Gloria is a young woman of the Depression. She has aged beyond her years and feels her life is hopeless, having been cheated and betrayed many times in her past. While recovering from a suicide attempt, she gets the idea from a movie magazine to head for Hollywood to make it as an actress. Robert is a desperate Hollywood citizen trying to become a director, never doubting he'll make it. Robert and Gloria meet and decide to enter a dance marathon, one of the crazes of the 1930's. The grueling dancing takes its toll on Gloria's already weakened spirit, and she tells Robert that she'd be better off dead, that her life is hopeless - all the while acting cruelly and bitterly, alienating those around her, trying to convince him to shoot her and put her out of her misery. After all, they shoot horses, don't they? Written by
According to an interview with star Michael Sarrazin, this film was shown to the public in Russia as a piece of anti-American propaganda on the evils of capitalism. See more »
The Edward Heyman/Johnny Green song "Easy Come Easy Go", which is used as the film's title theme and is performed by a singer at the fictional dance marathon, was not published until 1934 (two years after the film's 1932 setting). See more »
The doctor's decision is: Lillian Kramer stays on in the marathon! The doctor's assured me Lillian just has a slight sinus headache.
Headache. For all that quack knows she's... she's got a brain tumor.
No, I don't think so. Only I'm not exactly sure, but I think it's different with a brain tumor. Different symptoms.
Yeah? How do you know?
I saw it in a movie. Anita Louise and Richard Cromwell. That's what she died of. Anita Louise. A brain tumor. But it was different. Everything just suddenly ...
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Viewing "They Shoot Horses, Don't They" is like rubbernecking a horrific traffic accident, or watching a train wreck. The images, no matter how painful, are too disturbing to turn away. This movie documents the depression era pathos by showing us a glimse of a group of dance-marathon contestants battling it out for a winner-take-all purse. Their lives become symbolic of their efforts in the marathon: inexorable pain, constant cramping, and a constant questioning of just "why live in all this misery?" Eventually, the lead performances, especially those of Susanna York and Jane Fonda, show at once characters strong-willed but overcome by simple animal survival. The rest of the stellar cast captures this bleakness as well (watch a young Bonnie Bedelia sing for thrown pennies!!!). Eventually the movie painfully climaxes to let one realize the issues raised by the movie title. The film is stunning in capturing the simple struggle of humanity; it's a must-see, but only once!!!
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