Michael Douglas stars as a choreographer who subjects 16 dancers to a grueling audition in this Academy AwardÂ(r)-nominated* adaptation of the landmark Broadway musical. Featuring Marvin Hamlisch's OscarÂ(r)-nominated* mus... more »ic and Jeffrey Hornaday's (Flashdance) sizzling choreography, this thrilling portrayal of life behind the velvet curtain is truly "One Singular Sensation"! After narrowing down hundreds of Broadway hopefuls, Zach (Douglas) leads a select group of dancers on the tryout of their lives. In an audition twist, Zach asks each performer personal and intimate questionswith results that powerfully affect not only the young performers but the hardened stage veteran as well. *1985: Original Song, Sound, Film Editing« less
Lauren L. from WESTERVILLE, OH Reviewed on 9/6/2017...
Pat E. (mom1213) from WAYNESVILLE, NC Reviewed on 7/15/2015...
Marvin Hamlisch was a musical genius...composer, arranger and conductor. He and Richard Rogers are the only two people to win the EGOT awards...Emmy, Golden Globe, Oscar, Tony and the Pulitzer Prize. His Pulitzer was for A Chorus Line. The best and most memorable song from this DVD is "One" and the song and dance number closes the show.
I highly recommend this DVD!
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Bennett - 10, Attenborough - 3
Richard Brennan | Washington, DC USA | 05/26/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The day the film version of "A Chorus Line" opened across the country, director Richard Attenborough was interviewed by Jane Pauley on the Today Show. "And what's this film really about?" asked Jane. Sir Richard answered, "It's about kids trying to break into show business."And there you have everything that's right and wrong about the film. Some have enjoyed this film (as you can see from some of the other reviews), and even been inspired by the inside look at young professionals trying to make it to the top, or even just get in the door. I'm very happy for them.The only problem is, that's NOT what A Chorus Line is about - at least the Pulitzer prize winning stage musical conceived by the late Michel Bennett. And if the movie's director is that far off base, well what you end up with is confusing series of characters and stories that don't seem to have a lot of point to them, other than all these folks are auditioning together one afternoon.
Kids breaking into show business? No, A Chorus Line is (was) about top-of-their-career professional dancers trying to get one more lousy job to keep food on the table and injuries at bay, letting them work one more year. And asking the question "Is it really worth the physical pain, humiliation, and invisibility?" Most had already let go of the dream of being a star - that would have happened by now if it was in the cards. No they were dancers - but what did that mean?Although the creators thought they were putting a project together in workshop that would appeal only to the Broadway community - audiences strongly identified with the dancer's stories. The audition became a metaphor for any place where people are treated as interchangeable commodities, whether its on a stage, in an office, or in a factory. We're all "on the line".It's this core that is missing from the film. The stage musical has three pivotal group numbers: the opening "I Hope I Get It", "Montage", and "What I Did For Love". The rest are individual character songs. (The popular number "One", is really outside the plot, more of a curtain call than a book number.) "What I Did for Love" is practically the emotional climax of the show - the dancers reaching for an answer to the inevitable question of "why do this?" In the film, however, it's a love ballad for Cassie, musing over her former love for Zach. On stage, the heart of the show is "Montage", a single musical number about 15 to 20 minutes long takes the characters stories from the pain and wonder of childhood related in the first half, through puberty, and into young adulthood. It contains the song "Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen", as well as several other themes. It's not in the movie - replaced with a new (and much less ambitious) song "Surprise". That leaves only the opening number, which thankfully is still there. Unfortunately it pails in comparison to Bob Fosse's "appropriation" of the idea that he used to open his film "All That Jazz" in 1980.
With the major themes shuffled off to the background, what you are left with is the dancer's colorful stories, and the Cassie / Zach failed love affair melodrama pushed to the fore. The love story isn't any more compelling here than it was on Broadway, where Bennett wisely kept it in the background, only using to add an extra layer of tension to the proceedings. But it is good to see the individual dancer's stories and songs can still impress in the film. The late Greg Burge is riveting in what, on Broadway, was the tiny role of Ritchie. The film gives him his own number, the aforementioned "Surprise". Michael Blevins is sweet as the young Mark, experiencing his first audition. Janet Jones lights up the screen in the tiny part of Judy, demonstrating why she was the sole newcomer to go on to other films (and to marry star hockey player Wayne Gretzky). Broadway veteran Terence Mann (Cats, Les Miserables, Man of La Mancha) is memorable in the small part of Larry, the assistant choreographer with a heart of gold. Cameron English gives a heartfelt rendition of what is probably the greatest piece of writing in the canon of American musicals: Nicholas Dante's story of Paul, the young gay dancer who's family disowned him after seeing him perform in a drag show.
