They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? – Sydney Pollack (1969)

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? is a 1969 American neo noir drama film directed by Sydney Pollack, starring Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Susannah York, Red Buttons, Bruce Dern, Bonnie Bedelia and Gig Young. The screenplay, adapted from Horace McCoy‘s 1935 novel of the same name, was written by James Poe and Robert E. Thompson. The film focuses on a disparate group of characters desperate to win a Depression-era dance marathon and the opportunistic emcee who urges them on. The film premiered at the 23rd Cannes Film Festival and was released theatrically in the United States on December 10, 1969. … Critics praised its direction, screenplay, depiction of the depression era, and performances, most notably of Fonda’s, which marked a significant turning point in her career. Robert Syverton (Michael Sarrazin), who had once dreamed of becoming a great film director, recalls the events leading to an unstated crime. In his youth, he saw a horse break its leg, after which it was shot and put out of its misery. Years later, in 1932 during the Great Depression, he wanders into a dance marathon about to begin in the shabby La Monica Ballroom, perched over the Pacific Ocean on the Santa Monica Pier, near Los Angeles. Robert soon finds himself recruited by Rocky (Gig Young), the contest’s promoter and emcee, as a substitute partner for a cynical malcontent named Gloria Beatty (Jane Fonda), after her original partner is disqualified because of an ominous cough. Among the other contestants competing for a prize of $1,500 in silver dollars are retired sailor Harry Kline (Red Buttons); Alice (Susannah York) and her partner Joel (Robert Fields), both aspiring actors; and impoverished farm worker James (Bruce Dern) and his pregnant wife Ruby (Bonnie Bedelia). Early in the marathon the weaker pairs are eliminated quickly, while Rocky observes the vulnerabilities of the stronger contestants and exploits them for the audience’s amusement. Frayed nerves are exacerbated by the theft of one of Alice’s dresses and Gloria’s displeasure at the attention Alice receives from Robert. In retaliation, she takes Joel as her partner, but when he receives a job offer and departs, she aligns herself with Harry. …”
Murder on The Dancefloor: Celebrating the Influence of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
Dance of the damned: They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
YouTube: They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Official Trailer #1

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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