The Ski Bum


1h 34m 1971

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1971
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Avco Embassy Pictures Corp.; Moving Picture Company
Distribution Company
Avco Embassy Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Vail, Colorado, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Ski Bum by Romain Gary (New York, 1965).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Synopsis

At Colorado ski resort New Day, ski bum Johnny Cochran spends a pleasant afternoon tobogganing with resort hostess Samantha, whom he has just met. Later that afternoon, Sam welcomes New York financier Burt Stone, his wife Liz and their children, thirteen-year-old Lisa and eight-year-old Brad, to New Day. Aware that Stone is maneuvering to buy the resort and wanting to assist him, Sam unnerves current owner Golda Lanning by asking if the Stones may hire a ski instructor not employed by New Day. That evening after Johnny spends some time smoking marijuana with his friends Maxwell Enderby and Roger, he meets Sam, who invites him to her condominium for drinks. After a romantic interlude, Sam asks Johnny if he would teach the Stones to ski, but he refuses, explaining that he dislikes being caught up in the resort lifestyle with its demanding, wealthy clientele. After a night with Sam, however, Johnny changes his mind and spends the morning with Liz, Lisa and Brad, disconcerted by young Lisa's bold flirting and her mother's quieter attentions. Unable to avoid attending lunch with the Stones, Johnny is uncomfortable when Stone introduces him to boisterous businessmen from the area, including Rod Gordon, Randy and Marty. Johnny then visits Sam, who is cool when he admits he did not remain to dine with the Stones because of his discomfort with their constant business talk. Sam counsels Johnny to accept the Stones' friendship, as they could be very helpful to him. The next day, Liz reproaches Johnny for not dining with them and he warily accepts a job for Stone delivering and playing a tape recording to a businessman in Aspen. While using the Stone limousine for the delivery, Johnny explores buying some marijuana, but as he closes a deal, plainclothes police arrive and question Johnny, then arrest the dealers. When Johnny mentions he works for Stone, however, he is allowed to go. That night, Johnny tries to return the tape to Stone, who is throwing a large party that he insists Johnny attend. Lavishing praise on Johnny for getting the tape to the man in Aspen, Stone then introduces him to other men, including land commission representative Dr. Walter Graham. Troubled by the implication that Stone's plans for purchasing New Day might be dishonest, Johnny lingers at the edge of the party hoping to depart with Sam, but she insists on staying. The next day, Johnny returns to the slopes and is uncomfortable when he is cheerfully acknowledged by many of Stone's associates. Later, he meets Sam, who relays that Stone would like Johnny to make another tape delivery to Denver. When Johnny hesitates, Sam reminds him that Stone's influence prevented Johnny from possible arrest with the marijuana dealers. At lunch, Johnny and Sam join Stone, who is seated with his cronies and Otto Takashita, whom Sam introduces as her husband. The men eagerly discuss government land restrictions and the possibility of merging other resort chains. Disturbed by the business talk and dismayed by Sam's revelation, Johnny departs to ski. Racing recklessly through several crowded areas, Johnny is stopped and cautioned by the ski patrol until Golda intervenes to offer him a job with the patrol. Max and two hippie friends, who have been making an amateur film around the resort, mock Johnny for talking with Golda. Embarrassed, Johnny rudely refuses the job, but Golda says the offer remains open. With mounting anxiety over the stress of remaining connected with the corporate-minded Stones and his free-wheeling friends who feel he has let them down, Johnny grows increasingly isolated. Returning to the slopes to clear his mind, Johnny runs into Liz, Lisa and Brad and consents to provide a lesson, while steadfastly ignoring both Liz's and Lisa's continual efforts to flirt with him. Agreeing to meet Liz at the Stone condominium later, Johnny arrives early and is greeted by Lisa, who sets about trying to woo him. Johnny smothers his anxiety over Lisa's behavior when Liz arrives, but then departs abruptly. That evening, Johnny goes to a local bar and is dismayed to find numerous Stone cronies, including Graham, who drunkenly praises Johnny for choosing to work for Stone. Although still upset by the knowledge of Sam's marriage, Johnny is relieved when she arrives at the bar. After Graham frets that the Stone land deal with New Day will have an adverse effect on many locals, he collapses and Sam and Johnny take him to his cottage. Johnny