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.