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
The film is supposed to take place in 1932. However, during the opening sequence posters for the films Varsity Show (1937) and Off the Record (1939) can be seen outside the ballroom on the pier. See more »
Caisson Song (The Caissons Go Rolling Along)
Music by Edmund L. Gruber
Played at the Dance Marathon See more »
Dance Marathon Macabre
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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