Goldengirl (1979)

PG | 104 mins | Drama | 15 June 1979

Director:

Joseph Sargent

Writer:

John Kohn

Producer:

Danny O'Donovan

Cinematographer:

Stevan Larner

Production Designer:

Sydney Z. Litwack

Production Company:

Backstage Productions
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HISTORY

       Producer Danny O’Donovan bought the screen rights to Paul Lear’s 1977 novel Goldengirl soon after publication, as announced in a 29 Jun 1977 Var news item. The lead role called for a six-foot-two-inch female super-athlete. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, up-and-coming entertainer Susan Anton was O’Donovan’s first choice, even though she was only five-foot-eleven in height and had no film credits. He based his casting decision on a “gut reaction,” after remembering her statuesque appearance at the 1975 Tokyo Music Festival where he was a judge. The film represented Anton’s motion picture debut.
       Prior to production, Anton underwent three months of workouts with technical advisor Tracy Sundlun, an Olympic track coach from the University of Colorado, as stated in an Aug 1979 Runner’s World article. Aside from developing the form of a competitive sprinter, Anton had to overcome her lack of enthusiasm for running, which she recalled, in production notes, as one of her “least favorite sports.” To lend credibility, real-life champion track and field athletes were cast as competitors, including former Olympian Annette Tannander as rival “Ursula Krull.”
       A 7 Nov 1978 DV article noted that James Coburn’s character, “Dryden,” was based on real-life sports agent, Mark McCormack.
       The production originally planned to shoot outside of the U.S. As described in a 2 Sep 1978 DV article, the filmmakers approached the organizers of the upcoming 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow, Russia, to request use of their Olympic stadium and rehearsal footage, but were denied permission. According to a Sep/Oct 1979 On ... More Less

