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Without Limits

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Towne
Produced by Tom Cruise,
Paula Wagner
Written by Robert Towne,
Kenny Moore
Starring Billy Crudup,
Donald Sutherland,
Monica Potter,
Jeremy Sisto,
Matthew Lillard,
Dean Norris,
Billy Burke
Music by Randy Miller
Cinematography Conrad L. Hall
Editing by Charles Ireland,
Robert K. Lambert,
Claire Simpson
Studio Warner Bros.
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) September 11, 1998
Running time 117 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Without Limits is a 1998 biographical film about the friendship between running star Steve Prefontaine and his coach Bill Bowerman, who had co-founded Nike, Inc. Billy Crudup plays Prefontaine and Donald Sutherland plays Bowerman. The film was written and directed by Robert Towne. The film also stars Monica Potter, Jeremy Sisto, Judith Ivey, Matthew Lillard and William Mapother.

Without Limits was produced by Tom Cruise (Cruise and Mapother are cousins) and Paula Wagner of Cruise/Wagner Productions, and released and distributed by Warner Bros. Cruise originally wanted to play the role of Steve Prefontaine, but it was decided he was too old. Tommy Lee Jones turned down the part of Bill Bowerman.[1]

Due to a very low-key promotional campaign, the $25 million film grossed only $777,000 at the box office but received mostly good reviews from major critics.[2][3]

Sutherland received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor.[4]

Comparison to Prefontaine

Without Limits is often compared to Prefontaine, a similar movie on Prefontaine's life that was released a year earlier by Disney. While the two films both focus on the same events, the Disney film tells the story from the point of view of Bill Dellinger, the assistant coach who was with him day-to-day, and Nancy Alleman, Prefontaine's girlfriend at the time of his death. It includes a cast of Jared Leto as Prefontaine, Ed O'Neill as Bill Dellinger and R. Lee Ermey as Bill Bowerman. Siskel and Ebert reviewed it and gave it two thumbs up.

Without Limits is told from the point of view of Bill Bowerman (played by Donald Sutherland), with Dellinger as a minor character and Mary Marckx, who was a previous girlfriend of Prefontaine while at Oregon. In this film there is no Nancy Alleman, and Mary is his girlfriend all the way through. Bowerman is given guru status, whereas Ermey had portrayed Bowerman as more of a hard-line general-type.

In both films, Prefontaine is shown as headstrong and difficult to coach. Bowerman did remain active with the Oregon program and with Prefontaine after his retirement.


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