A fifteen year marriage dissolves, leaving both the husband and wife, and their four children, devastated. He's preoccupied with a career and a mistress, she with a career and caring for ... See full summary »
The passionate romance between an Irish-American man and a Japanese-American woman is threatened when the Pearl Harbor attacks happen and the woman is forced into a prison camp because of her ethnicity.
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 eight students from the time when they audition to get into the school, through graduation. Among these are the brazen Coco Hernandez, shy Doris Finsecker, sensitive gay Montgomery MacNeil, and brash, abrasive Ralph Garcy.Written by
Albert Hague was an actual teacher at Fiorello LaGuardia High School when he was hired almost on a whim by the producers to play Benjamin Shorofsky, a role that resurrected his acting career. See more »
When Coco is doing her screen test for François Lafete, her hair is shown falling over her left shoulder as seen through the camera viewfinder. In the direct shot her hair is off the shoulder. See more »
I love so many aspects of this film that I'm surprised it doesn't have a higher average rating. From its very beginning, with a brilliant audition sequence that has director Alan Parker switching between a number of characters and scenes, the film had me. Soon afterwards he hits it with the first of the musical numbers, an impromptu song and dance that breaks out in the lunch room, which captures the power of creative people feeding off one another. How that leads to the quieter girl (Maureen Teefy) escaping the noise to sit with a sensitive young man (Paul McCrane) and start up a friendship is also very nice.
'Fame' was ahead of its time in giving us a diverse cast, and that's in a lot of ways - race, language, body shape, sexual orientation, and economic background. It really captures the spirit of New York, and this is heightened by shots on the streets and in the subway. There are so many items it touches on - homophobia, abuse, violence, sexual harassment, and abortion. It celebrates the beauty of the arts, while at the same time cautioning just how difficult it is to make a career out of them. Its spirit is infectious, and it's filled with poignant moments.
Parker effectively uses an ensemble cast, each of whom contributes, but Barry Miller stands out as Ralph Garci, with a number of fine scenes: his impromptu acting during the audition ("I'm God, see?"), his recounting the pain of finding out Freddie Prinze had died, his telling his friends the real truth about his father, his lashing out a priest after his 5-year-old sister is assaulted ("Since when are you in the thinking business?"), and in bombing at a standup comedy club. It's a brilliant, powerful performance.
Irene Cara sings on a number of the tracks, including the wonderful title song, and also provides a heartbreaking moment when she's lured into posing topless in the apartment of a man posing as an indie film director. There are so many dangers that surround these kids, and the honesty of this predatory scene is a forerunner to the #metoo movement. It's too bad it's offset somewhat by Parker himself giving us two immature voyeuristic scenes of the boys peering into the girls changing room.
McCrane's descriptions of his growing sexual awareness, and the reaction he relates from his therapist ("He said it was probably a life choice"), is also touching. I liked the simple earnestness with which he portrayed this character, and his scene consoling Ralph Garci at the end (where Garci says "How do you know if you're good? Maybe you never know").
Without going through the rest of the big cast, I'll just add that I loved Jim Moody as the drama teacher, and wished his role hadn't tailed off after the sophomore year. That is one of the film's weaknesses - stories are unfinished and characters either disappear or certainly aren't all wrapped up with a big bow as in other movies - but this is also a strength in some ways. It gives the film the sense of how memories from the past are, and the ambiguity leaves it to us to imagine how the characters' lives played out. I think of 'Fame' as a collection of great moments, highlighting the arts, the human spirit, and growing up in a tough world which has so much danger and disappointment. Heartfelt and captivating, it's a great film.
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