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Cat Dancers
Cat Dancers
Actors: Ron Holiday, Joy Holiday
Director: Harris Fishman
Genres: Documentary
NR     2009     1hr 15min

Unlike anything else you've seen, Cat Dancers is the mesmerizing and haunting tale of the husband-and-wife team who first engaged the world in the art and tragedy of exotic cat entertainment. This strikingly candid film la...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Ron Holiday, Joy Holiday
Director: Harris Fishman
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Docurama
Studio: Docurama
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 02/24/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 15min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Strange but well worth watching.
Frank Rizzo | Dallas, TX | 12/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a disturbing look into the lives of 3 traveling exhibitionists who dance with and do tricks with large cats. Ron and Joy bring in another player, who they both fall deeply in love with. Chuck seems to be the crux of the matter, the hinge point upon which the balance of their world goes awry. Ron recounts this sad tale. He is a strange man in appearance, mannerisims, and in the way he assigns importance or weight to certain aspects of the narrative. At times I'm not sure I believe what he is saying at all; some of it is simply too bizarre. But, I don't think Ron is trying to deceive, but only that he is shell shocked and has beaten down by life to near insanity. He is a kind and loving man, of that there is not doubt. I would also say that both Joy and Ron do seem to know these cats, as well as one can. The moments where Joy discusses what is going in in these animals heads are pretty amazing. I wonder if their obsession with Chuck took off the edge, created a bit of slack in their situational awareness. It seems to have lead to their aquisition of Jupiter, to disasterous result. Nearly everything about these people is a head scratcher. Love triangles, tiger maulings, wigs, tight fitting's a strange recipe. But, that's how they chose to spend their nickle, and it made them happy, which probably is all that matters."
Ron Holiday's Unconquerable Spirit
jewessjen | Minneapolis, MN | 12/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"You've heard of 'Siegfried & Roy' but that's nothing compared to all this. Wait until you hear this...
This is the story about how the best intentions can go so so wrong. How the purest love can turn into the darkest of horrors and how love can live on and still shine brightly for everyone else to see, even if everything appears to be blood red for a while.
When they received their first big cat from a Hollywood celebrity, they had no clue what to do with it so they treated it like a child. Instead of getting an education (which they eventually did), they added the animal to their act, got more famous and then just kept adding more animals, poorly trained (at first), to their act. Money was made, they lived very large and the price they paid was so dear, so tragic, so unbelievable, it made me feel so sad.
They made tons of mistakes, assigning the animals human emotions, treating the cats like children (including holding grudges against them), and basically doing all the same things that we all do with our pets. Except their pets happened to be 300-pound tigers.
In the end, I really loved Ron Holiday and I wanted to give him a hug and tell him time heals. He suffered a lot and had an unconquerable spirit. I hope he does make it to the Tiger Temple in Thailand. From this documentary, I took his spirit and attitude. He made me see that the human heart can endure massive pain and still come through like a champion, inspiring others. I think that is truly what this documentary is about. Sorry if that sounds hopelessly lame. But for me, that's what it was about.
A Strangely Touching Documentary
K. Fontenot | The Bayou State | 12/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"HBO Documentaries always grab my attention. They usually fall into one of two categories: simply wonderful or truly trash. "Cat Dancers" falls into the first category. It's a loving and somewhat eerie look into the lives of Ron and Joy Holiday and their relationship with big cats and a young protege, Chuck Lizza.

The documentary premiered last night and has been plugged for weeks. I was captivated by the story of this couple who grew up together and eventually married. They became world-famous adagio ballet dancers but peaked in their early thirties (according to Ron in the documentary).

Looking for work, they eventually found themselves in the world of big cat training and performance. They gained knowledge on the subject through reading and much trial-and-error.

The documentary goes on to give us a glimpse into the life of this couple as the "Cat Dancers." Ron Holiday is brought close to tears (and eventually gives in) many times as he opens up about his life, his love of Joy and Chuck and his deep connection to the cats. We learn a little history of each of the Holiday's animals, from Shercon to Jupiter, the white tiger lovingly referred to as "Mr. Perfect." We also see Ron teach a class of students on the exotics farm on which he keeps his remaining animals. The documentary ends with two terrible tragedies that I won't reveal here.

One thing is for certain, the Holidays had a truly amazing bond with their cats and with Chuck Lizza. The bond shared between the humans and cats was very strong and very passionate.

This is an intimate portrait of three lives that intertwined to create something truly beautiful. While it can sometimes be bizarre, this story is a beautiful and tender look into the lives of some truly amazing performers. I highly recommend it."
Not what I thought it would be..
Brian R. Findlay | Merrimack, NH USA | 03/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I love documentary film, but I'm still pretty choosy. I watch alot, but many come out of the player in about 5-10 minutes. I really thought this would be cheezy and lame, I would have bet a paycheck on it. This wasn't what I thought.. there were these characters, I just didn't want to relate with, to care about, but I did. This is as personal as it gets, as much as people care bare their soul about amazing and tragic events. In short, it was REALLY, REALLY, good. You should watch it."