       Producer Danny O’Donovan bought the screen rights to Paul Lear’s 1977 novel Goldengirl soon after publication, as announced in a 29 Jun 1977 Var news item. The lead role called for a six-foot-two-inch female super-athlete. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, up-and-coming entertainer Susan Anton was O’Donovan’s first choice, even though she was only five-foot-eleven in height and had no film credits. He based his casting decision on a “gut reaction,” after remembering her statuesque appearance at the 1975 Tokyo Music Festival where he was a judge. The film represented Anton’s motion picture debut.
       Prior to production, Anton underwent three months of workouts with technical advisor Tracy Sundlun, an Olympic track coach from the University of Colorado, as stated in an Aug 1979 Runner’s World article. Aside from developing the form of a competitive sprinter, Anton had to overcome her lack of enthusiasm for running, which she recalled, in production notes, as one of her “least favorite sports.” To lend credibility, real-life champion track and field athletes were cast as competitors, including former Olympian Annette Tannander as rival “Ursula Krull.”
       A 7 Nov 1978 DV article noted that James Coburn’s character, “Dryden,” was based on real-life sports agent, Mark McCormack.
       The production originally planned to shoot outside of the U.S. As described in a 2 Sep 1978 DV article, the filmmakers approached the organizers of the upcoming 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow, Russia, to request use of their Olympic stadium and rehearsal footage, but were denied permission. According to a Sep/Oct 1979 On Location article, the production undertook three weeks of set decoration at the 1952 Olympic stadium in Helsinki, Finland, until a financial setback interrupted the schedule. The 7 Nov 1978 DV noted that arenas in Munich, West Germany, and Montreal, Canada, were also considered.
       The filmmakers eventually decided to consolidate location shooting in and around Los Angeles, CA, at various athletic fields. Camp Hess Kramer, a retreat in Malibu, CA, was used for the secret training facility. The stadium at Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA, was altered to represent the Moscow arena and additional exteriors were filmed at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Castle Green Hotel in Pasadena, CA, stood in for a Moscow hotel.
       According to production notes, principal photography began 30 Oct 1978 and was scheduled for twelve weeks. A 17 Jan 1979 HR brief announced that filming had completed.
       The 10 Jun 1979 world premiere occurred in Washington, D. C., as a benefit for the U.S. Olympic Committee, as stated in a 16 Mar 1979 HR item.
       The 7 Nov 1978 DV article reported that two-thirds of the film’s $7 million budget came through pre-selling television rights for network, cable and syndication. To coincide with its exclusive coverage of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) wanted to present Goldengirl as a special four-hour, two-part television movie. During pre-production, producer O’Donovan expanded the shooting script to cover enough footage for the 184-minute televised version. Director Joseph Sargent explained in a 16 Jul 1979 DV column that the extended cut would address the Nazi affiliation of “Dr. William Serafin.”
       Some reviewers mentioned the forthcoming longer tele-film as a possible explanation of why the theatrical version seemed uneven. The 14 Sep 1979 LAT review described the picture as “disjointed” and the 20 Jun 1979 Var referred to “large story gaps.” Critics indicated that the role of actress Jessica Walter, who appeared on production cast lists but not the final screen credits, was cut from the feature film.
       Reviews, such as the 15 Jun 1979 HR, also faulted the film for its unconvincing Olympic setting, which was deemed truly implausible after the US and other countries boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games in protest over Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan. Consequently, NBC cancelled its Olympic programming, as reported in a 17 Feb 1980 NYT article, and postponed the broadcast of Goldengirl. According to a 4 Jan 1981 LAT listing, the network premiere was rescheduled for 8 Jan 1981, in a three-hour time period.
       Susan Anton received a Golden Globe nomination for New Star of the Year.
      End credits contain the following acknowledgement, “Limited sports footage provided by ABC Sports.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Sep 1978.
---
Daily Variety
7 Nov 1978
p. 1, 19.
Daily Variety
18 Dec 1978.
---
Daily Variety
16 Jul 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jan 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 1979.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Sep 1979
Section F, p. 32.
Los Angeles Times
4 Jan 1981
Section Q, p. 5.
New York Times
15 Jun 1979
p. 10.
New York Times
17 Feb 1980
Section D, p. 37, 40.
On Location
Sep/Oct 1979
p. 13.
Runner's World
Aug 1979
pp. 62-63.
Variety
29 Jun 1977.
---
Variety
20 Jun 1979
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Avco Embassy Pictures Corp. in association with Elliott Kastner and Danny O'Donovan Present
A Joseph Sargent Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Asst dir trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Stillman
Elec gaffer
Key grip
Best boy
2d grip
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Visual des consultant
Graphic artist
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Set des
Const coord
Const foreman
Standby painter
Leadman
Asst prop master
COSTUMES
Cost supv
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd eff ed
Re-rec mixer
Dolby Stereo consultant
Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles by
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Prod assoc
Asst to Mr. O'Donovan
Prod coord
Loc mgr
Dial coach
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Craft service
Post prod supv
Post prod asst
Unit pub
Prod accountant
Tech adv
Asst prod accountant
Secy to dir
Mobile driver
Cinema caterer driver
Prod finance exec
Avco-Embassy representative
CFI contact man
VTR man
Extras casting
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
COLOR PERSONNEL
Color by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Goldengirl by Peter Lear (London, 1977).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Slow Down I'll Find You," sung by Susan Anton, lyrics by Carol Connors and Bill Conti, music by Bill Conti.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Golden Girl
Release Date:
15 June 1979
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Washington, D.C: 10 June 1979
New York opening: 15 June 1979
Los Angeles opening: 14 September 1979
Production Date:
30 October 1978--mid January 1979
Copyright Claimant:
Avco Embassy Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
23 July 1979
Copyright Number:
PA43644
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo®
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®/Prints by CFI
Duration(in mins):
104
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25590
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In May 1980, prominent sports agent, Jack Dryden, is approached about representing a talented and attractive sprinter named Goldine “Goldengirl” Serafin. Since childhood, Goldine has been conditioned to be a champion runner, with the one goal of winning Olympic gold medals in the 100, 200 and 400-meter races, a triple feat that has never been accomplished by a female track athlete. Dr. William Serafin, a German medical scientist who adopted Goldine at an early age, has spearheaded her development. Based on decades of researching runners’ physiology, Serafin believes that track champions are evolving with gradual linear growth and Goldine, at a height of six-foot-two inches, embodies the future. To finance $800,000 worth of training, the doctor has relied on a consortium of investors that seek to profit from the venture through merchandising. Dryden listens with interest, but also skepticism, knowing that winning an Olympic sprint triple is one of the most difficult feats in track and field because it involves twelve world-class heats over five days. At a secluded training facility, Dryden is introduced to Goldine and her entourage, which includes psychologist Dr. Sammy Lee and track coach Pete Winters. Dryden also learns about their unusual training methods, involving electric shock therapy at the starting block and mock press conferences. The next day, Dryden attends a track meet in San Diego, California, to watch Goldine compete in her first race, where she must set times good enough for the Olympic trials. Although appearing strong in the initial heat, she fails to qualify for the 100-meter race after making a simple technical error. In the stands, Serafin ... +


