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Gloria is a young woman of the Depression. She has aged beyond her years and feels her life is hopeless, having been cheated and betrayed many times in her past. While recovering from a suicide attempt, she gets the idea from a movie magazine to head for Hollywood to make it as an actress. Robert is a desperate Hollywood citizen trying to become a director, never doubting that he'll make it. Robert and Gloria meet and decide to enter a dance marathon, one of the crazes of the thirties. The grueling dancing takes its toll on Gloria's already weakened spirit, and she tells Robert that she'd be better off dead, that her life is hopeless - all the while acting cruelly and bitterly, alienating those around her, trying to convince him to shoot her and put her out of her misery. After all, they shoot horses, don't they? Written by
In 1932, in the Great Depression, a group of hopeless people participates of a dance marathon contest on the Santa Monica Pier in California. Among them are the bitter and disillusioned Gloria (Jane Fonda); a sailor (Red Buttons) that fought in the war; the aspirant actress and actor Alice (Susannah York) and Joel (Robert Fields); the farmer James (Bruce Dern) and his pregnant wife Ruby (Bonnie Bedella); all of them expecting to win the award of US$ 1,500.00.
Gloria's partner has a threatening cough and is disqualified before the contest. However, the Master of Ceremony Rocky (Gig Young) summons the stranger Robert (Michael Sarrazin) to replace her partner and dance with Gloria. Along more than forty days, the weakest couples are disqualified from the contest. When Rocky proposes that the exhausted Gloria and Robert get married during the dance marathon to raise money with the gifts, Rocky discloses that the winners will have their expenses deducted from the prize resting almost nothing from the US$ 1,500.00. Gloria leaves the contest with Robert and asks him for an ultimate solution for her suffering.
"They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" is one of the most impressive and depressive movies I have ever seen. I read Horace McCoy's unforgettable novel when I was a fourteen year-old teenager and I recall how sad I was with this tragic story of human suffering and the comparison of people with cattle. Later I saw this movie twice on VHS (last time on 16 March 2000) and yesterday I saw it on DVD. The direction and performances are top-notch and in the end I was weirdly depressed despite knowing the story and the conclusion. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "A Noite dos Desesperados" ("The Night of the Desperate")
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