7.9/10
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101 user 42 critic

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)

The lives of a disparate group of contestants intertwine in an inhumanely grueling dance marathon.

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(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Robert Fields ...
Severn Darden ...
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Shirl
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Jacquelyn Hyde ...
Felice Orlandi ...
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Storyline

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 he'll make it. Robert and Gloria meet and decide to enter a dance marathon, one of the crazes of the 1930's. 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 alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

People are the ultimate spectacle

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

M | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

13 August 1970 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

El baile interminable  »

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Technical Specs

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(original) | (current)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Julie Christie and Barbra Streisand turned down the role of Gloria Beatty. See more »

Goofs

When Sailor (Red Buttons) is passed out, two referees take his pants off him to dunk him into a tub of ice water; Buttons lifts up his hips so they can easily remove his pants. See more »

Quotes

Rocky: You know somethin', Turkey? My old man never got out of the fourth grade. When it came to people, he didn't know his ass from his elbow. You know what he was? He was a faith healer. I used to travel the circuit with him. I was the one he healed. I was the shill to get the crowd set up. "Walk, my boy. When I lay my hand on you, you will walk." You will walk. Sodden old bastard. He thought it was him they believed in, but it was me.
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Connections

Referenced in Fired Up: They Sell Horses, Don't They? (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Out of Nowhere
(1931) (uncredited)
Music by Johnny Green
Played at the Dance Marathon
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Dance Marathon Macabre
19 December 2002 | by See all my reviews

Viewing "They Shoot Horses, Don't They" is like rubbernecking a horrific traffic accident, or watching a train wreck. The images, no matter how painful, are too disturbing to turn away. This movie documents the depression era pathos by showing us a glimse of a group of dance-marathon contestants battling it out for a winner-take-all purse. Their lives become symbolic of their efforts in the marathon: inexorable pain, constant cramping, and a constant questioning of just "why live in all this misery?" Eventually, the lead performances, especially those of Susanna York and Jane Fonda, show at once characters strong-willed but overcome by simple animal survival. The rest of the stellar cast captures this bleakness as well (watch a young Bonnie Bedelia sing for thrown pennies!!!). Eventually the movie painfully climaxes to let one realize the issues raised by the movie title. The film is stunning in capturing the simple struggle of humanity; it's a must-see, but only once!!!


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