Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 1977. Hera Productions, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Screenplay by Arthur Laurents. Cinematography by Robert Surtees. Produced by Arthur Laurents, Herbert Ross. Music by Carl Czerny, John Lanchbery. Production Design by Albert Brenner. Costume Design by Albert Wolsky. Film Editing by William Reynolds. Academy Awards 1977. Golden Globe Awards 1977. National Board of Review Awards 1977.
The world of ballet gets world class treatment from Hollywood and director Herbert Ross, but the screenplay of this film is mired down in soap opera cliches. Shirley MacLaine plays a former ballerina who gave up her career to marry her dancer husband (Tom Skerritt) and raise their children, one of whom (Leslie Browne) is now on her way to becoming a prima ballerina herself. MacLaine reunites with old friend Anne Bancroft, an equally talented peer who focused on her career instead of a family, and the film concentrates on the power play between these two women and their envy of each other. There’s plenty of dancing, and it’s all beautifully accomplished (praise to the cinematographer as well), but its story isn’t even good enough for the bad melodramas of the forties. The film even tries to examine ideas of masculine identity in the field of dance, but comes off homophobic considering how obsessed every male dancer is about making sure everyone knows he’s straight (first of all, why is everyone so straight, and second of all, they’re ballet dancers). Fans of the main actresses might enjoy it, especially as they really get to show off some physical skill, and it’s also a chance to see a performance by a very young Mikhail Baryshnikov.