Jerry Ryan is wandering aimlessly around New York, having given up his law career in Nebraska when his wife asked for a divorce. He meets up with Gittel Mosca, an impoverished dancer from ... See full summary »
Marriage of a midlife, middle-class, childless couple is in a rut. Sophie has become depressed, frigid and slightly paranoid and Otto is stuck in optimistic denial. Things escalate at their summer cottage, but no one dares call it quits.
Frank D. Gilroy
The story of two women whose lives are dedicated to ballet. Deedee left her promising dance career to become a wife and mother and now runs a ballet school in Oklahoma. Emma stayed with a company and became a star though her time has nearly passed. Both want what the other has and reflect on missed chances as they are brought together again through Deedee's daughter, who joins the company.Written by
Susan Southall <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Michael, the choreographer/artistic director, is partly based on Jerome Robbins. James Mitchell was the principal male dancer in Robbins' musical "Billion Dollar Baby" (1945) and participated in his American Theatre Laboratory in the late 1960s; later, while performing with American Ballet Theatre, he partnered executive producer Nora Kaye in Robbins' ballet "Facsimile." See more »
When Amelia finishes her first solo part in the climactic Don Quixote pas de deux, her mother (Shirley MacLaine) clearly yells, "Bravo." As a ballerina herself, the mother should have yelled, "Brava." See more »
Sure it's a soap opera, but it's an extremely entertaining one.
I had no knowledge or interest in ballet before viewing The Turning Point on HBO about a year after it was first released to theaters. The HBO promotions department concentrated more on the cat fight between Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft and less on the numerous ballet dances. I thought it was going to be an unintentional laugh riot. Boy, was I wrong.
MacLaine and Bancroft as former dance rivals do a great job separately and together. You sense the history of both characters and the issues that have colored the decisions they made. MacLaine's character, Deedee, getting pregnant and leaving the ballet company, while with Bancroft's character, Emma, the veteran prima ballerina who never married and struggles to stay a ballerina not knowing when or how to gracefully end her career.
Director Herbert Ross and screenwriter Arthur Laurents conceived an interesting, albeit thin, story within the backdrop of ballet. The lead actresses and the supporting cast, including James Mitchell, Anthony Zerbe, Tom Skerritt as MacLaine's husband and especially Martha Scott as the blunt, money-minded owner of the ballet company, do a very good job and, in some ways, improve on the material given to them.
As far as the ballet dancers in acting roles, well they are great dancers. To be fair, hiring anyone with little or no acting experience and expect them to act in a major movie for the first time would be a challenge for anyone. Leslie Browne, as Emilia, Deedee's oldest who is in the process of becoming the next prima ballerina, had a very tough task and, when it came to the dialog, I thought she did as good a job as she could. But when she was in her element, namely in the dance studio and on stage, she was wonderful. (It's a shame that actress/former ballerina Neve Campbell was only four years old when The Turning Point was first released. Acting-wise, Campbell would have been a more convincing Emilia. But I digress.)
Mikhail Baryshnikov fared much better as the main male ballet dancer/Lothario. He oozed charisma on screen and his jumps on stage are breathtaking. Years after The Turning Point, he has done some decent work in White Nights on screen and Sex and the City on television.
Interestingly, out of all of the non-professional actors, I thought Alexandra Danilova, who played Emilia's ballet teacher, gave the most natural and less stilted performance. She seemed very comfortable essentially playing herself. I have a feeling that it has a lot to do with her real ballet experience of over 50 years when the film was released in 1977.
The last time I viewed The Turning Point was in 2005. The material is still pretty thin but I do believe that if it wasn't for the strong performances (acting and dancing) the film would not hold up after all these years.
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