then spends the night with Sam. The next morning Sam reminds Johnny of a special party that night given by the Stones, but when he returns to pick her up, he is dismayed to find that Otto has returned. The trio sets off for the Stones', who have set up a sauna party, filling the entire premise with heat and steam. At the height of the party, Stone announces his successful purchase of New Day and appoints Rod the new manager. To Johnny's amazement, Stone then announces that he has hired Graham as a consultant and also Golda, who will be transferring to another Stone resort property in Las Vegas. Stone then assures Johnny he is part of the family and will always have a job. Repulsed that Stone has so easily purchased the loyalty of everyone concerned with New Day, Johnny flares with anger when Sam reminds him that he has been nothing but an "errand boy" and should appreciate the job offer. Nettled by Otto's continued presence, Johnny departs and goes to Max's, where his friends ostracize him for associating with Sam and Stone. Depressed, Johnny leaves, but walking back to his apartment, is accosted by the now freed drug dealers who beat him unconscious. Johnny awakens the next morning in a helicopter with Sam and Stone, who are going high-altitude skiing. Believing Johnny was passed out drunk, Stone cheerfully teases him. The trio then spends the entire day skiing the pristine, solitary mountaintops. Late in the afternoon, the helicopter returns and Johnny bids farewell to Stone and Sam, choosing to ski down the mountain alone. As night falls, a despondent Johnny reaches a closed ski lift and, starting the machinery, rides part of the way back up a mountain before he falls off. As snow begins falling, Johnny finds a phone booth and telephones Sam to ask to see her. She reminds him that Otto is still with her but promises to see him in a couple of days. Paralyzed by indecision, Johnny remains in the phone booth as snow continues falling.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1971
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Avco Embassy Pictures Corp.; Moving Picture Company
Distribution Company
Avco Embassy Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Vail, Colorado, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Ski Bum by Romain Gary (New York, 1965).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Although the onscreen credits include a 1970 copyright statement for Avco Embassy Pictures Corp., the film was not registered for copyright. Onscreen cast credits read "Introducing Lori Shelle," but Shelle appeared previously in the 1969 Paramount production Good-bye Columbus. The closing credits indicate that the film was submitted as a UCLA, Motion Picture Division Thesis Project. The Ski Bum was shot on location in Vail, CO, according to contemporary sources.
       According to a November 1964 Hollywood Reporter news item, Embassy Pictures purchased the rights to Romain Gary's novel The Ski Bum, which was then set to go into production the following year in France and Switzerland. A May 1966 Daily Variety item announced that Martin Poll had been selected as the producer of the film, which had been rescheduled to begin shooting in 1966 in "the ski capitals of the world." However, production was postponed again, and a June 1967 Daily Variety news item stated that with Anatole Litvak as director and Peter O'Toole starring in a script by Sidney Carroll, production would commence in Switzerland the following Sep. A Daily Variety article stated that because of further scripting difficulties, Poll, O'Toole and other crew connected with the The Ski Bum would be reassigned to The Lion in Winter. A brief February 1968 Hollywood Reporter item indicated that Embassy had sued Litvak for breach of contract. The outcome of the suit has not been determined. In 1967 producer Joseph E. Levine sold Embassy Pictures to Avco, which then became Avco Embassy Pictures Corp.
       In September 1968, Variety reported that Hollis Alpert had been hired to rewrite the Carroll treatment and Martin Schute set to produce with Leonard Lightstone as executive producer. Bernard Kowalski was announced as the director. A separate September 1968 Variety announced that Christopher Jones had been cast in the lead role. Filmfacts stated that, in addition to O'Toole and Jones, Warren Beatty and Jon Voight were considered for the starring role. In 1969 Levine turned over the project to three UCLA graduate students, David R. Dawdy, Bruce Clark and Marc Siegler, who rewrote and completed the film. Musician and songwriter Jackson Browne made a cameo appearance in the film, marking his first onscreen appearance. In addition, the director Penelope Spheeris had a small role in The Ski Bum, marking her second film acting appearance.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1970

Released in United States 1970