IMDb > They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)
They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
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They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) More at IMDbPro »

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They Shoot Horses, Don't They? -- The lives of a disparate group of contestants intertwine in an inhumanely grueling dance marathon.


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7.9/10   13,118 votes »
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Up 17% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Horace McCoy (novel)
James Poe (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for They Shoot Horses, Don't They? on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
1970 (Norway) See more »
People are the ultimate spectacle
The lives of a disparate group of contestants intertwine in an inhumanely grueling dance marathon. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Won Oscar. Another 12 wins & 21 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
A memorable, tragic story with roots in reality See more (102 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Jane Fonda ... Gloria

Michael Sarrazin ... Robert

Susannah York ... Alice

Gig Young ... Rocky

Red Buttons ... Sailor

Bonnie Bedelia ... Ruby

Michael Conrad ... Rollo

Bruce Dern ... James

Al Lewis ... Turkey
Robert Fields ... Joel

Severn Darden ... Cecil

Allyn Ann McLerie ... Shirl

Madge Kennedy ... Mrs. Laydon
Jacquelyn Hyde ... Jackie
Felice Orlandi ... Mario

Art Metrano ... Max (as Arthur Metrano)
Gail Billings ... Lillian
Lynn Willis ... Coley James, pianist / singer
Maxine Greene ... Agnes
Mary Gregory ... Nurse

Robert Dunlap ... College Boy

Paul Mantee ... Jiggs

Tim Herbert ... Doctor
Tom McFadden ... Second Trainer

Noble 'Kid' Chissell ... First Trainer
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Ian Abercrombie ... Male Dancer #74 (uncredited)

Guy Apollo ... Time Study Man (uncredited)
Hugh Bell ... Band Member (uncredited)
Ronnie Bright ... Band Member (uncredited)
Teddy Buckner ... Band Member (uncredited)
Hadley Caliman ... Band Member (uncredited)
Teddy Edwards ... Band Member (uncredited)
Thurman Green ... Band Member (uncredited)
Joe Harris ... Band Member (uncredited)
Marilyn Hassett ... Dancer #75 (uncredited)
Bobby Hutcherson ... Band Leader (uncredited)
Ike Isaacs ... Band Member (uncredited)

Michael Jeffers ... Marathon Worker (uncredited)

Kenner G. Kemp ... Dance Marathon Spectator (uncredited)
Peggy Adams Laird ... Dancer (uncredited)
Richard LaMarr ... Marathon Spectator (uncredited)
Harold Land ... Band Member (uncredited)

Philo McCullough ... Audience Extra (uncredited)
Beverlee McKinsey ... Dancer (uncredited)

Cynthia Myers ... Marathon Dancer (uncredited)
Flower Parry ... Marathon Spectator (uncredited)
Les Robertson ... Band Member (uncredited)
Mabel Smaney ... Marathon Spectator (uncredited)
Sheela Tessler ... Marathon Dancer (uncredited)

Directed by
Sydney Pollack 
Writing credits
Horace McCoy (novel "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?")

James Poe (screenplay) and
Robert E. Thompson (screenplay)