In May 1980, prominent sports agent, Jack Dryden, is approached about representing a talented and attractive sprinter named Goldine “Goldengirl” Serafin. Since childhood, Goldine has been conditioned to be a champion runner, with the one goal of winning Olympic gold medals in the 100, 200 and 400-meter races, a triple feat that has never been accomplished by a female track athlete. Dr. William Serafin, a German medical scientist who adopted Goldine at an early age, has spearheaded her development. Based on decades of researching runners’ physiology, Serafin believes that track champions are evolving with gradual linear growth and Goldine, at a height of six-foot-two inches, embodies the future. To finance $800,000 worth of training, the doctor has relied on a consortium of investors that seek to profit from the venture through merchandising. Dryden listens with interest, but also skepticism, knowing that winning an Olympic sprint triple is one of the most difficult feats in track and field because it involves twelve world-class heats over five days. At a secluded training facility, Dryden is introduced to Goldine and her entourage, which includes psychologist Dr. Sammy Lee and track coach Pete Winters. Dryden also learns about their unusual training methods, involving electric shock therapy at the starting block and mock press conferences. The next day, Dryden attends a track meet in San Diego, California, to watch Goldine compete in her first race, where she must set times good enough for the Olympic trials. Although appearing strong in the initial heat, she fails to qualify for the 100-meter race after making a simple technical error. In the stands, Serafin and her coaches are shocked by the sudden setback, while the consortium express concern about their investment. Inspired to see her enormous talent continue, Dryden uses his connections with the race organizer to increase the number of competitors in the 100-meter final so that Goldine becomes eligible. Making the most of her second chance, Goldine wins the 100-meter along with the 200 and 400-meter sprints, all with Olympic-qualifying times. Knowing that a formidable performance by an unknown runner will raise questions, Dryden arranges a dope test for Goldine. She passes, but Dryden tells Goldine that he needs to understand her better, beyond her rehearsed speeches, if she is going to be his client. During a walk on the beach, Goldine speaks openly and discloses details of her intensive training regimen, including iron injections she received until the age of sixteen. As her performance in San Diego makes sports headlines, Dryden officially agrees to handle merchandising, estimating that he can bring in $20 million. At the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, Goldine dominates the three sprints again. Meanwhile, Dryden consults with Dr. Walsh, an expert in human growth research, and begins to suspect that Serafin might have used a hormone to artificially stimulate Goldine’s height. Later, Dryden presents to the consortium and Serafin possible advertising campaigns, the contracts of which will be contingent upon Goldine winning all three Olympic sprints. However, Dryden is concerned that if Serafin publishes his scientific findings on growth and athletic performance, Goldine will be perceived as a “guinea pig” experiment, damaging the wholesome image they want to promote. Reluctantly, Serafin agrees to delay publication in order to protect Goldine’s earning potential. In practices and races leading up to the Olympics, Goldine looks tired and complains that her legs feel unusually heavy, but Serafin dismisses her sluggishness as anxiety. Meanwhile, Goldine’s celebrity profile flourishes in magazines and newspapers, and the press anticipates an Olympic rivalry between her and East German sprinter, Ursula Krull, who is also vying for the same triple. During bed rest, Goldine admits to Dryden that she is attracted to him, and they begin an intimate relationship. Later, with Dr. Lee and Goldine in attendance, Dryden confronts Serafin about the hormone injections, which were described to Goldine as iron supplements. When she realizes that her height and perhaps talent is not natural, she is furious with her adoptive father. Furthermore, Dryden reveals that sixteen years worth of hormone experiments have caused Goldine to become diabetic, which explains her recent fatigue. Serafin assures his daughter that her mild diabetic condition can be controlled with insulin, allowing her to compete. Although Dryden has doubts that her condition has stabilized, Goldine stubbornly returns to training. At the summer Olympics in Moscow, the consortium anticipates millions in profit as Goldine beats Krull to win the gold medal in the 100-meter final. After the race, Dryden is shocked and hurt when Goldine becomes unusually temperamental with him and orders him to “kiss her feet,” now that she is a gold medal winner. Later, he is informed by a specialist that her irrational behavior indicates a likely blood sugar imbalance. After additional violent outbursts, Dryden and Dr. Lee become more concerned that her diabetic condition is not stabilized, so they consult with the U.S. team physician, Dr. Dalton. However, Dalton informs them that Goldine’s tests are normal, and there is no medical reason to disappoint U.S. fans by cancelling her performance. At the start of the 200-meter final, Goldine takes glucose tablets to prevent diabetic shock and narrowly emerges the winner in a photo finish with Krull. However, before the 400-meter final, Goldine sees Krull watching her with suspicion as she is about to swallow the tablets, so Goldine throws them away. Dryden and the rest of her entourage notice and become alarmed. While Goldine waits for the start gun, her hands shake. During the race, she is disorientated, but manages to win and capture the triple. Afterward, Goldine speaks at a press conference, responding flawlessly to questions, just as she rehearsed at the training facility. Instead of being excited for her victory, Dryden appears dispirited by the experience and watches from the back as the media asks Goldine about her collapse at the end of the 400-meter final. When a reporter inquires about a special man in her life, she looks to find Dryden, but he is already gone. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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