Goldengirl (1979)

“Everything about me is phoney.”

Behold I bring you Goldengirl! She was made to be the best! She was programmed to do the impossible! She was the subject of a pretty damned mediocre movie. Honestly, I’m disappointed. Now in the time I’ve been doing this blog, I’ve been disappointed by movies that weren’t as good as I expected them to be on more than one occasion. But I’m not disappointed because I expected Goldengirl to be anywhere close to good. To the contrary I expected it to be absolutely terrible. Given the film’s sort-of insane premise and (a team of investors, a high-end sports agent, and a eugenics-obsessed scientist team up to create and package the next sports sensation,) and the fact that it was essentially a star vehicle for someone who never became a star, (at least I’d never heard of Susan Anton before I stumbled across this,) I was really looking forward to 90 minutes of a so-bad-it’s-good cinematic mess. I mean, just check out the trailer.

If that doesn’t look like a forehead-smacking celluloid disaster waiting to happen I don’t know what does. As a measure of how much I wanted to see this turd, and review it for you my handful of loyal readers, (Hi Mom,) I went so far as to buy it on previously-viewed VHS. Because the thing isn’t available on DVD or from any online movie service, reputable or otherwise. Of course, I also had to buy a VCR, because I haven’t watched a movie on VHS since at least three moves ago, and my old one got lost/thrown out somewhere along the way. So you’ll understand my disappointment to report that the movie is just bad. Not terrible. Not cringe-worthy. Not laugh-out-loud stupid. Just bad.  Honestly I’m not sure I can even muster the will to go on with this review.

Ok, somehow I found the will to go on.

If you’ve seen the trailer above, you basically know the entire plot of the movie, in fact you probably have a better understanding of the plot than you’d get from actually watching the movie. For those of you who might not have access to the video, Goldengirl features singer/model/”actress” Susan Anton as Goldine “Goldengirl” Serafin, she’s tall she’s beautiful, she’s a super athlete, and nobody has ever seen her before. This is because she’s apparently lived most of her life at a mountain compound run by her adoptive father/mad scientist Dr. Serafin, and financed by a handful of shady businessmen looking to cash in when she sweeps the sprints at the upcoming 1980 Olympics in Moscow. (As a side note, this film was produced and released before Jimmy Carter announced the United States would boycott said Olympic games, thus depriving the film of that potentially awesome twist ending.) As the film opens super-agent Jack Dryden (James Coburn) is brought in to start lining up sponsors for endorsement deals after Goldengirl performs the never-accomplished Olympic gold-medal triple.

As the plot unfolds Dryden investigates the bizarre training methods employed by the eugenics-spouting Dr Serafin, as well as behavior-modification specialist Dr. Lee (Leslie Caron). Of course, we find out that Serafin has spent years physically modifying Goldengirl, through hormone injections and other mumbo-jumbo as a part of his plan to publish a paper on advancing human development. Also, along the way the 50+ year-old Dryden and the twenty-something Goldengirl fall in love. Because that’s exactly what we all want to see. I guess they had to give Coburn some reason to appear in this thing.

The film actually does a half-decent job of ratcheting up dramatic tension from several sources. There’s the reporter trying to out the relationship between Goldengirl and her team of backers (this being during the era of Olympic amateurism.) There’s tension between Dr Serafin and his investors, as they learn he’s more interested in publishing his research than actually cashing in. And there’s drama as to whether Goldengirl’s modified body can hold up under the rigors of Olympic competition. Having done a half-decent job of setting up all these sources of drama, the film decides to not really pay-off on any of them, ending in a sort of empty Hollywood style, where good wins. It’s not a total Hollywood ending, because evil is not defeated. Mainly because we’re never quite sure who the bad guy is. I guess maybe it’s supposed to be Dr Serafin but even he’s not really defeated. Maybe they were trying to set up a sequel. Obviously that never happened, so we’re left with this. A bad but not awful movie. I’m left thinking that there’s something to the premise, it might be ripe for a remake or rip-off down the road. As for this film, it neither brings home a medal, nor provides a good laugh by falling on it’s face coming out of the blocks. It’s just kind of there, and it’s not worth seeing.

 [Goldengirl (1979) – Directed by Joseph Sargent – Rated PG]

One Movie | Each Day - Olympic Film Festival
OM|ED Rating: Not Worth Seeing