Michael Ritchie

Downhill Racer

Downhill Racer

Astonishing Alpine location photography and a young Robert Redford in one of his earliest starring roles are just two of the visual splendors of Downhill Racer, the visceral debut feature of Michael Ritchie. In a beautifully understated performance, Redford is David Chappellet, a ruthlessly ambitious skier competing for Olympic gold with an underdog American team in Europe, and Gene Hackman provides tough support as the coach who tries to temper the upstart’s narcissistic drive for glory. With a subtle screenplay by acclaimed novelist James Salter, Downhill Racer is a vivid character portrait buoyed by breathtakingly fast and furious imagery that brings the viewer directly into the mind of the competitor.

Film Info

  • Michael Ritchie
  • United States
  • 1969
  • 102 minutes
  • Color
  • 1.85:1
  • English
  • Spine #494

Special Features

  • Restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Interviews from 2009 with actor Robert Redford, screenwriter James Salter, editor Richard Harris, production manager Walter Coblenz, and former downhill skier Joe Jay Jalbert, who served as a technical adviser, ski double, and cameraman
  • Audio excerpts from a 1977 American Film Institute seminar with director Michael Ritchie
  • How Fast?, a rare twelve-minute promotional feature from 1969
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Todd McCarthy

New cover by Eric Skillman

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • Restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Interviews from 2009 with actor Robert Redford, screenwriter James Salter, editor Richard Harris, production manager Walter Coblenz, and former downhill skier Joe Jay Jalbert, who served as a technical adviser, ski double, and cameraman
  • Audio excerpts from a 1977 American Film Institute seminar with director Michael Ritchie
  • How Fast?, a rare twelve-minute promotional feature from 1969
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Todd McCarthy

New cover by Eric Skillman

Downhill Racer
Cast
Robert Redford
David Chappellet
Gene Hackman
Claire
Camilla Sparv
Carole
Karl Michael Vogler
Machet
Jim McMullan
Creech
Kathleen Crowley
Newspaperwoman
Dabney Coleman
Mayo
Kenneth Kirk
D. K.
Oren Stevens
Kipsmith
Jerry Dexter
Engel
Rip McManus
Devore
Walter Stroud
Chappellet’s father
Carole Carle
Lena
Joe Jay Jalbert
Tommy Erb
Tom J. Kirk
Stiles
Credits
Director
Michael Ritchie
Producer
Richard Gregson
Written by
James Salter
Music
Kenyon Hopkins
Director of photography
Brian Probyn
Photographed by
Tony Busbridge
Photographed by
Alan Hewison
Photographed by
Arthur Wooster
Photographed by
Jean-Paul Janssen
Photographed by
Jean-Pierre Janssen
Photographed by
Joe Jay Jalbert
Photographed by
Austin Parkinson
Photographed by
Michael Temple
Art director
Ian Whittaker
Assistant directors
Kip Gowans
Assistant directors
Walter Coblenz
Makeup
William J. Lodge
Supervising editor
Nick Archer
Editor
Richard Harris
Titles designed by
Don Record
Production supervisor
Stanley O’Toole
Production manager
Walter Coblenz

From The Current

James Salter and Robert Redford on Downhill Racer
James Salter and Robert Redford on Downhill Racer

In June, we lost the inimitable American writer James Salter. The author, one of the great novelists of the twentieth century, also had a career as a Hollywood screenwriter—which included penning Michael Ritchie’s 1969 Olympic skiing drama Downhi…

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Downhill Racer: Trailblazer
Downhill Racer: Trailblazer

Critic Todd McCarthy takes an inside look at Michael Ritchie's outdoor drama, which he calls “spare, cut to the bone, as fine as dry powder. Had Hemingway ever written about competitive skiing, this would have been the right style with which to han

By Todd McCarthy

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On the Slopes: A Conversation with Joe Jay Jalbert
On the Slopes: A Conversation with Joe Jay Jalbert

A key collaborator on Michael Ritchie’s Downhill Racer and the creator of two Olympic films, Joe Jay Jalbert chats with us about the art of capturing skiing on-screen.

By Hillary Weston

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