5.1 C
New York
Sunday, April 21, 2024
Advertisement

Downhill Racer [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

downhill-racer-criterion-bluray-coverU.S. Release (Region A Locked)

The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_04

In 1969’s Downhill Racer, one of the classic American sports films, Michael Ritchie (The Bad News Bears) directs Robert Redford (The Sting, The Great Gatsby) in one of his earliest starring roles for what is a cerebral and beautifully shot film about an upstart skier, David Chappellet, vying for the top spot on the underdog USA ski team in the years leading up to the Olympic games.

While the hot shot Chappellet is out only for his own glory and to pad his records, his edge is tempered by gritty veteran coach Claire — played wonderfully by Gene Hackman — who is hoping to make history with his team in Europe, being one of the first to break through in a real way and win gold. Chappellet also finds time for romance with Swiss beauty Carole, played by a stunning Camilla Sparv.

A terse screenplay by novelist James Salter, and stunning sports photography from cinematography from Brian Probyn keep Downhill Racer involving even as the film’s cold and removed air make it overwhelmingly dispassionate and keep us at arm’s length from its attractive yet patently unlikable protagonist.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_01

The high definition digital restoration of Downhill Racer is provided on Blu-ray by Criterion Collection in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement. While the film itself has always looked beautiful, the transfer is just middling at best. While it looks clean and natural with a good layer of unobtrusive, organic grain, there is lots of film softness probably due to a combination of age and chosen film stock. But also, there are spots where some washout occurs in the darker areas and this is a bit of a nuisance that takes away from the overall sense of depth and contrast.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_03

The original monaural soundtrack for Downhill Racer is supplied in DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 (48kHz/24-bit) on this Blu-ray release from Criterion Collection. The sound is more than acceptable for a film of this vintage and issues with noise, hiss, and clipping are almost non-existent.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_02

  • Redford and Salter (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:33:48) – In this piece from 2009, Robert Redford and novelist and Downhill Racer screenwriter James Salter discuss the film’s origins and production
  • Coblenz, Harris, and Jalbert (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:29:51) – In this 2009 video piece, production manager Walter Coblenze, editor Richard Harris, and technical adviser ski double, and cameraman Joe Jay Jalbert discuss the making of Downhill Racer.
  • Michael Ritchie at AFI (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 01:01:29)– Director Michael Ritchie (1938-2001) made his feature film debut with Downhill Racer. His later work included The Candidate, The Bad News Bears, Semi-Tough, and Fletch. In 1977, he gave a seminar at the American Film Institute in which he discussed his career in film and television. Audio excerpts from that seminar are presented here.
  • How Fast? (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:12:25) – This twelve-minute featurette from 1969 was used to promote Downhill Racer and includes some rare making-of footage.
  • Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:40)
  • Essay by film critic Todd McCarthy


The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_05

Downhill Racer, an exposé of the American Dream and competitive drive in sports gone awry, is served well, even if not perfectly, by this Criterion Collection Blu-ray release.

Additional Screen Captures


Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_06

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_07

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_08

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_09

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_10

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_11

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_12

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_13

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_14

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_15

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_16

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_17

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_18

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_19

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_20

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_21

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_22

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_23

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_24

Downhill-Racer-Critrion-Collection-BD_25

Advertisement

Related Articles

Join the Discussion on TheaterByte!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Stay Connected

301FansLike
0FollowersFollow
184FollowersFollow
1,710FollowersFollow
- Advertisement -

Notice of Compliance with FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 CFR Part 255

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR part 255 guidelines, this website hereby states that it receives free discs and other theatrical or home entertainment "screeners" and access to screening links from studios and/or PR firms, and is provided with consumer electronics devices on loan from hardware manufacturers and/or PR firms respectively for the purposes of evaluating the products and its content for editorial reviews. We receive no compensation from these companies for our opinions or for the writing of reviews or editorials.
Permission is sometimes granted to companies to quote our work and editorial reviews free of charge. Our website may contain affiliate marketing links, which means we may get paid commission on sales of those products or the services we write about. Our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. This disclosure is provided in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Latest Articles