Warren Miller's career has been going downhill for half a century. Each year since 1949, when he debuted with Deep and Light, Miller, now 75, has released a documentary film devoted to Alpine adventure. His latest, Fifty, provides plenty of the adrenalized snowmanship that fleece-flaunting audiences expect from the patriarch of adventure-sports cinematography. "We call this film Fifty because that's how long I've had this career," Miller says in the movie, which is touring the country through December. (For schedules, go to mountainzone.com.) "Don't forget that a career is a job you've had too long."
Maybe, but there's no business like snow business. Miller, who as a kid in San Gabriel, Calif., delivered papers to Walt Disney's house, launched his career with a $400 loan from friends. Those four bills have snowballed into a $15 million empire, making Miller the film mogul who films moguls. His son Kurt, 40, runs the family business these days, but Warren still writes and narrates the movies.
Fifty has the signature Miller touches: awesome stunts; a go-for-it mentality salted with self-deprecating humor ("I wasn't born to ski, I was born to work," says one downhiller. "But I got laid off"); and a pounding soundtrack featuring youth-oriented bands. As the Barenaked Ladies' It's All Been Done plays in Fifty, old footage is crosscut with new, as if to acknowledge that Miller hasn't tinkered much with his formula. But then, no two snowflakes are exactly alike.