Produced by
Robert Chartoff .... producer
Johnny Green .... associate producer (as John Green)
Theodore B. Sills .... executive producer
Irwin Winkler .... producer
Original Music by
Johnny Green  (as John Green)
Cinematography by
Philip H. Lathrop (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Fredric Steinkamp 
Casting by
Lynn Stalmaster 
James Martell (uncredited)
Jack Roberts (uncredited)
Production Design by
Harry Horner 
Set Decoration by
Frank R. McKelvy  (as Frank McKelvey)
Costume Design by
Donfeld (costumes designed by)
Makeup Department
Sydney Guilaroff .... hair stylist: Miss Fonda (as Sidney Guilaroff)
Frank McCoy .... makeup artist
Ina Claire .... hair stylist: Miss York (uncredited)
Shirley Gilbert .... hairdresser (uncredited)
Carla Hadley .... hairdresser (uncredited)
Maggie O'Connor .... body makeup artist (uncredited)
Lenore Weaver .... hairdresser (uncredited)
Sherry Wilson .... hairdresser (uncredited)
Production Management
Edward Woehler .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Al Jennings .... assistant director
Joel Chernoff .... second unit director (uncredited)
C.E. Dismukes .... assistant director (uncredited)
Lynn Guthrie .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Ben L. Goldman .... property master
Mort Rabinowitz .... production illustrator
Danny Beneducci .... props (uncredited)
Frank L. Brown .... set dresser (uncredited)
Sound Department
Norval D. Crutcher .... sound effects editor (as Norval Crutcher)
Tom Overton .... sound
Ora Hudson .... boom operator (uncredited)
Brandon Kellogg .... recordist (uncredited)
Tex Rudloff .... re-recording mixer (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Blondie Anderson .... special effects (uncredited)
Chad Evans .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Duke Callaghan .... camera operator (as Duke Callahan)
William Classen .... grip (uncredited)
Richard Doran .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Cliff King .... first assistant camera (uncredited)
Douglas Kirkland .... still photographer (uncredited)
Craig Novak .... grip (uncredited)
Art Say .... stills (uncredited)
Barry Wexler .... grip (uncredited)
Robert Willoughby .... special still photographer (uncredited)
Lee Wilson .... gaffer (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Michael J. Harte .... costumer: man (as Mike Harte)
Mina Mittelman .... costumer: woman (as Mina Mittleman)
Vou Lee Giokaris .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Joan Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
Violet B. Martin .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Thalia Phillips .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Bob Scott .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Joe Somaruga .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Ronald Wind .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Don Guidice .... assistant film editor
Music Department
Johnny Green .... orchestral arrangements (as John Green)
Harry King .... music editor
Albert Woodbury .... orchestral arrangements
Dan Wallin .... score mixer (uncredited)
Other crew
Herbert DuFine .... dialogue coach (as Herb Dufine)
Mort Heilig .... production executive (as Morty Heilig)
Phill Norman .... titles
Tom Panko .... marathon dancers supervisor
Emily Torchia .... unit publicist
Joyce Webb .... script supervisor
Noble 'Kid' Chissell .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"El baile interminable" - Argentina, Venezuela
"Σκοτώνουν τ' Αλογα Οταν Γεράσουν" - Greece
"Загнанных лошадей пристреливают, не правда ли?" - Soviet Union (Russian title)
"Уморените коне ги убиват, нали?" - Bulgaria (Bulgarian title)
"A Noite dos Desesperados" - Brazil
"A lovakat lelövik, ugye?" - Hungary
"Ammutaanhan hevosiakin" - Finland
"Atlari da vururlar" - Turkey (Turkish title) (TV title)
"Baile de ilusiones" - Mexico (imdb display title)
"Czyz nie dobija sie koni?" - Poland
"Danzad, danzad, malditos" - Spain
"De skyter jo hester, ikke sant?" - Norway (imdb display title)
"Hem Yorim Gum B'Susim" - Israel (Hebrew title)
"Hitori botchi no seishun" - Japan (imdb display title)
"I konje ubijaju, zar ne?" - Serbia
"Jamen, man skyder da heste?" - Denmark
"Kone se také strílejí" - Czechoslovakia
"Maratondansen" - Sweden (video title)
"Men slacht wel paarden af" - Belgium (Flemish title) (imdb display title)
"När man skjuter hästar så..." - Sweden (imdb display title)
"Non si uccidono così anche i cavalli?" - Italy
"Nur Pferden gibt man den Gnadenschuß" - West Germany
"Nur Pferden gibt man einen Gnadenschuß" - East Germany (imdb display title)
"On achève bien les chevaux" - France
"Os cavalos Também Se Abatem" - Portugal
"Si caii se împusca, nu-i asa?" - Romania (imdb display title)
"Skotonoun t' aloga otan gerasoun" - Greece (transliterated ISO-LATIN-1 title)
"Son gerçek" - Turkey (Turkish title)
See more »
129 min (original version) | USA:120 min (current version)
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:13 | Australia:SOA (original rating) | Australia:M (re-rating) (1984) | Canada:PG (Manitoba/Ontario) | Canada:R (Nova Scotia) | Canada:13+ (Quebec) | Denmark:15 | Finland:K-16 | France:Tous publics | Iceland:12 | Italy:T | Netherlands:18 (1970) | New Zealand:M | Norway:16 | Singapore:PG | Spain:18 | Sweden:15 | UK:AA (original rating) | UK:15 (tv rating) | UK:15 (video rating) (1986) (1992) (1996) (2001) | USA:M/PG (certificate #22402) | West Germany:12

Did You Know?

Barbara Parkins was offered, but turned down, a role in this film.See more »
Revealing mistakes: When Sailor (Red Buttons) is passed out, two referees take his pants off him to dunk him into a tub of ice water; Buttons lifts up his hips so they can easily remove his pants.See more »
[final scene]
Robert:[standing outside looking at the ocean] I used to love to look at he ocean, walk by it, just sit and listen to it. Now I don't care if I ever see it again.
Gloria Beatty:That, or anything else.
Robert:What are you gonna do know? Try in the movies again?
Gloria Beatty:No. I'd never make it. And maybe it wouldn't make no difference, even if I did. Maybe it's just the whole damn world is like central casting: They got it all rigged before you ever show up.
Robert:I know what you mean. I know just what you mean.
Gloria Beatty:Do you?
Robert:What *are* you gonna do?
Gloria Beatty:I'm gonna get off this merry-go-round. I'm so sick of all sticky things.
Robert:What thing?
See more »
Movie Connections:
I Cover the WaterfrontSee more »


Location of shoot
See more »
95 out of 111 people found the following review useful.
A memorable, tragic story with roots in reality, 21 November 2002
Author: mufeedah from Washington, DC

"They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" is such a fascinating film that it made worthwhile a little research into the dance marathon craze of the 1920s and early 1930s. According to the DVD extra, the set was modeled on the old Aragon Ballroom, built in the 1920s on the Lick Pier at Santa Monica, California. The once-elegant ballroom had grown seedy by the early 1950s, at which time it enjoyed a brief revival as the location of early Lawrence Welk show broadcasts. In the 1960s, the Aragon was again revamped under a different name as a short-lived rock concert venue - with appearances by Alice Cooper (is his pre-Cooper days) and Jim Morrison of the Doors. It was destroyed by fire shortly afterward.

Marathon dancing was, according to most historians, as brutal and exploitive as it is depicted in "Horses." It was for that reason that this early 20th century variety of Roman coliseum culture was banned in much of the country by the late 1930s.

This movie uses fictitious characters to tell a story that appears to be remarkably accurate from a historical point of view. Jane Fonda's ultra-cynical, sharp-tongued character, Gloria, along with ruthless manager/promoter Rocky (played by Gig Young), contrast perfectly with the eerily-resigned and unpretentious Robert (Michael Serrazin). The casting and dialogue are brilliant. The visual effects are haunting.

This film is not for everyone. But for those interested in the social pathology that allows human suffering to become a form of amusement, the malicious ill-treatment of the poor, or the harsh realities of the depression era, this is multifaceted cinema that can be watched again and again, each time yielding new subtleties. It is a morbidly fascinating character study that reflects a truly desperate time.

For those watching on DVD, it is advisable to see the short background feature before the movie in order to fully appreciate its context. The movie is unforgettable, a true classic.

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