7.9/10
12,536
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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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Warren Beatty and Robert Redford were considered for the role of Robert Syverton. See more »

Goofs

The film is supposed to take place in 1932. However, during the opening sequence posters for the films Varsity Show (1937) and Off the Record (1939) can be seen outside the ballroom on the pier. See more »

Quotes

Rocky: I may not know a winner when I see one, but I sure as hell can spot a loser.
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Connections

Referenced in Melrose Place: They Shoot Mothers, Don't They? (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Easy Come, Easy Go
(1934)
Lyrics by Edward Heyman
Music by Johnny Green (as John Green)
Music played often during the film
Played on piano and Sung by Lynn Willis (uncredited)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Hard To Watch, But A Memorable Story
4 June 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

When I saw this movie in the theater over 35 years ago, I found it very interesting and one of those movies you don't forget about an hour after you leave the theater. This was a haunting type of story, especially when my folks, who went with me, informed me that these marathon type of dance contests really did happen. The characters might have been fictional, but not story of these awful contests.

Jane Fonda plays the central character, "Gloria Beatty," an angry-at-the-world and profane woman who certainly has a cynical attitude. It almost echoed her real-life persona at the time, but I won't go there. I was more fascinated with Gig Young's performance in this film as the ruthless dance promoter - emcee "Rocky." To me - and Academy Award voters - his performance stands out among all the others, even though everyone does an outstanding job. That includes director Sydney Pollack, who had only made a few movies until this one.

The deep cast in this film did not include big-name stars but they were known celebrities: actors like Michael Sarrazin, Susannah York, Red Buttons, Bonnie Bedalia, Bruce Dern and Al Lewis.

This is a sad tale of desperate people in desperate times trying to make a few extra bucks during the Great Depression years. Dancing in pairs, they literally risked their health by trying to stay on their feet by dancing longer than every other couple. One became mentally exhausted just watching these poor people on screen trying to survive these "marathons."

Like a lot of movies which deal with unpleasant topics, this is a haunting film that will leave you thinking about it for a long time afterward. I can't say I enjoyed watching it the second time around, on VHS - Fonda's nastiness too much to take - but I certainly wouldn't discourage anyone from watching this movie. It's a story about an unique event in American history guaranteed to be one you won't forget.


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