Robert Towne, director; Mariel Hemingway, actor

Personal Best (USA; 1982)

Original theatrical release one sheet movie poster


Robert Towne is best known in Hollywood for his work as a screenwriter, but in 1982 he decided to try his hand at directing one of his scripts.  The film was Personal Best, a story about a young track star named Chris (played by Mariel Hemingway) who is striving to make it on to the U.S. Olympic team.  She meets Tory (real-life athlete Patrice Donnelly), who gives her training advice and soon becomes her lover.  Although the story line is not primarily about the lesbian relationship, the love scenes brought many people to the theater who otherwise might not have seen a movie about women athletes.  The marketing campaign for the film included two promotional posters—the one shown here emphasizes the sports story, while a second poster created for the original release of the film (and clearly aimed primarily at male viewers) features the two women in wet t-shirts embracing in a shower with the tagline: “How do you compete with a body you’ve already surrendered to your opponent?”


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