On The Edge

  • 1985
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Sports

Masterfully photographed, tightly edited, and well acted, this ROCKY for democratic socialists details the impassioned comeback of 44-year-old distance runner Wes Holman (Bruce Dern), banned from racing 20 years previously for financial indiscretion as an amateur, but determined now to win the grueling Cielo-Sea race over Mill Valley's Mount Tamalpais to...read more

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Masterfully photographed, tightly edited, and well acted, this ROCKY for democratic socialists details the impassioned comeback of 44-year-old distance runner Wes Holman (Bruce Dern), banned from racing 20 years previously for financial indiscretion as an amateur, but determined now to win

the grueling Cielo-Sea race over Mill Valley's Mount Tamalpais to the ocean. Training under his old coach (John Marley), Wes pushes himself to the limit, while trying to come to an understanding with his unreconstructed radical leftist father (wonderfully essayed by Bill Bailey, lifelong union

organizer and Spanish Civil War veteran), who has never understood Wes's compulsion to run. (A gratuitous sexual relationship between Wes and a character played by Pam Grier is also included in one version of the film available on videocassette.) Prohibited from legally entering the race (which

features a staggered start that takes into account age and sex), Wes runs as an "outlaw." His dramatic dash for the finish is brilliantly captured by a combination of TV coverage--featuring Olympian Marty Liquori as the analyst--and inventive camera placement and movement. Suffice to say the

surprising upbeat finale has as much to do with the triumph of community as with rugged individualism. Director Rob Nilsson and Dern (a dedicated runner who competed for the University of Pennsylvania) have both run in the Dipsea, the second oldest footrace in the US, on which the film is based

and whose treacherous northern California trails are traced by Stefan Czapsky's cameras. The inspiration for Nilsson's screenplay came from three legendary distance runners: Gerry Lindgren, the teenage phenomenon who disappeared in the 1970s and whose return at the Dipsea has long been rumored;

Wes Hildreth, a classmate of Nilsson's who carefully charted his strategy for the Dipsea's course; and Norman Bright, the race's longtime record holder who returned at age 60 to win again.

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  • Released: 1985
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Masterfully photographed, tightly edited, and well acted, this ROCKY for democratic socialists details the impassioned comeback of 44-year-old distance runner Wes Holman (Bruce Dern), banned from racing 20 years previously for financial indiscretion as an… (more)

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