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They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969)

Gloria (Jane Fonda) enters into a dance marathon contest during the Great Depression, hoping to earn $1500 after over a month of continuous dancing.

During the course of the marathon, one man suffers a stroke and dies, his partner loses her mind – she enters the shower, fully clothed, and stares at the showerhead which distorts her face; the most captivating shot of the film – even a pregnant couple is desperate enough to enter the contest; it is the Depression after all.

The marathon serves as a metaphor for life itself during those awful 1930s. People were so impoverished and needy that they agreed to subject themselves to such physical and emotional duress for not very much money.

Upon learning from the organiser that the event is rigged – the winners get basically nothing after having to pay for a month’s worth of food and laundry – Gloria and her partner immediately drop out of the contest.

Exhausted and depleted, Gloria and her partner Robert, a gentle and obliging man, lean against the boardwalk. Gloria asks Robert to shoot her in the head. She’s had enough of this useless existence. He agrees. After all, once a horse is too old or lame to be of use, they put them to sleep with a pistol, don’t they?

Gloria Beatty
Jane Fonda
Robert Syverton
Michael Sarrazin
Alice
Susannah York
Rocky
Gig Young
Sailor
Red Buttons
Ruby
Bonnie Bedelia
Rollo
Michael Conrad
James
Bruce Dern
Turkey
Al Lewis
Joel
Robert Fields
Cecil
Severn Darden
Shirl
Allyn Ann Mclerie
Jackie
Jacquelyn Hyde
Mario
Felice Orlandi
Max
Art Metrano
Lillian
Gail Billings
Agnes
Maxine Greene
Jiggs
Paul Mantee
Mrs Layden
Madge Kennedy
Nurse
Mary Gregory
College boy
Robert Dunlap
Doctor
Tim Herbert

Director
Sydney Pollack