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Robert Redford Tag

After a more than a decade in Hollywood 33-year-old Robert Redford broke through as a major star in 1969’s smash hit Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. But he had two other key roles that year. One was in Tell Them Willie Boy is Here, a Western whose social consciousness is embedded in his multi-hyphenate career. The other, Downhill Racer, defines a facet of his screen personality, and has received the Criterion Collection treatment on standard DVD.

Outside of Butch Cassidy and The Sting, Redford has always been one of the most introspective stars—not for him the more declarative, chest-beating style of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, or other actors of his remarkable generation. He’s inwards, not outwards. Cautious—and, in the eyes of some critics, vague, or timid. (Brad Pitt, the star of Redford’s A River Runs Through It and co-star in Spy Game, was once called “the new Robert Redford,” but it’s as difficult to imagine Redford appearing in True Romance, Twelve Monkeys, and Inglourious Basterds as it is thinking of Pitt for The Way We Were, The Great Gatsby, or Out of Africa.) But these qualities are all pluses for the character of skier David Chappellet, who takes his place on the U.S. Ski Team, but is far from a team player.

Truth is, the close-to-unlikable Chappellet is a bit of a prick, whose dedication to his ego rivals his commitment to his sport. As the team heads to Europe he’s thoughtless to his teammates, and the women who drift through his life (principally Camilla Sparv, who in real life was a former wife of Paramount Pictures chief Robert Evans, and in this film is a challenge to any athlete’s “self-denial”). The head coach, well-played as always by Gene Hackman, is irritated by his attitude, as he tries to keep the team together and rattles his tin cup looking for funding. Plot is minimal in a script written by novelist James Salter—the only hint we get at what drives, and also deforms, the restless, self-defensive Chappellet is a tense visit with his father (non-professional Walter Stroud), a flinty Coloradoan who grouses that he doesn’t get the point of winning without compensation.

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The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recently offered its one cent to married couples struggling through the current recession. (It used to offer two, of course, but everybody’s cutting back these days.) On its For Your Marriage website the USCCB lists “Ten Cheap Dates” that won’t cost you and your spouse an arm and a leg, which, incidentally, will be the new currency once the federal government runs out of bailout money and is forced to shut down the U.S. Mint.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are some of the website’s date ideas:

“Tech-free” night. Turn off your cell phones, computer, the TV, and the lights. See what’s left to do without electricity. Sing old songs, have a pillow fight, recount stories of how you met, plan for the future.

I’m not married, but if my girlfriend, Aimiee, and I were to turn off the lights and “see what’s left to do,” I doubt it’d be a pillow fight, which is a dangerous thing to do in the dark. I once read that most household accidents occur in the household, and that those accidents can lead to hospitals, which still charge lots and lots of money for their services. (Luckily, they’ll be able to pay for everything themselves once that arm-and-a-leg currency becomes the norm.)

Let me state the obvious: the Catholic bishops know you’re going to fool around once the lights are off, but you may recall that they’re not big on birth control. Condoms can be expensive, so they have a point, but keep in mind that once the result of your “tech-free” power surge pops out around Christmas, you’ll still be tech-free because of all the costs that come with a new baby. In other words, don’t expect to be lighting up your Christmas tree this year, let alone buying one.