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Goldengirl is the story of Susan Anton, played by Goldine Serafin, a tale about a great big beautiful blonde who is created by a diabolical P.R. doctor and an unscrupulous poster manufacturer and comes to conquer Hollywood in 1979. Either that or it is the story of Goldine Serafin, played by Susan Anton, a tale about a great big beautiful blonde who is created by a diabolical German doctor and an unscrupulous French psychiatrist and comes to conquer the Olympics in 1980. It is one or the other, and I am not sure that it matters which, because if you like great big beautiful blondes running about in next to nothing, you will not pause to quibble about minutiae, such as what is going on and why in the world it is.
On the other hand, there are always nit-pickers. I have a friend, a track nut, who advises me that Susan/Goldine "runs too straight up." So, in this sense, Goldengirl can be like a rabbit test to find out if you are a track nut. If you come away from the film talking about the running, you are a track nut.
But (as I was saying to the AAU the other day), it's a game of inches. And Susan Anton is a game of inches. Lovingly, then leeringly. she is photographed in her track outfits, often as not from the rear, where her shorts are always hiking up just so. Incidentally. Goldengirl runs the 100 meters in 10.91, the 200 in 20.03 and the 400 in an equivalently low, but undisclosed, figure, because, as she declares: "I'm a simple American girl who was born to win three Olympic gold medals." The further expectation is that this triple play will make small potatoes out of Mark Spitz and Bruce Jenner and produce $20 million for herself and the consortium financing her.
But Goldine is not just another one of the girls. The mad sawbones has shot her chock-full of a drug that makes rats grow as big as Airedales, so Goldengirl is 6'2", 19% stronger than pure unadulterated women, and 30 to 40 years ahead of them. She is also surrounded by a $250,000 training facility, and by all manner of support personnel, leading off with the doctor (Curt Jurgens) and the psychiatrist (Leslie Caron), who supply a one-two punch of classic Teutonic and Gallic accents that we have not had so wonderfully juxtaposed since Casablanca. "I haf not show you da affection you deserf," Herr Jurgens growls to Goldengirl. "But, ah, ze joy weel come laytair," Mlle. Caron coos to her. And you think it's tough just because you're a Gemini. No wonder Goldengirl has identity problems. She sings Slow Down, I'll Find You, and contracts a touch of diabetes.
On to Moscow!
The screenwriter, John Kohn, has done a neat job of streamlining the novel (by Peter Lear), especially by eliminating the middle of the book, which backed and filled to no good purpose. Kohn's dialogue is hardly scintillating, and the characters search vainly for the second dimension, but so what? We don't want our potboilers cluttered up with anything less than certifiably crazed doctors, greedy businessmen, nosy reporters and "the unknown blonde from Bakersfield."
Unfortunately, Goldengirl has been sabotaged by an incredibly inept job of editing. The movie jumps and starts, spraying exposition upon us. Worse, two crucial plot turns are botched. First we discover—I think we do—that the doctor is not really Goldengirl's father. All along we have been told he is, and then, in an aside tossed off as if she were asking Burger King to hold the pickles, Goldine says he isn't. And, zap, that's all of that. Moreover, one important love scene, or several of them, appear to have been dropped altogether, so that Goldengirl's affection for a marketing expert (James Coburn) seems to have no basis whatsoever. Coburn is quite fine at playing a sort of Mark McCormack with heart, but he is too long in the tooth ever to have been cast as the nubile Miss Anton's heartthrob.
For track nuts, Dwight Stones has a demanding job of acting: he must play an amateur high jumper. Bob Beamon appears as a color announcer—saying nothing of consequence and thus filling the role perfectly. Harry Guardino, as a member of the Goldengirl consortium, is a dead ringer for Joe Namath 20 years from now. John Newcombe, cast as another member of the syndicate, has been confined largely to modeling the line of clothing he endorses. It's all hokey good fun. but I would have to say that they adapted the poster from Susan Anton better than they adapted the movie from the novel.