Bode Miller ﬁnished the weekend in disappointment, 8 places behind Austrian Matthias Mayer in the Sochi Men’s Downhill, after having the fastest time in two of the three training runs. There were endless shots of the 5-time US Olympian skier with shaking head, head in hands or shaking head in hands, or of him being consoled by his model wife.
While reportedly well beyond his devil-may-care years, after the event Miller stated he was satisfied with his performance and blamed the course and the weather, saying it got slower as the ﬁnals progressed, despite the fact that the silver-medallist Christof Innerhofer of Italy started ﬁve places behind him. Miller will have more chances to claim medals and set record totals, but his ﬁnal opportunity to win an Olympic downhill, still technically the tournament’s marquee event, appears to have passed.
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Alfred Hitchcock was rarely one to miss an opportunity, yet as his 1927 silent Downhill, aka When Boys Leave Home, shows, he certainly was aware of those that did. Whether he felt pity or bemusement is another question, one that could perhaps be at least partially addressed by a viewing of this ﬁlm on FilmOn’s free VOD service.
Ivor Novello portrays Roddy Berwick, the big man on campus and star rugby player at a public (in the British sense — expensive) feeder school for Oxford University. Being from a privileged background, Roddy has few concerns until he decides to cover for the indiscretions of a less ﬁnancially fortunate friend and classmate. Unfortunately, his British big daddy doesn’t buy his explanation when he gets expelled by the Voldemort-like schoolmaster, and soon his descent into the depths begins.
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This is where Hitchcock’s devilish side comes out with relish. The stage, a star-crossed ‘celebrity’ marriage, the continent, dance halls and scenes that would not be out of place in a looking-glass version of Raymond Chandler’s Farewell My Lovely — all presented with minimal narration, the director’s nascent yet already formidable visual sense at the forefront.
This was the creative polymath Novello’s follow-up to his performance in Hitchcock’s The Lodger, and it is hard not to see why he was at the height of his iconic silver screen popularity (more on that ﬁlm and Novello’s inﬂuence on David Bowie in another piece). He had adapted the script for Downhill, from a play he had co-written. Robin Irvine is striking as his regretful schoolboy chum, and Barbara Gott is also notable as the ‘Madam Michet.’
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The score seems fairly recent and is compelling, although sadly I could ﬁnd no information on the composer at this time. Bjork collaborator Schlomo recently did a live accompaniment at a London screening featuring a human beatbox chorus, so one could also keep that in mind.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the ﬁlm’s title is C’est La Vie in France. It would seem that Bode Miller is still spending time in that “World.” Downhill is available to watch free via FilmOn:
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