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They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

4.4 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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(Oct 19, 2004)
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$121.99 $37.04

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Editorial Reviews

Nominated* for nine Academy Awards(r), this vivid (Cue), fascinating (Leonard Maltin) film stars Oscar(r) winner** Jane Fonda as a woman driven to seize her last best chance during the very worst of times. A brilliant (LA Herald-Examiner) achievement by director Sydney Pollack, it is a stunning period piece (Variety). In Depression-era America, desperation spawned a bizarre fad: the dance marathon. Couples competed to stay on their feet for thousands of hours, and audiences flocked to watch. But Gloria (Fonda) doesn't think of herself as a spectacle. She is a fierce, unforgiving contestant in a battle she's determined to win. At stake is much more than the $1,500 prize. The marathon is her only hope for dignity, accomplishment and salvation. *1969: Director; Actress (Jane Fonda); Supporting Actress (Susannah York); Supporting Actor (Gig Young, won); Adapted Screenplay; Art Direction; Costume Design; Editing; Musical Score **1978: Actress: Coming Home; 1971: Klute

Special Features

  • Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Susannah York, Gig Young, Red Buttons
  • Directors: Sydney Pollack
  • Writers: James Poe, Robert E. Thompson, Horace McCoy
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Letterboxed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: October 19, 2004
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002KPHZQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,111 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
In this age of "Reality" TV shows like "Survivor", in which "The Most Devious and Unscrupulous Person Wins" for a grand prize of a million dollars, the grim reality of the Great Depression makes inconsequential dreck like this look like a walk in the park. Sydney Pollack's "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?", based on the novella by Horace McCoy, is a harrowing heartbreaking , and unforgettable experience. Set in Southern California in 1932, "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" is the tale of a marathon dance, and the desperate people who participate in it. For those of you who don't know what a marathon dance was, couples had to dance for 2 hours, take a 10 minute break to sleep or eat, and then dance again....and again...and again. These grueling endurance contests went on for weeks, and the last remaining couple on the dance floor would win the Grand Prize...if they were still alive and/or still conscious enough to claim it....while spectators watched the whole grotesque show.

Jane Fonda (in the performance of her career, IMO) plays Gloria Beatty, an embittered young woman who has had more than her fair share of hard knocks. Her dance partner is the dreamy-eyed and naïve country boy Robert Syverton (Michael Sarrazin), Among the other contestants are a flinty, middle-aged sailor (Red Buttons), aspiring actress Alice LeBlanc (Susannah York) and her partner Joel (Robert Fields), and hayseed couple James and Ruby (Bruce Dern and Bonnie Bedelia). Presiding over the dance is the cynical emcee Rocky (Gig Young, in an Oscar-winning performance) The action of the film covers the weeks that transpire during the dance, and the physical, emotional, and mental toll that it takes on the contestants is, quite simply, horrifying.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I was overjoyed to receive a gift of the reissue of this video in 1995, that is until I watched it in all its "pan & scan" desecration. It is truly a joy to watch this DVD (VHS is now available in widescreen as well) in the right format with all the extras. But all that aside, this is a towering, neglected masterpiece of American cinema that virtually put director Sydney Pollack on the map and established Jane Fonda as the premier American actress of the Sixties and Seventies. Who else could have captured the tragic essence of the bitter, beaten Gloria but Fonda? Watch her especially in the final elimination round as she desperately (and literally) carries her ailing partner around the floor in a final attempt to win the big prize and (symbolically) maybe give life one more try. Fonda never sentimalizes this great character as a lesser actress would have been tempted to; no simple answers or easy forgiveness will do for Gloria--she is too important to be trivialized. Red Buttons, Susannah York, and Gig Young are also superb in supporting roles; the cinematography and music also deserve kudos. If you haven't seen it, do not miss this American classic and one of the century's greatest actresses just entering her prime. How we do miss Jane.
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Format: VHS Tape
Sydney Pollack has given the world some of most memorable and engrossing films ever such as "The Way We Were," "Out of Africa," "Tootsie", and "The Firm." However, most seem to forget about this little masterpiece he helmed back in 1969, about a dance marathon that causes more disillusionment that being told your life is a worthless shame. Jane Fonda heads out the cast as a struggling actress who seeks out the dance marathon as a means of survival during the Great Depression. Marathons of this type were popular, luring in poor folks to see who would be willing to go so far to win a cash prize. Susannah York is another actress from Hollywood who has had her share of bad luck and it gets worse and worse as the marathon wears on. Red Buttons is a sailor who has seen his share of human loss and heartache but matters to almost nothing when he sees what this marathon will do to its contestants. Gig Young is well-cast as the scheming marathon promoter who loves to sit back and watch the people collapse and give up. He puts the show on soley for human spectacle and idiotic display. What he does to select contestants will have you loathing and seething with hatred for his character. He is so convincing in the role it won him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Young, who was a major comedy star back in the 1940-50's, was sinking into deep melancholy over life and his work and the Oscar did little to nothing to help him. In 1978 he shot his wife and then himself, always convinced that he was the result of an accidental pregnancy. However, despite this pitiful knowledge, he has given the entertainment world some of the best work we've ever seen, including his own TV show in the 50's in which he went behind the scenes of movies in production.Read more ›
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I've read a number of the customer reviews, agreed with them, and only wish I could think of more superlatives for this phenomenal achievement in filmmaking. You cannot come away from this film without being moved by its amazing, thought-provoking power. The world created by Pollack draws you in so completely (along with brilliant sets, cinematography, editing and, especially, the very well-chosen music) that you cannot help thinking "There but for the grace of God, Go I". What many don't realize is that this film is on the record books of the Academy for many reasons; no other film received as many Oscar nominations as this (9) without being nominated for Best Picture. Two artists who have made unforgettable marks upon the history of American film (Pollack and Fonda) received their first of many Oscar nominations. As I mentioned, there's not much more to say about this film experience that hasn't been said, though I will repeat: SEE THIS FILM. If you're any kind of a film fan, this is an essential addition to your library.The Widescreen version and DVD are 2.35:1, the ONLY way to view this film. With few exceptions, this film gives more attention to detail than any I can recall. I also realize that most people that might read this are aware of its brilliance. Sad to think this film is being missed by so many.
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