Personal Best (1982) - Rotten Tomatoes

Personal Best (1982)

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Critic Consensus: Mariel Hemingway has a career-making star turn in this highly physical drama about two Olympic athletes who find each other during competitive training.

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In 1982, there was a brief cycle of homosexual-relationship films, none of which were successful enough to form the basis of a trend. Producer/director/writer Robert Towne's Personal Best is one of the finest. It stars Mariel Hemingway and Patrice Donnelly as athletes participating in the 1980 Olympics. Growing ever closer during the training process, Chris (Hemingway) and Tory (Donnelly) fall in love. Up to this point, Chris has been "straight," thus has trouble sustaining the relationship with older Tory. Their relationship is counterbalanced with the attitudes held by their male coach, Terry (Scott Glenn). While the homosexual element of the film is secondary to the endless shots of athletes in training, the critics latched on to the film's romantic angle, which may have sabotaged its chances for box-office success (the world was a different place in 1982). Personal Best was the directorial debut for Robert Towne, who was not to direct another film until 1987's Tequila Sunrise.

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Cast

Mariel Hemingway
as Chris Cahill
Scott Glenn
as Terry Tingloff
Patrice Donnelly
as Tory Skinner
Kenny Moore
as Denny Stites
Jim Moody
as Roscoe Travis
Kari Gosswiller
as Penny Brill
Jodi Anderson
as Nadia `Pooch' Anderson
Emily Dole
as Maureen
Jan Van Reenen
as Yelovitch
Jane Frederick
as Fern Wadkins
Cindy Gilbert
as Charlene Benveniste
Marlene Harmon
as Pam Burnside
Linda Waltman
as Debbie Floyd
Cindy Banks
as Kim Stone
Milan Tiff
as Willie Lee
Earl Bell
as Randy Van Zile
Larry Pennell
as Rick Cahill
Luana Anders
as Rita Cahill
Robert Patten
as Colin Sales
Margaret Ellison
as Nellie Bowdeen
Charlie Jones
as TV Announcer
Frank Shorter
as TV Announcer
Jim Tracy
as Duane
Janet Hake
as Waitress
Robert Horn
as Water Polo Coach
Christopher Vargas
as Water Polo Player
Wendell Ray
as PA Announcer
Richard Martini
as Meet Manager
Len Dawson
as Announcer
Clim Jackson
as Men's Team Member
John Smith
as Men's Team Member
Anna Biller
as Women's Team Member
Susan Brownell
as Women's Team Member
Desiree Gauthier
as Women's Team Member
Sharon Hatfield
as Women's Team Member
Linda Hightower
as Women's Team Member
Joan Russell
as Women's Team Member
Themis Zambrzycki
as Women's Team Member
Leroy R. Perry Jr.
as Chiropractor
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Critic Reviews for Personal Best

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (6)

Personal Best is likable precisely because it is so unembarrassed.

August 4, 2008 | Full Review…
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Towne has a love of slow motion that's employed as if he's afraid you might miss one, rippling muscle. Worse than that, when people aren't exercising, they are often talking about exercising.

August 4, 2008 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

The sort of nerve required to produce an excellent screenplay like Chinatown seems to have deserted Towne in this, his directorial debut.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

This is a very physical movie, one of the healthiest and sweatiest celebrations of physical exertion I can remember.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Unless you're fascinated by all of the prettified slow-motion footage of Chris, Tory and the other women athletes, your eye is likely to wander to your watch long before the end.

August 30, 2004 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
New York Times
Top Critic

The characters have a fullness and vitality rare in American films of that period, but Towne has so much trouble establishing information visually that the film emerges as choppy, confused, ill-proportioned.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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