At the New York City High School for the Performing Arts, students get specialized training that often leads to success as actors, singers, etc. This movie follows four students from the time when they audition to get into the school, through graduation. They are the brazen Coco Hernandez, shy Doris Finsecker, sensitive gay Montgomery MacNeil, and brash, abrasive Raul Garcia. Written by
"I Sing The Body Electric" is the title and the opening line from a Walt Whitman poem from his "Leaves of Grass" anthology. See more »
After Shirley is given her yellow slip back by the woman monitoring the stairs, the slip jumps from her right to her left hand between shots. See more »
Diction! Watch your diction, Ralph. You're slurring your words.
What? Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Marlon Brando slurred his words, you know. Montgomery Cliff slurred his words. James Dean slurred his words. They were the greatest actors in the whole world and nobody could understand a word they said.
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It builds up--and then insults--its own characters
"Fame", about teenage kids in Manhattan's School for the Performing Arts, looks right, feels right, and it sometimes sounds right--but too soon the film becomes a muddled soap opera about talented children reaching too far for their stars. The large cast does good work, and director Alan Parker has alert eyes, but sharper editing might have left some of Parker's pretensions out of the mix. After one student admits to being homosexual (not just once, to a girl student, but twice, to his entire class and teacher), he is seen in tight close-up putting on lipstick; this is done for a sniggering effect, which is stupefying once you realize the ENTIRE CLASS is dolled-up to look like characters from "Rocky Horror". The gay kid, bullied by the class loudmouth, isn't the only one we see humiliated. This manufactured slapping-down is then used several more times, against the promising disco queen, the wealthy white ballerina, the talkative dancer, the stand-up comedian and the illiterate who may not graduate because of his failing grades. It's a big, smelly cart full of aged clichés. If people respond, it's due to the cinematography (which captures some of New York's squalor and dusty classrooms with a bracing realism), the propulsive soundtrack and the cynical-funny talk. The characters are quite a different matter; probably resembling no real student at the actual school, they are plot-mechanisms, their pitfalls punctuated by a director who can almost be heard saying, "Look! See!" **1/2 from ****
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