The 5,000m runner, Steve Prefontaine, represented the US at the 1972 Munich Olympics, but despite expectations failed to pick up even a Bronze medal. Then again, when he died at the age of 24, he held seven US records between 2,000 and 10,000m. The rest, as they say, is footnotes. Judging by Robert Towne's fine, rather old-fashioned film, the athlete's association with his coach Bill Bowerman afforded him this belated honour - not least because Bowerman took the running shoe he tinkered up for his favourite student and turned it into Nike's designer footwear. Produced by Tom Cruise, the film tells of a young man who simply loved to run from the front, and a coach (Sutherland) who tried to instill some sophistication in him. It's a long time since Towne matched the calibre of his screenplays for Chinatown and The Last Detail, but he's still a solid bet for three-dimensional characters; as a director, his third effort has a fluidity and coherence lacking in Personal Best and Tequila Sunrise. The understated cinematography by Conrad Hall and sterling work from Crudup and Sutherland lend a patina of class, yet it's in the end a po-faced film; you can't help thinking Ron (Tin Cup) Shelton wouldn't have abandoned these characters to their pedestals without a joke or two.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Robert Towne, Kenny Moore|