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They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)


UMO1982
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One of the best films to capture the look and feel and sound of the Great Depression.  And one of the few films to center on a dance marathon. I read that the film holds the record for the most Oscar nominations without getting a best film nomination.

161214_they_shoot_banner2.jpg.fc12a9f508ec1249abfae5805bff1be8.jpg

Superb performances by Jane Fonda as the beaten-down Gloria, Gig Young as the cynical host, Red Buttons as the old sailor, Susannah York as the actress, Bonnie Bedelia as the pregnant woman, and there's also Michael Sarrazin, Robert Fields, Bruce Dern, Allyn Ann McLerie, Michael Conrad, Madge Kennedy, Al Lewis, Mary Gregory, Jacqueline Hyde, Art Metrano, Ian Abercrombie, etc.

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I watched it again last year for the first time since seeing the theatrical release in 1969.  I had read an article about Gig Young who won the Supporting Oscar for his terrific performance and tracked it down.  It was Jane Fonda's first Oscar nomination, and my second favorite of her performances.   I was also surprised it didn't get a Best Pic Oscar nod (after all, it was much better than Hello, Dolly!) and was pleased that Sydney Pollack was nominated for Director.  One of my Top 10 favorites of the 1960s.

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56 minutes ago, filmnoirguy said:

I watched it again last year for the first time since seeing the theatrical release in 1969.  I had read an article about Gig Young who won the Supporting Oscar for his terrific performance and tracked it down.  It was Jane Fonda's first Oscar nomination, and my second favorite of her performances.   I was also surprised it didn't get a Best Pic Oscar nod (after all, it was much better than Hello, Dolly!) and was pleased that Sydney Pollack was nominated for Director.  One of my Top 10 favorites of the 1960s.

I'd forgotten about Dolly being up that year. FOX shelled out a lot of money to get Dolly a nomination and it worked. That's probably why Horses didnt.

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1 minute ago, Sepiatone said:

Well, I thought it was because the academy is a sucker for "feel good" fulla fluff musicals.  ;) 

Sepiatone

At first I believe you were being sarcastic with regards to They Shoot Horses Don't They,  but now I see you were referencing the above post and Hello  Dolly.

But I was going to make a similar point:  that They Shoot Horses Don't They is a rather grim \ dark film and while moving, well acted and directed and a first rate production, Academy voters often lean towards "feel good" films.

 

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The “book” by GORACE MCKOY on which the movie I s based is included in an awesome collection of 30’s crime novels I own. 

its a novella at best and has A LOT of strange chapter headings that take up entire pages. I think it may even be 1.5 spaced and in an extra large print.


I’ve never seen such a conscious effort to blow a story so slender up to get it to qualify as a “novel.“

(Well, except for maybe THE GREAT GATSBY)

Its an ok read but could have been more. 

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Wanna get real depressed?

Watch this movie and then The Last Picture Show back to back.

Not sayin' here that they're not both terrific films, but oh wee, I still remember distinctly how down in the dumps I felt and with a feeling of "Boy, life sucks and then you die, huh?!" as I walked out of the movie theater after watching them during their initial releases.

(...btw...ever wonder why TSH,DT? seems the high point of Michael Sarrazin's career?...thought he'd be a bigger star than he'd turn out to be after watching this film back in the day)

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Well, I'd say his taking the job in the turkey  SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION('71)  and then later in THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD ('75) probably didn't help.  Not HIS fault those flicks were horrible though.  But that's how it is in "the biz".  

And notice nobody included those two flicks in the " '70's classics" thread.  ;) 

Sepiatone

 

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Not a big fan of Red Buttons, but he's terrific in this film.  He scored a Golden Globe nom but didn't get the Oscar bid. Interesting that if he had been nominated along with Gig Young, the winner might have been someone different. 

Young and Buttons would have been up against Jack Nicholson for EASY RIDER, Anthony Quayle for ANNE OF THE THOUSAND DAYS, and Elliott Gould for BOB AND CAROL AND TED AND ALICE. Buttons would likely have replace Rupert Crosse for THE REIVERS.  Nicholson and Gould were in "counter-culture" films and Quayle for an historical drama. Ig Buttons and Young had canceled each other out, who might have won??

