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Personal Best (1982)

Mariel Hemingway , Scott Glenn , Robert Towne  |  R |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

Price: $34.74 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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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, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: January 8, 2008
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JNGN
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,749 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Personal Best" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Theatrical trailer

Editorial Reviews

Two female runners fall in love while training for the 1980 Olympics.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
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 Hemingway) competing on the track and struggling through the pains of high level competition. The technical advice given this film is marvelous, thanks in part to co-star Patrice Donnelly.
Also, the attraction between the two stars is touching and their ensuing love scenes are gentle and moving. When the two stars struggle in their 3yr long relationship, you (the viewer) struggle right along with them. Unfortunately, the two stars never address the reason for their breakup and one is left w/a feeling of incompleteness.
Scott Glenn is very convincing as the coach who falls in love w/Tory and becomes the number one jerk to keep Tory & Chris apart.
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All time favorite "jock" movie June 17, 2000
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
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 beginning of a 1000 meters, by example)are really good and beautiful. There you can see the high feelings of people that dedicates theirs lifes to win in a sport campus. Otherwise, the love scenes are delicate and very beautiful. You can feel by yourself the feelings between the two women. High feelings. What I really didn't like is the end of the love story. It is not credible and seems to be moralizing. But you have to see this picture. Great photography, great bodies. I saw it when it was new (1983, 1984, I guess) and I saw it now and I find it better than then.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful old film April 10, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I admit I am positively biased in favor of this movie. I saw it long ago when I was young and it impressed me alot in yonder days that now are long gone. Was it the nudity scenes? No, though there are enough of them to attract many an adolescent. Was it the relationship problems that connect and disconnect the personnage? Maybe. But sure it was the sports ethics that attracted me to this movie: the complicated interplay of mental and physical fitness, and how strongly psychology can impact on athletic achievements.

If you are not interested in any of these things the film might turn out a giant loss of time (130") and a disappointment on top of it. If, however, you like Mariel Hemmingway or any other actor involved this might be a good opportunity to see them at quite a young age.

The digi quality was fairly well, satisfying my humble standards at least. The sound came out quite silent, but that might be a problem with my (European!) equipment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watching again August 31, 2007
Format:VHS Tape
I found myself watching "Personal Best" again after several years. Robert Townde creates a movie of coming of age within the world of sports, focusing on the human bodies of women in training in a veritable and also erotic way. The interweaving of the love affair with the rigors of sports and competition is superb. Patrice Donnelly turns out to be the stronger actress, despite the fact that she is the sportswoman, not actress by trade. This is a classic movie as the first commercial movie with a lesbian scene - well worth seeing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive, tense, ahead of its time May 29, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Sensitive portrayal almost with more tension perhaps knowing it was addressing a relationship barely dealt with at the time and breaking much new ground even tentatively but honestly and, for the most part thoroughly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Early portrayal of lesbians in film May 11, 2013
Chris Cahill (Mariel Hemingway) is young and talented with a dream to qualify for the American track-and-field team and then go on to 1980 Olympic Games. When Chris begins training with her role model, Tory Skinner (Patrice Donnelly), she is motivated by Tory's drive to succeed.

As the women spend long hours together training, the sexual chemistry begins to grow and soon they become lovers. After Chris suffers an injury, their coach Terry (Scott Glenn) blames Tory for the accident. Luckily, Chris recovers form the injury in time for the Olympic tryouts, but this pits the lovers against each other for a coveted place on the Olympic team.

Robert Towne wrote, produced and directed this 1982 film that looks at the world of women's athletics and the challenges these athletes encounter. The US however, boycotted the Moscow Olympics for political reasons, leaving these Olympic hopefuls with only their own Personal Best performances as consolation.

Patrice Donnelly gained notoriety for her sensitive portrayal as lesbian athlete Tory Skinner in the film. As Donnelly was already a track star in her own right, she was uniquely familiar with the world of women's track-and-field. Mariel Hemingway reportedly trained an entire year in an effort to portray young bisexual athlete Chris Cahill with authenticity.

Chris Alderson
Author of the 2013 Lesbian Film Guide
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
this was what i expected
Published 1 month ago by silverman
5.0 out of 5 stars A favorite
OK to be honest there really is not much to this movie but having said that I could watch a two hour film of Mariel Hemingway reading a phone book and I'd still give it 5 stars. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Heywood Jablowme
4.0 out of 5 stars Love Mariel
Great move. For me personally, i have to get passed the Gay part and focus on the meat and potatoes of the film. Great proformance by Mariel.
Published 4 months ago by Allen W Loomis
2.0 out of 5 stars Lesbian Culture is Important...
Dude... I know this is an important movie for lesbians and bisexual women and all... but I didn't actually enjoy it that much...
Published 5 months ago by Sydney Carmen Sandiego Bristow
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Much a '70's Avante Garde Stuff
Pretty lame movie, had read so much about it at the time thought I should have it. Very dated, some good film work but the story is tortured and weak. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Liberty Blacksmith
5.0 out of 5 stars I've always wanted to find this movie. I was very happy to find it...
I've always wanted to find this movie. I was very happy to find it here. I wish I could find a DVD.
Published 6 months ago by Martin H. Hauf
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
My husband ordered this movie and he enjoyed it. He had seen it a long time ago and wanted to see it again
Published 7 months ago by Kathleen R. Grinnell
5.0 out of 5 stars good
how can you not own this.even though it ends just the way straight people think it should, it was good for the time it came out
Published 7 months ago by shari stearns
2.0 out of 5 stars not satisfied
to much nudity I hadn't seen it in 30 years and forgot about how much nudity was in the movie
Published 11 months ago by Carolyn Wicks
4.0 out of 5 stars My very first lesbian movie when it came out in the theatre.
I am hard of hearing so it needs to be Closed Captioned. That is why i rated 4 stars. Great movie to watch !!
Published 12 months ago by Bobbi Barentsen
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