They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
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They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? is one of the best dramas about the Great Depression. The film concerns a marathon dance in the '30s, where, in order to win a cash prize, contestants are forced to keep dancing until they're exhausted. The dance is a metaphor for the Great Depression--some can survive the grueling ordeal, some cannot. Over the course of the film, a number of subplots are revealed, following the intertwining lives of these small-town citizens, most notably of Jane Fonda, a self-destructive young girl. Gig Young won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the dance… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The material is simple and irresistible, and Sydney Pollack stages it well (though without transcending the essential superficiality of his talent)."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"The movie is by far the best thing that Pollack has ever directed (with the possible exception of The Scalphunters)."
‑ Vincent Canby, New York Times
"An allegorical, socially conscious response to the injustices of the Depression era."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"Sydney Pollack's screen version of the powerful Depression-era dance marathon is extremely well acted, particularly by Jane Fonda as the suicidal actress, her first great performance."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"Overly melodramatic."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"A sordid spectacle of hard times, a kind of existentialist allegory of life."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"It's depressing as hell, so it's not a movie I would watch repeatedly, but I'm sure glad I saw it. This is an important film about a time in America's history that wasn't so glamorous. You won't forget it."
‑ Austin Kennedy, Film Geek Central
"Pollack's adaptation of Horace McCoy's depression era novel has not dated well."
‑ , Film4
"Overblown, but good anyway."
‑ Eric Lurio, Greenwich Village Gazette
"A riveting parable about America during the Depression."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
"The acting is strident and overblown, the narrative technique gimmicky and obvious, and the implication that the competitors' situation is a microcosm of a wider-reaching American malaise rather pretentious."
‑ , Time Out
"There has never been a film quite so original as this, featuring a wealth of noted actors fighting for their lives in a dance competition taking place during the Great Depression."
‑ Wesley Lovell, Cinema Sight
"Grim but compelling tale set in a Depression era dance marathon. Gig Young deservedly copped the Oscar."
‑ Steve Crum,
"Dated, condescending moralizing"
‑ Daniel Eagan, Film Journal International
"Jane Fonda and Michael Sarrazin portray one of the more sordid depression stories about survival on a dance floor to bring home the bacon."
‑ Moira Sullivan,
More reviews for They Shoot Horses, Don't They? on Rotten Tomatoes