“Yowza, Yowza, Yowza!”
By Raymond Benson
This was the film that convinced audiences and critics alike that Jane Fonda could act. After appearing throughout the Sixties in glamour-girl and comic roles (Cat Ballou, Barbarella) that barely scratched the surface of what this talented actress could do, along came They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, which featured a tough, cynical, mean-spirited, and take-no-prisoners Jane Fonda as Gloria, a down-on-her-luck contestant in a Depression-era marathon dance contest. The showy role resulted in her first Best Actress Oscar nomination.
The picture also awarded Sydney Pollack his first Directing nomination; in fact, the film received a total of nine Oscar nominations, including Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress (Susannah York), and Supporting Actor (Gig Young, who won); but it did not, curiously, land a Best Picture nod. It deserved it.
The dance marathon contests in the early 1930s were