inarticulateness is exposed by Gene Hackman - you're not educated - you're not a team player. No, I guess he's the embodiment of an early 70s critique of individualism. The woman he comes closest to loving shares it around a bit in the swanky ski resorts of sophisticated Europe, and as a macho working class 'boy', he doesn't get it. Women ain't like that in Idaho Falls. The film build to a tense finale but there's a sting in the tail which undermines him and his belief that winning is 'for keeps'. As his similarly inarticulate and equally unsympathetic Pa says - there's lots of champions out there. A film very much of its 'disappointed' time: pre-Watergate, faceless money and a counter-culture appropriated by the European well-to-do in their Alpine eyries: Moon River, some 'Euro-disco' moves and the best car is a new Porsche, not Dad's old Chevy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 50 reviews
54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way We Were (on skis) 17 Dec. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
As a former ski racer myself, I can assure you that "Downhill Racer" captures the essence of the sport perfectly. From the dated ski equipment and race sequences to the European ski resorts, from the edgy camaraderie of the skiers to their common goal of winning in this most individualistic of sports, "Downhill Racer" is right on target. A good skier himself, Redford did many of his own action scenes and seems to have an intuitive understanding of the ski racer psyche.
The stark scenes in Redford's hometown of Idaho Springs, Colorado contrast with the glitz of the glamorous European ski resorts where he races. His old cling-on racer-chaser girlfriend at home is the diametric opposite of the manipulative viper he meets in Europe. Redford is a misfit loner trying to succeed in an alien world, and he knows it. Gene Hackman plays the U.S. Ski Team coach perfectly, balancing his business role in raising money and reassuring nervous sponsors with his job of babysitting the prima donna Redford. After Redford wipes out in an important race and starts to make excuse to his coach, Hackman cuts him down with a classic speech ("the bumps took you out...").
I think there are several basic genres of sports films. First, you have the overblown epics like "Rocky" and the romantic comedies like "Bull Durham" and "Tin Cup." These are essentially Hollywood efforts that just use sports for big Box Office. Then, you have parables like "Chariots of Fire," "Field of Dreams" and "The Natural," and those that are more overwrought, such as "Pride of the Yankees," "Knute Rockne" and "Fear Strikes Out." Finally, there are your nitty gritty slices of sports realism... "Raging Bull," "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" and "Downhill Racer." As a low budget, unpretentious film from thirty years ago, "Downhill Racer" remains a classic of its genre.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent character study amid the glamour of european sport 18 Nov. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Dave Chapplet is a young man from nowhere who has a chance opportunity to become famous based on his only talent -- skiing. This is an exciting and incisive story about the hype and manipulation of competitive sports, so that sport is no longer entertainment or achievement but a money-making industry in itself. It is also the story of a young man trapped in his own arrogance, searching for something but never quite achieving it, no matter how famous he became, no matter what woman he found. Robert Redford gives one of his finest performances as a man both driven and empty, lost and aloof. The film itself was innovative even in its day, with some fantastic skiing footage and artistic cinematography. The characterizations by Redford and Gene Hackman are sturdy, compelling, and deep. There is a controlled magnificence to Hackman's performance as a man dedicated to the ethic and mythos of sport, just as there is a desperate tension and dismay in Redford's character's attempts to find something satisfying for himself, something beyond a cold, negligent childhood (portrayed in a number of unsettling scenes with his father). There is romance also, which is always a nice touch in a Redford film, but the romance is appropriately awkward because Redford's character isn't capable of anything but a shallow intimacy, and Redford portrays this shallowness surprisingly well for an actor often praised for his deeply romantic performances. What is interesting as well is that Redford's character, Dave, ends up falling for a woman who is very much like himself, lovely to look at, selfish, self-centered, and cool. Quite similar to Redford's The Candidate in some respects, since both films expose the truth behind the myths, Downhill Racer is exciting to the last, not just in the competitions but in the observation of Dave's/Redford's development into a winning sportsman.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Downhill Racer - a must see! 8 April 2005
By maree healy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
I kick off every Ski Season by popping in my old vhs copy of Downhill Racer. It is one of the few, if not the only, ski films out there that is able to capture the american ski scene and culture in the late 60's as vividly and honestly as this film does. The Redford character is rather complex actually, a loner, a selfish and self indulgent athlete with great talent ... a talent never recognized or appreciated by his father. So perhaps it was a troubled and sad family life that fostered the cocky and arrogant attitude he brought with him to ski racing. And the very aspects of his personality that the coach and team members find disgraceful are the very same traits that make him a top racer, a winner. And as long as he keeps winning races this behavior will be embraced by the fans, the media and ultimately his coach.

His relationship with Carmilla Sparv is totally engaging, perfectly played and it's the only way the Redford character will get a taste of his bad self! And I've seen many a man's goggles fog up at the sight of a gorgeous gal who not only skis well but drives a porsche ... she was perfect for Redford ...hello, certainly she belonged in this movie!!

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loneliness of the Downhill American Ski Champ 11 Jan. 2002
By Doug Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
This film caught my attention immediately because of the writer, James Salter, so I was surprised at how little dialogue or actual talking goes on. Its one of the most physical films I've ever seen which is certainly appropriate given the subject matter, downhill ski racing. Redford came to this fresh off of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid but he looks much younger without the moustache. The topic of ski competition is exciting and fun as most of the film takes place on the mountain with great ski footage or in ski lodges in Europe which are romantic to say the least. Also attractive is Redfords European girlfriend. She gives the film another dimension completely as the embodiment of the experienced and scrupulous European versus the innocent and clumsy(and socially naive)American. Gene Hackman as the coach is absolutely great as he tries to instill more than just athletic virtues into his team members. There are also scenes of Redford, the rising star of the team, visiting home in the American midwest somewhere which I suppose tells us both why winning is so important to him and why he is so clumsy socially. Its not a perfect film( the midwest scenes seem a little too simplistic for such an otherwise smart and uncliched film) but one that tells a great sort of story rare in 69 in that it puts forth a value system instead of knocking one down. Redford has called the film an examination of American ideals about success. It is that. The ski scenes capture the excitement of the sport, and the hotel scenes capture the rewards given to success. But success in sport as in all fields is fleeting and you best enjoy the prize while at the top because if you finish second you are nobody again and all the rewards vanish as quickly as they were given. Effective cutting technique throughout the film emphasizes the ruthless pace and nature of a life forged in the heat of competition. Redford is caught surprise by the transient nature of this life. But the film has a great sort of ethic being put forth, that being that in a world where everything can be gained or lost in a split second one must not focus so keenly on the prize immediately at stake that one loses sight of those things which sustain us through both ups and downs, ie friends, coach, Dad, old girlfriend, dog.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars That Last Scene 19 Nov. 2004
By Charles J. Sanders - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Dated as it might be, it remains as one of the few "must see" films for ski enthusiasts and students of the sport's history. It also contains one of the most haunting images of any film of its era. That is, the very last scene, when Redford locks eyes with the unidentified, teenage German (if I recall correctly) racer who has fallen on the last steep section of the downhill course. The difference between first and last, in ski racing as in many other pursuits, is sometimes razor thin. The glances exchanged among the German kid, Redford, and Hackman are a magnificent example of actors imparting with subtle expressions volumes more than dialog could have.
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