A youthful Robert Redford plays downhill skier Dave Chappellet, who gets called up to the U.S. team when another member is injured. While there’s no denying Chappellet’s talent and fearlessness on the slopes, off his skis he exhibits an unfortunate combination of cockiness and aloofness that many, including Coach Eugene Claire (Hackman), mistake for arrogance. Or are they mistaken?
Michael Ritchie's underrated debut film finally gets a first-rate DVD release from the Criterion Collection, and not a moment too soon. “Racer” holds up beautifully, thanks to a script that dispenses with all the sports movie clichés about hero athletes, a pair of dynamic, layered performances from stars-to-be Redford and Hackman, and Ritchie’s breathtaking ‘cinema verite’ that makes us feel we’re right alongside Redford on his heart-pounding descents. This is one feature that, forty years after its initial release, definitely merits another look.