They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Watch They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

"People are the ultimate spectacle."
  • M
  • 1969
  • 2 hr
  • 7.8  (20,710)
  • 72

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? is a 1969 drama film directed by Sydney Pollack and based on the 1935 novel of the same name by Horace McCoy. The movie tells the story of a grueling dance marathon during the Great Depression, which takes a heavy emotional toll on the contestants. The film opens with the arrival of Gloria Beatty (Jane Fonda) and her partner Robert (Michael Sarrazin) to a seedy dance hall on the Santa Monica Pier. They have come to participate in a dance marathon run by a cynical, opportunistic MC (Gig Young). As they register for the contest, they meet a variety of other contestants, each with their own personal stories of hardship and desperation.

As the marathon begins, the dancers are required to keep moving for as long as possible, with only brief rest periods every few hours. The grueling nature of the competition quickly takes its toll, both physically and emotionally. As time drags on, the contestants become increasingly exhausted and delirious, with the situation exacerbated by the MC's ruthless tactics and the cruel antics of other dancers.

Throughout the course of the marathon, Gloria forms a close bond with Robert, who shares her dream of escaping poverty and achieving success. They become determined to win the competition, despite the many obstacles in their way. However, their hopes are constantly dashed by the brutal reality of the competition, and as the marathon wears on, their bond begins to fray.

Meanwhile, other contestants fall victim to a variety of tragic fates, including injury, illness, and mental breakdown. As the competition nears its end, the remaining dancers begin to turn on each other, with the MC goading them on for his own financial gain. The final moments of the movie are filled with suspense and tragedy, as the last dancers struggle to keep moving, desperate to win the prize money that could change their lives.

The film is a powerful commentary on the harshness of life during the Great Depression, and on the human cost of relentless competition and unbridled ambition. It is a bleak and unflinching portrayal of the darker aspects of the American dream, and of the ways in which people can be driven to their limits in pursuit of success.

Jane Fonda delivers a powerhouse performance as Gloria, imbuing the character with both vulnerability and strength. Michael Sarrazin is also excellent as Robert, bringing a sense of innocence and determination to his role. The supporting cast is equally impressive, with standout performances from Susannah York, Red Buttons, and Gig Young.

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? is a movie that stays with you long after the credits roll. It is a haunting and unforgettable portrait of a time and place in American history, and of the shattered dreams and broken lives of those who lived through it. Whether you are a fan of classic cinema or simply appreciate powerful storytelling and compelling characters, this film is not to be missed.

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.8  (20,710)
  • Metascore