Jane Fonda in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969)

Directed by Sydney Pollack

I realised a few things watching this classic late sixties drama. I’d never heard of Dance Marathons, a ‘dance for the pennies till you drop’ Roman games type entertainment craze in Depression era America. This film runs through the course of one such a marathon (almost) over many weeks and becomes increasingly horrific viewing as the characters struggle to endure.

I’d never realised what a good actress Fonda is. Here it is easy to see why she attracted the attention of so many French directors in her time; apart from her incredible beauty on-screen, she is compelling to watch and gives a fine performance. Michael Sarrazin is another interesting lead but Gig Young as the bastard M.C. steals the show.

I’d also never seen a Pollack film that I liked until now. It’s not a masterpiece but it is powerful.

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