THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Saturday, Morch 14, 1970
Page Two THE MICHIGAN DAILY Saturday, March 14, 1970
All the world's a dan
By NEAL GABLER
It all began back in 1932, with
Grand Hotel - the world as
.hotel. Later, we got Ship of
Fools - the world afloat, Now,
we have Sydney Pollack's They
Shoot Horses, Don't They?
based on Horace McCoy's de-
pression novel and playing at the
State Theater. It is the same
premise with a new geograph-
ical twist. The sights have been
lowered slightly to encompass
not the whole world, but, Amer-
ica as dance marathon.
The object of these endeavors
iS to present a kind of Noah's
Ark of humanity. As a result,
dragging themselves over the
worn dance floor of the Pacific
Ballroom are a sailor, a preg-
nant woman, a collegian, a star-
let, a fat person, a skinny per-
son, an Italian, a Jew. What,
no midget! They shuffle and
slide perpetually with only ten
minute rest periods breaking
of dance. It's 1932, the depres-
sion, and there are 1500 silver
dollars to the one lucky couple
who persevere and remain hoof-
ing when all others have fallen
The marathon is more than a
contest; it's a grand show with
bleachers where persons with a
sadistic streak can munch their
hot dogs and cheer for the con-
testants' collapse. The audience
really isn't any different from
those among us who go to Indy
subconsciously hoping for a
flaming wreck or the hockey fan
who would rather see fisticuffs
than a goal. The master of cere-
monies (Gig Young) tells one of
the contestants, "They just want
to see a little misery out there
so they can feel a little better.
They're entitled to that, aren't
Sadism. Tawdriness. Forfeit-
ing pride for prize. These tired
lives are pinned on a treadmill
that literally won't let them find
peace. They suffer cramps,
heart attacks, delusions, illu-
sions, but on they press for the
money; there is no other way.
They're "battling to win and
isn't that the American way,
Since it strives for nothing
less than showing the American
Way, They Shoot Horses is an
extremely ambitious film. It
takes some skill to avoid the pit-
falls that accompany efforts
such as this, and the picture
doesremarkably well. For one
thing, it isn't a showcase for
name stars in cameo roles as
these things often are, and it
will probably bore those people
who get their Around-the-
World-in-Eighty-Day thrills by
pointing at the big screen and
saying, "Isn't that Lee Marvin.
Yes, I'm sure that's Lee Mar-
vin." It is also more substantial
than junk like Ship of Fools.
There is the distinctive Amer-
ican underpinnings of lives
compromised to dollars.
But there is really no way to
avoid melodrama. Movies that
focus on systems almost always
detract from the characters.
Hardbitten, loose-living Gloria
played with expert wryness by
Jane Fonda, and her naive part-
ner Robert (Michael Sarrazin),
are not full-blown, believable
people. They are suffocated by
the film's compulsion to give us
Life, big, bold and brassy. Life,
however, can't be infused into
something by sheer numbers.
The picture is destined to fall
short of its mark because, like
itscharacters, it doesn't realize
thiat there is more to success
than the show of things.
.hNevertheless, thishissa good
film if you are able to accept
the fact that it over-reaches its
capabilities. The direction is
taut despite the flash-forward
bogeyman. The screenplay is
well-written s a v e occasional
375 No. MAPLE RD. 769413OO
lapses into the banal. The
photography by Phillip Lathrop
is flawless. Besides all this, the
film is well-performed, especial-
ly Gig Young's sagging-faced,
bleary-eyed MC, with his "yow-
sa, yowsa, yowsa. The marathon
goes on and on and on ...'
They Shoot Horses is not a
"story about people" in the tra-
ditional sense. Sure, there's a
murder tale nested in between
the fox trots, but it isn't enough
to sustain a film. Rather, it ad-
heres to the Kesey notion of
movie as expounded by Wolfe
in his Electrical Kool-Aid Acid
Test.*Kesey saw life as anala-
gous to film. It has a plotline
which from the looks of things
must have been written by Sam
Peckinpah}, character, symbol-
ism, colors and, who knows,
maybe even a spectacular
Sydney Pollack has turned the
tables on Kesey. He's made a
commerical movie which tries to'
be the Film We Are Living.
What Pollack is saying is that
we're all on the dance-floor
dancing for those dollars, and
none of us is willing to admit
what we all vaguely sense-that,
as Gloria says, "they have the
whole thing rigged from the be-
Of course, all pictures of this,
kind attempt to put the world'
on the screen. But the world-
hotel of Grand Hotel is Holly-
wood's glamorous globe, a new,
more sparkling world to slip into.
The oceanside dance hall is
much different. There is no
gloss covering the worn walls
and worn-out bodies. There are
no romantic vignettes to set the
ladies' hearts aflutter. There is
nothing mitigating the cruelty,
sadness and stupidity. Just like
Ralph Edwards used to say,
"This is your life." Ain't it rot-
The same remarks apply to
Z. Although it probably isn't
intentional as it is in They
Shoot Horses, Z is not just a
story about an assassination and
the pursuit of justice. It IS our
lives. The villains aren't the
colonels anymore than the
heroes are the Opposition. The
villain is the System, uncon-
trollable and menacing. The
System wins out in the end, and
it is neither undue fatalism nor
pessimism to say that in the end
it just might be true that the
System always wins. How do we
know? We are living this story,
That's why Z is so relevant
and so good. It transcends even
our political identifications and
dramatizes the macabre fiction
we have all been living since.
Kennedy was assassinated? Ton-
kin Resolution was passed?
