Today, the moment anyone gains fleeting notoriety—whether through scandal or sports or other means—the individual is likely to be offered opportunities within the reality-TV space. Back in day, however, people enjoying 15 minutes of fame were more likely to appear in movies. It was a different time, so anyone with a smidgen of celebrity could earn a shot at being a star. Take, for instance, French-born skiing champion Jean-Claude Killy, a dashing and handsome athlete who won three gold medals at the 1968 Winter Olympics. Despite lacking acting experience (or acting skill), Killy was given a cinematic vehicle all his own, the heist thriller Snow Job. Designed to showcase Killy’s alpine abilities, the movie is set at a ski resort in the Italian Alps. Killy plays a ski instructor who decides to rob the resort, and his getaway plan involves an epic ski run (specifically, zooming along the cliff edges lining a huge glacier).
Those who enjoy watching talented people navigate slopes will presumably enjoy the many scenes of Killy swishing and swooshing his way down awe-inducing mountainsides. Those who want more will be disappointed. While there’s a proper movie of sorts buttressing the ski scenes, the plot is trite in the extreme, the character development is nonexistent, and the acting is routine at best. In fact, the only performer who does much of anything interesting on camera (notwithstanding Killy’s skiing) is Vittorio De Sica, the famed Italian film director who also enjoyed a massive career as an actor. (Rest assured that De Sica did not direct Snow Job, and therefore can’t be held responsible for the thing.) Playing an insurance investigator who tracks down Killy’s character after the big robbery, De Sica is continental and exuberant whenever he appears, frequently laughing so broadly that he seems amused by private jokes of which the audience is unaware.
De Sica’s zesty screen persona exists in inverse proportion to the narcolepsy that permeates every other aspect of the film. Costars Danièle Gaubert and Cifff Potts, playing the accomplices of Killy’s character, fail to make impressions, and every human being in the movie is overshadowed by the majesty of the locations that director George Englund showcases at each possible opportunity. As a travelogue, Snow Job is attractive and slick. As a movie, it’s so vapid that it barely exists. And as a launching pad for Killy’s big-screen career—well, seeing as how he never acted again, the appropriate phrase seems to be that it was all downhill after Snow Job.