Downhill Racer (1969) - Rotten Tomatoes

Downhill Racer1969

Downhill Racer (1969)



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

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Movie Info

An ambitious young skier, determined to break all existing records, is contemptuous of the teamwork advocated by the US coach when they go to Europe for the Olympics.

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Robert Redford
as David Chappellet
Gene Hackman
as Eugene Claire
Camilla Sparv
as Carole Stahl
Jim McMullan
as Johnny Creech
Kathleen Crowley
as American Newspaperwoman
Kenneth Kirk
as D.K. Bryan
Oren Stevens
as Tony Kipsmith
Jerry Dexter
as Ron Engel
Walter Stroud
as Mr. Chappellet, Davis's Father
Rip McManus
as Bruce Devore
Joe Jay Jalbert
as Tommy Erb
Peter Rohr
as Boyriven
Rudi Gertsch
as Selznick
James Sandoe
as Spectator
Jenny Dexter
as Ron Engel
Noam Pitlik
as TV Announcer
Walter Gnilka
as Austrian Journalist
Harald Dietl
as Journalist
Alexander Stampfer
as Skier No. 16
Robert Brendlin
as Announcer
Michael Gempart
as Hotel Receptionist
Jack Ballard
as Candy Vendor
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News & Interviews for Downhill Racer

Critic Reviews for Downhill Racer

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (9)

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…
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…

Downhill Racer stands as lean condemnation of the calculating underdog clichés Rocky would bring make the norm.

November 16, 2009 | Rating: 3/4 | 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…

Audience Reviews for Downhill Racer


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. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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 Sigur
Tim Sigur

Super Reviewer


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
Grifty G

Super Reviewer

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