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Personal Best


Price: CDN$ 35.97
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Product Details

  • Actors: Mariel Hemingway, Scott Glenn, Patrice Donnelly, Kenny Moore, Jim Moody
  • Directors: Robert Towne
  • Writers: Robert Towne
  • Producers: Robert Towne, David Geffen, Peter Peyton
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Warner
  • Release Date: Jan. 8 2008
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JNGN
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #26,495 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

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


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Customer Reviews

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Format: DVD
I was lucky that I began seeing films when I did. The beginnings were auspicious - "Far from the Madding Crowd", "Butch Cassidy", "If ...." - but, much as I thought all of these were wonderful films, much as all but "If ...." have stayed with me all this time, I never viewed any of them but once until the advent of DVD, and I'd qualify none as "my favourite film". My favourite film is on offer right here, and it was something I saw four times on its first run.

One thing about "Personal Best" that has, I think, inhibited its recognition is the fact that nobody much has really seen it for what it is. Coming out in 1982, a year after "Chariots of Fire" had taken North America by storm (I've never figured that out yet), "Personal Best" was labelled as a track-and-field film. It also was a new sort of shocker, so the Lesbian theme got a lot of play, and, indeed, one reviewer headed his piece "Chariots of Desire". Its resurgence today is what's apparently "cult status" as a Lesbian film, although a cultist in 2008 would probably remark on the absence of raunch.

I spotted in 1982, and saw even more clearly today, that the film has a nice Californian theme - expectations, how we handle other people's expectations, and how we turn them into competitiveness. It's really the story of Chris - how she outgrows her father's expectations, Tingloff's expectations, and even her lover Tory's expectations - to take control of what she really wants for herself, an Olympic pentathlon place. The end (BIT OF A SPOILER) is wonderful in the process, with Chris persuading the injured Tory to forget what's expected of her and go for the victory she too wants for herself.
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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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By W H GILES on 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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By A Customer on Nov. 20 2000
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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