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Review: This 'Olympic Experience' deserves better

The documentary 'Frank & Chip: The Olympic Experience' fails to find the drama in a rich stretch of Olympics history.

August 09, 2012|By Gary Goldstein
  • American gymnast Frank Haubold at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles.
American gymnast Frank Haubold at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. (Upward Rising Development )

If it wasn't being released to coincide with London Olympic fever, it's doubtful there would be much interest — theatrical or otherwise — in the flat documentary "Frank & Chip: The Olympic Experience," which details Olympic history from 1928 through the 1940s vis-á-vis New Jersey gymnasts Frank and Irma (nickname: Chip) Haubold, the first married couple to compete in the Games together.

Director Dan Frank (the Haubolds' grandson) takes a basic, perfunctory approach to the intriguing if limited subject matter. Despite a wealth of black-and-white archival stills and footage — which make up most of the movie's visuals — the picture is saddled with plodding narration by writer-editor Jeremy Deneau plus dully-shot interviews with Frank and Chip's monotone daughter, Geraldine Celestina (Dan Frank's mother), and Robert Jochim, son of the Haubolds' friend and co-Olympic gymnast, Al Jochim.

Brief comments by ex-NFL star and Olympic athlete Willie Gault, also a producer here, add some welcome warmth.

Although most of Frank and Chip's story takes place against that landmark era from the Great Depression to World War II, there's a lack of propulsive drama to the couple's tale. Only the chilling reminder that Adolf Hitler exploited the 1936 Berlin Olympics (in which Frank and Chip participated) to further the Nazi image packs a real punch.

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"Frank & Chip: The Olympic Experience." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour. At the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.

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