Downhill Racer 1969

Downhill Racer

Critics Consensus

Downhill Racer plunges the viewer thrillingly into the action of the sport -- and continues to hold the attention as a thoughtful drama.

85%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 27

59%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,042

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Movie Info

A smug and overly self-assured downhill skier, David Chappellet (Robert Redford), joins the American ski team and quickly makes waves with his arrogant behavior and even flashier maneuvers on the slopes, falling into conflict with the team's coach (Gene Hackman). A rivalry also develops between David and Johnny Creech (Jim McMullan), the man who considered the team's best skier, as both push themselves and each other in a race to the Olympic Games.

Cast & Crew

Robert Redford
David Chappellet
Gene Hackman
Eugene Claire
Camilla Sparv
Carole Stahl
Jim McMullan
Johnny Creech
Kathleen Crowley
American Newspaper Woman
Kenneth Kirk
D. K. Bryan
Oren Stevens
Tony Kinsmith
James Salter
Screenwriter
Kenyon Hopkins
Original Music
Brian Probyn
Cinematographer
Ian Whittaker
Art Director
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News & Interviews for Downhill Racer

Critic Reviews for Downhill Racer

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (23) | Rotten (4)

  • A modest effort but a good one. It may be the first film in history that starts at the top, goes steadily downhill, and still stays interesting along the way.

    May 30, 2018 | Full Review…
  • One of the great unheralded films of the late '60s.

    May 30, 2018 | Rating: A | Full Review…
  • Downhill Racer doesn't always work... As a look at how [Robert] Redford's character and those orbiting him spend their time between runs, however, it's superb.

    May 30, 2018 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

    Keith Phipps

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • Several shots are positively astonishing when you consider that they are in no way manipulated or digitally altered, simply a man on skis flying down a hill with a 40-pound film camera in his hands.

    May 30, 2018 | Full Review…
  • An intriguing film that balances skiing and the majesty of Alpine scenery with an absorbing story of hero Robert Redford, young American innocent abroad.

    December 10, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • The location skiing sequences, revealing Ritchie's background and interest in documentary styles, are simply astounding, even for those with little interest in the sport.

    January 26, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Downhill Racer

  • Jun 05, 2013
    One of Redford's best as the American ski team tries to shake up the European dominated sport on its home turf. I particularly enjoyed the small town Yank abroad aspect of the piece though the ski sequences are formidable, exhilarating. And it looks as if they shot it last year, not 40+ years ago.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 20, 2011
    I liked the fact that it went away from the total cliches of most sports films and thought it was interesting to see Redford play such a almost souless person whose entire existence is about going faster and ultimately winning. You can't help but think of Redford as ballsy for putting his good looking charmer clout on the line with performances like this. He is not likable in the least sense, but I enjoyed watching him and kind of understood where he was coming from even if he was being a complete asshole about it. I also loved the way the film was shot almost like a documentary and it made you feel as if you were on the slopes with him whereas now they would just prop him up in front of a green screen and call it a day. Overall, just one of those gems from the period that I don't think will ever rise again.
    Tim S Super Reviewer
  • Nov 24, 2009
    <I>Downhill Racer becomes the best movie ever made about sports -- without really being about sports at all.</I> --Roger Ebert-- Robert Redford plays David Chappellet, a cocky, self centered ski racer. His only goal is winning and becoming a champion. He clashes with his coach and teammates. He seems incapable of friendships, relationships, and even communicating with anyone. In the end, Chappellet conquers his goal.
    Amanda . Super Reviewer
  • Sep 10, 2009
    Well crafted film (about to be released on Criterion) about the US ski team in the late 60's. Micheal Ritchie creates a very real film that is almost like watching a Maysles' documentary at times (who could have foreseen he would go on to make movies like Bad News Bears and Fletch). Redford plays a role he perfected in his career, like Roy Hobbs, a no-nonsense talent who just wants to do the job his way without any b.s.. Hackman also portrays a character he would become well known for, the determined coach. Great camerawork and a great ending.
    Grifty G Super Reviewer

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