Personal Best (1982): Robert Towne’s Female Sports Movie (LGBTQ, Lesbian)

Written, produced and directed by Robert Towne, Personal Best concerns a group of women trying to qualify for the American track-and-field team in the 1980 Olympic Games.

Despite their commitment to their training regimen, their dreams are thwarted when the US announces its boycott of the Games for political reasons, leaving them with only the informal “personal best” marks they achieved during training.

The movie starred Mariel Hemingway and real-life track star Patrice Donnelly, along with Scott Glenn as the coach of the track team.

The film was praised for offering a realistic look at the world of women’s athletics, for exploring the complex relationships among teammates and their coach, and for its sensitive portrayal of the relationship between an older lesbian (Donnelly) and a younger bisexual woman (Hemingway).

Despite decent reviews, the movie was a box-office failure.