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They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

~Thursday~ Although I had never seen the movie, "They shoot horses, don't they?" I love using the phrase in the context of experiencing something miserable, and intimating that being "put down" might be more merciful than enduring it.

So, I welcomed the opportunity to watch the movie when Bob suggested it after learning that I'd never seen it. And the fact that it most definitely does not have a Hollywood ending was a huge draw.

Here is a synopsis (from Wikipedia):

Robert Syverton (Michael Sarrazin), who once dreamed of being a great film director, recalls the events leading to an unstated crime. In his youth, he saw a horse break its leg, after which it was shot and put out of its misery. Years later, in 1932 during the Great Depression, he wanders into a dance marathon about to begin in the shabby La Monica Ballroom, perched over the Pacific Ocean on the Santa Monica Pier, near Los Angeles. He is recruited by MC (Master of Ceremonies) Rocky (Gig Young as a substitute partner for a cynical malcontent named Gloria (Jane Fonda), when her original partner is disqualified because of an ominous cough.

The official trailer:


My thoughts about this movie are limited:

  • I loved this movie.

  • This critique, from The New York Times' Vince Canby, resonated with me: “The movie is far from being perfect, but it is so disturbing in such important ways that I won't forget it very easily…”

  • Themes explored included desolation, desperation, exasperation, and hopelessness.

  • I thought the film did a good job with portraying the tenacity, persistence, and ultimately the agony and dispair of participating in "a-thons."

  • Although I'm not a huge fan of ambiguous endings, I wasn't put off by this one, probably because its tone—at least—was not at all ambiguous.

Have you seen this movie? If so, what did you think of it?
 

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