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You know, Actors and actresses and lots of others in "the biz" like giving lip service to the notion that awards like the Oscar aren't important(though they never state that opinion unless they don't win  ;) )  and I'd like it a whole lot if the membership on these boards adopted the same attitude.  ;) 

A lot ACT as if they too, think the award isn't that important, but seem to never hesitate to point out that some movie either won or didn't and opine on which movie or actor SHOULD have won.  :blink:

Sepiatone

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So how many films made during the Depression actually depicted dance marathons?

I know of one, HARD TO HANDLE (1933), with James Cagney as a  promoter of one. Allen Jenkins has the Gig Young role as the MC with running commentary including jokes (in reference to one dance couple: "Both of them were born and raised in the hill country. This is the first thing they've ever done on the level.") Two falls and you're out are the rules of this contest and as the film opens the marathon is down to the final two couples, both dragging their feet (Mary Brian is in one, Sterling Holloway in the other).

cagney443a.jpg?w=584

So does anyone know of any other films of the era that featured a dance marathon, or does this Warner Bros. B stand alone as the only one to reflect the craze?

 

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13 hours ago, TomJH said:

So how many films made during the Depression actually depicted dance marathons?

I know of one, HARD TO HANDLE (1933), with James Cagney as a  promoter of one. Allen Jenkins has the Gig Young role as the MC with running commentary including jokes (in reference to one dance couple: "Both of them were born and raised in the hill country. This is the first thing they've ever done on the level.") Two falls and you're out are the rules of this contest and as the film opens the marathon is down to the final two couples, both dragging their feet (Mary Brian is in one, Sterling Holloway in the other).

cagney443a.jpg?w=584

So does anyone know of any other films of the era that featured a dance marathon, or does this Warner Bros. B stand alone as the only one to reflect the craze?

 

May be.  I can't find any info about any other movies on the subject.  :(

Sepiatone

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25 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

May be.  I can't find any info about any other movies on the subject.  :(

Sepiatone

I get the strong impression that dance marathons, despite the national headlines, were not a subject that Hollywood chose to explore during the Depression years. The truth is I don't even know of any post-Depression films either, with the exception of They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, done more than three decades after the craze had died.

That's why I wonder if Hard to Handle, a typically fast moving little WB 1933 "B" done largely for high spirited laughs, though it's clearly a reflection of its time with Cagney's various schemes to come up with money, including the dance marathon which starts the film, is actually a unique production in that respect.

I did read that movie theatres didn't like the dance marthons because the crowds attending them were taking money away from them. Could it be that Hollywood ignored the marthons simply because they considered it promotion for the "opposition" when it came to entertainment bucks?

1280px-Dance_marathon,_1923.jpg

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From Wikipedia:

In 1928, Seattle passed an ordinance prohibiting dance marathons within city limits when a woman attempted suicide after competing in a 19-day marathon and receiving 5th place. Other states followed Seattle's precedent shortly after. Although marathons were extremely popular, they were also dangerous. During a marathon in the 1920s, a man named Homer Morehouse was the first contestant to dance in the marathon, but after dancing for 87 hours, he collapsed from exhaustion and died on the dance floor.

I wonder if these facts influenced the screenplay of They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

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14 minutes ago, TomJH said:

I get the strong impression that dance marathons, despite the national headlines, were not a subject that Hollywood chose to explore during the Depression years. The truth is I don't even know of any post-Depression films either, with the exception of They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, done more than three decades after the craze had died.

That's why I wonder if Hard to Handle, a typically fast moving little WB 1933 "B" done largely for high spirited laughs, though it's clearly a reflection of its time with Cagney's various schemes to come up with money, including the dance marathon which starts the film, is actually a unique production in that respect.

I did read that movie theatres didn't like the dance marthons because the crowds attending them were taking money away from them. Could it be that Hollywood ignored the marthons simply because they were competing with them for the scarce money everyone wanted?

1280px-Dance_marathon,_1923.jpg

I did a quick IMDb search for dance marathon and 55 titles came up.  When I narrowed the search down to the years 1928 to 1945, only 3 titles came up:

Hard to Handle (1933) - mentioned in your post

The Lottery Bride (1930)

Sailor's Luck (1933)

Most of the rest of the titles show up after the release of They Shoot Horses...

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Good thread.  I've only seen one time "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?", but it's been quite a while.  I remember liking it, despite its downbeat story.  I do recall an episode of "The Waltons" that centered on a dance marathon in Charlottesville.

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