Directed by Robert Towne
USA 1982


Robert Towne's Personal Best tells the story of two women who are competitors for pentathlete berths on the 1980 U.S. Olympics team--the team that did not go to Moscow. The women are attracted to one another almost at first sight, and what begins as a tentative exploration develops into a love relationship. Then the romance gets mixed up with the ferocity of top-level sports competition.

What distinguishes Personal Best is that it creates specific characters--flesh-and-blood people with interesting personalities, people I cared about. Personal Best also seems knowledgeable about its two subjects, which are the weather of these women's hearts, and the world of Olympic sports competition.

It is a movie containing the spontaneity of life. It's about living, breathing, changeable people and because their relationships seems to be so deeply felt, so important to them, we're fascinated by what may happen next. The movie stars Mariel Hemingway and Patrice Donnelly as the two women track stars, Scott Glenn as their coach, and Kenny Moore as the Olympic swimmer who falls in love with Hemingway late in the film. These four people are so right for the roles it's almost scary; it makes us sense the difference between performances that are technically excellent and other performances, like these, that may sometimes be technically rough but always find the correct emotional note.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert's review at the Chicago Sun Times located HERE


Theatrical Release: February 5th, 1982

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DVD Review: Warner - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC

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Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC
Runtime 2:07:52 
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.72 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English (CC), French, None

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary by director Towne, Glenn and Moore

• Theatrical trailer

DVD Release Date: January 8th, 2007

Keep Case
Chapters: 30



Solid dual-layered, progressive and anamorphic transfer - the type we've come to expect from Warner. There is a bit of noise but detail and colors are strong. Probably about what you might have expected - or possibly a notch higher. Regardless, I have no complaints - audio is unremarkable but efficient and there are optional English or Spanish subtitles if you'd desire.

Extras include a good commentary from director Towne with Scott Glenn and Ken Moore chipping in. Towne discusses the lesbianism in the film and its ensuing controversy. He relates a humorous story about the nudity of the female athletes and how he approached them about it. There are a few gaps where the narrative is left to run. A lot of the athleticism is also discussed with input from Moore. Also included is a theatrical trailer.

I liked this film when I saw it some 20 years ago and I still enjoyed it now. It has a kind of organic honesty and it is a true sports film covering all the positive aspects accrued from physical training and mental discipline. The gratuitous female nudity is certainly not unwelcome by this lecherous reviewer. Mariel Hemingway (a gifted athlete herself) is exceptional in the part and she brings the level of reality of the film to its high level. I enjoyed it from a nostalgic point but I think its holds up well even as a film today. For $14 this is a great bargain for film and excellent DVD value. 

Gary W. Tooze



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Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC


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