Saturday, May 16, 2009

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

Sydney Pollack, 1969 (7.8*)
This is a gut-wrenching indictment of the exploitation of everyday people during the Depression, in the name of entertainment. Does this sound familiar? Using the lure of a contest prize of $1,000 or more, venues were able to get average folks to dance non-stop (except for short restroom breaks) for days, with the last couple standing getting the prize, the rest go home empty. In this movie, emcee Gig Young, in an Oscar®-winning supporting role, shows the limits the emcees went to in order to attract fans and make the contest more interesting.

Jane Fonda burst through with her first important dramatic role here, gaining an Oscar®-nomination as the jaded dance partner to Michael Sarrazin, who is new to marathons and Fonda’s despair. Red Buttons and Bonnie Bedelia (Oscar®-nominated) are another persevering dance couple, Buttons playing a marathon vet who gives his fatherly advice to keep others going. This is a bleak but honest look at hopeless people living in desperation, grasping for the last brass ring before leaving the circus.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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