They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Overview

Anchor Bay has a solid reputation for releasing offbeat movies that seem to get lost in the video shuffle, an example being They Shoot Horses, Don't They, despite its multitude of Oscar nominations. While the source print seems to be in good shape, the transfer is not of the greatest quality. The audio is in stereo, surprisingly, and sounds excellent, with a few directional effects in the dialogue and a straightforward stereo mix for the music. The dialogue is fairly clear and understandable, though it does once ...
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Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Susannah York, Gig Young, Red Buttons DVD Sydney Pollack's dark and impassioned adaptation of Horace McCoy's novel examines the limits of ... devotion and endurance. The intricately interwoven plot centers on a marathon dance contest that takes place in the 1930s during the Great Depression. The poverty-stricken participants struggle to keep their footing in order to survive the hard times, with hope for the cash prize the sole reason for continuing to dance. The tragic competitors are an effective mirror for the American ideals of the time and the overwhelming feeling of disenchantment. Filled with dramatic tension and moving performances, THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY? is harrowing and unforgettable. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Anchor Bay has a solid reputation for releasing offbeat movies that seem to get lost in the video shuffle, an example being They Shoot Horses, Don't They, despite its multitude of Oscar nominations. While the source print seems to be in good shape, the transfer is not of the greatest quality. The audio is in stereo, surprisingly, and sounds excellent, with a few directional effects in the dialogue and a straightforward stereo mix for the music. The dialogue is fairly clear and understandable, though it does once in a while get mushed. Sound effects tend to be confined to the center, and are okay, though not outstanding. The film has been transferred in full-frame and widescreen (non-anamorphic letterboxed at 2.35:1) and the video portion could stand to be quite a bit better. The image is on the soft side, though not grainy for the most part. There are some compression artifacts, however, mostly visible in larger dark areas, though no edge enhancement is apparent. The image contrast is underwhelming, resulting in very flat video with no solid blacks (most areas of deep shadow or straight black are rendered as a deep grey with hints of green). Colors are extremely muted, even though flesh tones are rendered accurately. The transfer is not so poor as to make the movie unwatchable, but there are moments when the flaws are distracting. Curiously, the trailer included on the disc (as one of two extras) seems to have received a better transfer than the movie itself, showing better colors and a sharper image overall. The second extra is a promotional featurette that has not worn the passage of time very well -- grainy, faded, and full of blemishes, its main value may be in seeing Sydney Pollack at work as he chases the cast around, yelling at them constantly to keep them moving and off-balance enough to produce convincing performances.
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Special Features

Widescreen presentation [2.35:1]; Full-frame presentation; Theatrical traielr; Behind-the-scenes featurette
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Appearing throughout the 1960s in forgettable light comedies and overdone potboilers (some directed by her then-husband, Roger Vadim), Jane Fonda hardly seemed to be an actress with a memorable career ahead of her. That changed in 1969, with They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, in which Fonda gave her first inarguably great performance as Gloria, a woman shorn of hope and compassion, who has learned to get by on bitterness and survival instinct. While Fonda was the film's biggest surprise, she was not the only casting risk that paid off. Gig Young, a journeyman actor whose career had had a few peaks and many valleys, was unexpectedly mesmerizing as Rocky, the oily and manipulative Master of Ceremonies, a performance for which he won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor. Red Buttons, long a star comedian, was solid and believable as the battered and aging Sailor. Bruce Dern, best known for supporting parts in Roger Corman quickies, was both hopeful and desperate as the destitute drifter James, and Bonnie Bedelia, in only her second film role, created an indelible impression as Ruby, his pregnant wife; her cracked and sorrowful version of "The Best Things in Life are Free" may be the most heartbreaking moment in a film full of heavy emotions. And, while Susannah York's prior career made her fine work less surprising than that of her fellow cast members, that didn't make her descent into madness as the star-struck Alice any less harrowing to watch. Director Sydney Pollack skillfully juggles these superb performances, giving them equal emotional weight, and generates a mood of grim desperation so palpable that you can almost feel the sweat and fatigue rising off the cast. The late 1960s spawned a brief vogue of films about the dark side of American life in the 1930s, but They Shoot Horses, Don't They? is one of the few examples that still holds up today; its allegory still rings true, and its emotional resonance is just as sharp and troubling.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/12/1999
  • UPC: 013131092493
  • Original Release: 1969
  • Rating:

  • Source: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Cinemascope (2.35:1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen / Pan & Scan / Dolby 5.1
  • Sound: Dolby Digital
  • Language: English
  • Time: 2:00:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jane Fonda Gloria
Michael Sarrazin Robert
Susannah York Alice
Gig Young Rocky
Red Buttons Sailor
Bonnie Bedelia Ruby
Bruce Dern James
Robert Fields Joel
Allyn Ann McLerie Shirl
Michael Conrad Rollo
Al Lewis Turkey
Severn Darden Cecil
Jacquelyn Hyde Jackie
Felice Orlandi Mario
Art Metrano Max
Gail Billings Lillian
Maxine Greene Agnes
Mary Gregory Nurse
Robert Dunlap College Boy
Paul Mantee Jiggs
Tim Herbert Doctor
Tom McFadden
Noble "Kid" Chissell
Teddy Buckner
Chaing I
Kid Chissell Trainer
Joseph Harris House Band
Marilyn Hassett Girl
Bobby Hutcherson Band Leader
Philo McCullough Audience Extra
Madge Kennedy Mrs. Layden
Laura Lamb
Technical Credits
Sydney Pollack Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Robert Chartoff Producer
Donfeld Costumes/Costume Designer
Johnny Green Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Harry Horner Production Designer
Al Jennings Asst. Director
Philip H. Lathrop Cinematographer
Frank McCoy Makeup
Frank R. McKelvey Set Decoration/Design
Tom Overton Sound/Sound Designer
James Poe Screenwriter
Edgar J. Scherick Executive Producer
Frederic Steinkamp Editor
Robert E. Thompson Screenwriter
Irwin Winkler Producer
Albert Woodbury Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
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Scene Index

Chapter Selection
0. Chapter Selection
1. Opening credits [4:18]
2. The contestants [5:54]
3. The dance begins [8:41]
4. Rest period [4:34]
5. No fights [10:54]
6. Faith healer [8:49]
7. The derby [18:33]
8. Nightmare [4:34]
9. Misery on display [8:55]
10. Sideshow [7:07]
11. Singing for supper [10:25]
12. Against the clock [5:39]
13. Unhinged [5:11]
14. Strictly business [4:26]
15. Packing it in [3:03]
16. Mercy [8:05]
17. End credits [:31]
Side Two - Fullscreen
1. Opening credits [4:18]
2. The contestants [5:53]
3. The dance begins [8:42]
4. Rest period [4:33]
5. No Fights [10:54]
6. Faith healer [8:50]
7. The derby [18:33]
8. Nightmare [4:34]
9. Misery On display [8:55]
10. Sideshow [7:07]
11. Singing for supper [10:25]
12. Against the clock [5:39]
13. Unhinged [5:11]
14. Strictly business [4:26]
15. Packing it in [3:03]
16. Mercy [8:05]
17. End credits [:31]
Read More Show Less

Menu

Side One - Widescreen
   Menu Group #1 with 18 chapter(s) covering 01:59:49
Play
Extras
   Trailer
   The making of "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"
Side Two - Fullscreen
   Chapter Selection
   Play
   Extras
      Trailer
      The making of "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"
Read More Show Less

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