Nixon was elected? The Chicago
7 were tried? Maybe because
we're conspiratorially minded,
or maybe because Greek colonels
are a better personification of
evil than a one-time pretty-boy
MC, Z achieves what They
Shoot Horses sets out to be; it
is Kesey's life-movie.
Tom Hayden said it to Judge
Hoffman: "For a lot of people
who feel the way I do, we are
in the movie Z, I mean there is
not going to be a higher court."
It is tragic, but he was right on.
--r --?' --.v.-:vv.::a-- }}'
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SATURDAY, MARCH 4
National faculty sminar on computer-
assisted instruction for reference lib-
rarians: Center for Research on Learn-
ing and Teaching, 1315 Hill St., 9:00
Teach-in on the Environment: Ralph
Nader and Senator George McGovern,
Keynote speechs on citizens and poli-
tical action, Hill Aud. 1:30 p.m.
Teach-In on the Environment Panel
Discussion, Man's Futur: Struggle for
Survival, Dr. Slobodkn, moderator; Dr.
K. Boulding, C. Luce, D. Brower, Dr.
R. Levins, participants, Mayor R. Hat-
cher, Gary, Indiana, closing remarks:
Hill Aud., 7:30 p.m.
Chamber Music Honors Recital:
Dorothy Woster piano, Sch. of Music
Recital Hall, 8:00 p.m.
Contemporary Directions: Jack Fort-
ner, SydnevtHodkinson, conductors:
Rackham Lect. Hall, 8:00 p.m.
University Players: "Life Is a Dream"
Trueblood Theater, 8:00 p.m.
(Continued on Page 6)
3020 Washtenaw, Ph. 434-1782
Between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor
Nominated for Seven
" Best Picture " Best Song
20th CFN! i~s
H CASSIDY AND
THE SUNDANCE KID
ANN ARBOR BLACK THEATRE, Inc.
3 ONE-ACT PLAYS
"A SON COME HOME" and
"CLARA'S OLE MAN"
--by ED BULLINS-
"AND WE OWN THE NIGHT"
-by JIMMIE GARRETT--
MARCH 18-21-8 P.M.
Schorling Aud., University School,
E. Univ. and Monroe
General Public $3.00-Students $2.00
TICKETS AVAILABLE at Discount Record Shop on State St..
Centicore Bookstore, Ned's Bookstore, Ypsilanti. and at the door.
"The last womrd
-Gene Shalit, Look Magazine
Complimenting film styles,
By BRUCE HENSTELL
My thanks to John Allen for filling in during
my absence. How can one argue with a review
that uses your name thrice in the first two
paragraphs and spells it correctly all three
times? Mr. Allen's honesty, as well as his dex-
terity, is to be admired; he is the only indi-
vidual I know who can type with both fingers
and pat himself on the back at the same time.
A cut above the normal indeed. Friday's fes-
tival was highlighted by a fortuitous arrange-
ment of films whose complimenting styles gave
the 7 p.m. performance the distinction of con-
taining a number of outstanding films.
One film is sure to be an award-winner. It is
Airplane Glue, I Love You by Howard Lester of
Los Angeles. In narrative form, the film treats
a normal adult maniac with a talent for as-
sembling model kits in the film placed un-
der the direction of a city "administrative off i-
cer." ("What," the character tells us, "they used
to call a truant officer.") Our hero has been
absent from school-for the past ten years, or
so it seems-and now his life comes to be cen-
tered around Miss Dixie Box (What a perfect
name!), his new sixth-grade teacher.
The officer and the teacher, each in their
own way want to be one of the kids and this
28-year-old sixth grader is the entry. Our hero
is at home, with the simplicity and honesty of
his fellow students who are at an age where
not all the spontaneity has been bred out of
them. To them, and to them alone, can he talk
and it is only them who understand the depth
and character of his talent for model kits.
The administrative officer is the man of
liberal principal who wears his heart proudly
filed under "H." It is he who is finally affected
Joining our hero in his favorite past time: sniff-
ing airplane glue. It is a comedy, but a pointed
and meaningful one.
Runaway was another film submitted by
Yale film professor, Standish Lawder. It was
an old image; a "found" film-in this case a
scrap of old animation, repeated over and over.
The image was well worked and entertaining.
Pat Oleszko did another of her "strip"
pieces last night, this one entitled "Earth,
Water and Air Strip." Miss Oleszko took a fear-
less stand in handwritten signs for clean air,
pure H-2-0 and good grass. She is the festival's
answer to Arthur Godfrey. If only Axion would
get wise and pick up on Pat.
The remainder of the 7:00 program con-
tained three films all worthy of mention. Pre-
lude, b Andrew Burke, is undoubtedly indica-
tive of a trend in thematic material: In this
case, the resister whose disaffection toward his
society is mirrored in his relation with his
wife. The film is too long and wanders at
points, but it is, at least, a competently handled
The Trench is a science fictional treatment
of a third war and owes much to Chris Mark-
er's La Jetee and a John Hubley cartoon en-
titled The Hole. The presentation of the war
through an encounter with a single soldier is
well handled and the film is a visual pleasure.
Brandy French, the heroine of last year's
winner, Brandy in the Wilderness, has made
Penelope. The story concerns a Latin girl in
New York and has a definite sentimental under-
tone which works to its detriment. The film
contains much of the simplicity of Brandy.
There are definite winners in this group,
and what is more significant is that these films
are consistently interesting and well-made. The
festival, indicative of larger trends, is showing
a definite John Allen one-cut-above-the-normal.
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