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Personal Best

Mariel Hemingway , Scott Glenn , Robert Towne    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

It takes a lot to win. This movie is usually considered a classic of lesbian cinema, and that's too bad: its true sensuality lies in powerful erotic associations with running and the sheer pain of competition. The film opens with a memorable close-up of sweat dripping on tarmac, an early glimpse of a visual style which evolves throughout the picture into almost pornographic slow-motion sequences of high jumps, shot puts, and running legs.

The story follows a young runner (Mariel Hemingway) from a clueless start in the 1976 Olympic trials through a vexed affair with her mentor-competitor (Olympic runner Patrice Donnelly) to a final, triumphant qualifying race for the boycotted 1980 Moscow games. The human elements are told in an almost documentary style, giving an honest, complicated look at the blossoming of friendship into love against the near-military backdrop of world-class competitive sports. Hemingway and Donnelly can act, and their drive to win is compelling, both on the field and in their personal lives. But what really makes the film worth watching are the races--stunning images, beautiful editing, and the timeless drama of athletic endeavor. --Grant Balfour


Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Format:VHS Tape
This film has EXACTLY the right ingredients for being one of the best Guy Flicks of all time. First, the behind-the-scenes look at athletic training techniques is incomparable. The preparation methods are highly educational, the stretching, the warm-ups, the cool-downs -- actually seeing these activities demonstrated is invaluable for aspiring athletes. Also, the details about various events were intriguing -- setting the blocks for sprinting, determining one's "pace" for high-jumping, the muscular ballet employed for the shot put. Watching Coach Scott Glenn (Urban Cowboy's "Wes Hightower") was inspirational, he obviously knew how to get the most from a team member. And the work-outs themselves were marvelous, the long runs, the hill-climbs, the post-workout massages and other physical therapy, with particular attention to specific body areas -- all of this information is extremely important for any male athlete, and should probably be viewed several times, numerous times, again and again, in order to ensure full comprehension and complete appreciation.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Sexy-period June 25 2001
Format:VHS Tape
This is far and away the sexiest movie I have ever seen. But all you folks who enjoy seeing great big breasts, forget it. Also, if the sight of muscular, slender, not fat, women does not turn you on, forget it. Ms Hemingway and Ms donnelly are both gorgeous ladies; Ms Donnelly has the most beautiful face I have ever seen. Forget the story; there may never have been a story; it is about female pentathletes training for the 1980 Olympics, with the conflicts among the two ladies, their coach and the father of one of the ladies. The movie has a happy ending--I think. I won't worry about it. The dialogue, a lot of the time, is as if the actors are making it up as they go along. Sometimes it works. By far the greatest fault is the mushmouth delivery of the players. If the director had wanted desperately to guarantee that the audience not understand what the characters are saying, he could not have succeeded any better than he did. Would the director recognize a consonant if he could have heard one in this movie? The photography is magnificent: a lot of slow motion, long telephoto shots of the ladies in action on the field. Also, some composite (Maybe that's what they could be called.) shots of one particular activity, in slow motion, switching from one athlete to the next to the next to the next ... as the activity proceeds. Absolutely beautiful! My rating, above, is not for me, necessarily; it is my estimate of what more nearly normal folks would rate it. As for me, I will probably watch it another dozen times. I may leave the sound off, but ...; oh well, maybe two dozen times more!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Dated babes work up a sweat Nov. 20 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I'm sorry I cannot agree with the majority about this movie. Maybe it's one of those 'you gotta be there to get it' things (it might have been breathtaking in the 80's) but I found this film dated and sexist. The relationship between the two girl is unconvincing and titilating. The coach/athlete thing undevelopped, inexplicable. The only good thing going for it is that it is an ok sports movie, with some nice scenes depicting training. These however were inevitable intersperced with slow motion takes of the female athletes' crotches taken from various angles, fitting for a movie heavy on the sexploitation angle. I realise that this may have been a 'breakthrough' movie, maybe depicting for the first time a pretty actress taking a leak while babbling some juvenile dribble, or helping her boyfriend hold his d...... while he takes a leak as a sign of their intimacy, but frankly, that I can do without. Perhaps the movie could have been cut down and saved but I think even then all you would be left with is a cool 'eighties' soundtrack and two girls running around a track. All I can say is at least 'Charlies Angels' wasn't pretentious!
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5.0 out of 5 stars All time favorite "jock" movie June 17 2000
Format:VHS Tape
So, I'm having a party conversation with a lesbian friend and "Personal Best" comes up. She denounces it as a lousy portrayal of lesbianism. Yeah, I answer, but it is a great sports movie! And it is too. Personal Best is not just a great sports movie, but is also a great bildungsroman ("coming of age" movie). In it the lead character, Chris Cahill (Mariel Hemingway) is involved in a dysfunctional relationship with her father who is a coach. We see little of her family life. The movie revolves around her moving to a new family and getting new parents: Tory Skinner (Patrice Donnelly) and Terry Tingloff (Scott Glenn, who is, you guessed it, a coach). The problem is the tranference of parental relations is confused from the very beginning by a sexual relation between Chris and Tory. The waters are muddled even further when jealousy rears his head between the "parents," and between Tory and Chris who are set in competition against each other by Tingloff. Through it all, Chris grows up so that, when Tingloff comes on to her in a vulnerable situation, she staves him off (unlike Tory in a earlier scene) and begins to develop her own relationships and her own philosophy of competition. The moral of the movie is: To be competitive you don't have to be better than everybody else, just a little bit better than you were yesterday. You don't have to kill the competition, you can love the competition, but always remember, you are the competition.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Blu-Ray is terrific
Personal Best is a great Olympic movie. A blu-ray version sounds like a terrific idea because this movie is terrific to see on blu-ray when it comes out as soon as possible.
Published 15 months ago by Kevin Barton
5.0 out of 5 stars It's About Expectations
I was lucky that I began seeing films when I did. The beginnings were auspicious - "Far from the Madding Crowd", "Butch Cassidy", "If .... Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2008 by cybertwerp
5.0 out of 5 stars Ironic Movie
I liked the movie when I saw it in the early 80s because of the break through "love" scenes and the sports theme. Read more
Published on July 15 2004 by Linda Levi
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love it!
I can see why this movie is on the list of favorites. It was very moving and showed the extreme emotions that love causes. I would highly recommend it.
Published on Jan. 23 2003 by "maybeiam"
1.0 out of 5 stars Personal Best?
Let's see: early on in the movie Mariel Hemmingway does a nude scene as a shy 15-year-old being seduced by the 35-year-old lesbian who got her stoned. Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2003 by Don Schenk
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional film; one to be enjoyed over and over!
Whether you viewed this film when it first appeared in the '80s or today, you cannot help but get the feeling that you are right there w/Tory (Patrice Donnelly) & Chris (Mariel... Read more
Published on July 8 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Sports and love between two women touch your heart.
This is a film about competition in sports and about the love/sexual atraction between two women. The scenes that capture the more difficult moments in sports competition (the... Read more
Published on May 15 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally satisfying & realistic - comedy, pathos, passion
Well-shot scenes of passion between the two lead actresses and (mostly) realistic track&field sequences make for exciting viewing. Scott Glenn does well in an early role. Read more
Published on Nov. 25 1998
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