Others don't fare as well, however. Audrey Landers is exactly the WRONG type of vixenish actress to play Ms. Dance-Ten, Looks-Three. The song comes off as vulgar and slutty. It only worked on stage because these shocking things were coming out of the mouth of a petite blond Drew Barrymore look-alike in disarming pigtails. And Alyson Reed, a wonderful dancer, doesn't really register as Cassie. Perhaps if a star had been put in the part, it would have justified all the extra screen time devoted to Cassie's chorus girl to star to chorus girl story. But Alyson doesn't have the right charisma or face for the camera. Choreography was handed over to Jeffery Hornady, who was the man of the moment after the success of his Flashdance numbers. Big mistake. Obviously Mr. Hornaday had never see a Broadway show, for the dances look like outtakes from a Wham! video.
So there you have it - add this one to the list of landmark Broadway musicals butchered on film, along side Gypsy, A Little Night Music, and Man of La Mancha. Maybe someone can convince Chicago film director Rob Marshall to give us a television version of Chorus Line? It really deserves a do-over.Back stage note: When Universal studios bought the rights to Chorus Line in 1976, they also hired Michael Bennett as producer (and implicitly as director). Michael spent over a year and a half working on various versions of the screenplay, but eventually got tired of "taking meetings" and left LA for New York where he went to work on Dream Girls. One concept for the movie was to depart from the original setting and make it about dancers auditioning for the film version of "Chorus Line". He had already approached two hot newcomers to participate. He wanted Mikhail Baryshnikov as Zach, and in a gender switch, Saturday Night Fever star John Travolta in Cassie role. Already that sounds like a more interesting movie."
Anne Weasley | 07/26/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Good Lord, where do I start? I've held out seeing this "film" because I've seen the Broadway production, as well as a worn-out black and white beta-video version of the original cast, and I'm afraid little was left of the original in this "screen version". I also have a story in my head told to me by an acting teacher who saw the original production at The Public in NY before it moved to Broadway. He told me he'd seen it with a friend and both walked around the Village, down to the Financial District and then home to 46th Street in silence because they'd been so moved by what they saw.The film version is a good example of what too much success can do to something. As other people have suggested - it might have been better to film the stage version, or better yet make a documentary about the ground breaking "work-shopping" the show went through in development. It revolutionzed the way plays and musicals were conceived.I don't mean to diminish the talent of any cast member, (well... I could have done without Judy Landers - too obvious a choice, and a little too clumsy a performance, as well as Mr. Boring-Hollywood himself, Michael Douglas) as they all, of course, excellent dancers and singers - I think some were pulled from the Broadway cast. I liked the actress who plays Cassie very much, but I didn't like Michael Douglas, and I really hated the fact that they chose to focus on the "Love Story" of Zach & Cassie. Get over it! It was an unbalanced relationship! They probably would be at each others throats during the rehearsals for the show Zach is directing, and when the show ends I imagine Cassie saying to Sheila (her new best friend) "Thank God THAT'S over! I mean... ZACH! WHAT WAS I THINKING?!"Other reviews have captured a lot of things I could say. If you like this film - more power to you, but know if you watch it that it is SO not what the original was. The stage show came at a time when Broadway was in a slump, and some of the themes; homosexuality, sexual experimentation, plastic surgery, etc. were topics that existed but were still were very taboo, and capable of shocking a 70's audience. It had more relevance back then, because it seemed that the dancers' predicament was a metaphor for "Broadway" itself... what do you do when this is all over? There was still some romance in being a "Broadway Dancer". Currently Broadway seems to be nothing but revivals and corporate sponsored "machine musicals" that will make money no matter what.Try to see a touring version, or get the play and read in conjuntion with the original cast recording."
Anne Weasley | Maryland | 09/01/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A Chorus Line is a truly great show, when performed onstage keeping true to the original *ahem* SONGS, but the movie kind of failed in the attempt to re-create the magic. I mean, "Music and The Mirror" is a perfect example. Did they think it was too subtle for the movie-watching American public? Did it really have to be replaced with something as blunt as "Let Me Dance For You"? Puh-leaze. And they cut out the entire montage, which really helps in exploring the character's personalities, etc. Why did Cassie seem like such an...annoyance? She did interrupt "I Can Do That". She did harass him into giving her a role. She didn't seem graceful, like in the stage version. (ie, falling while getting into the taxi) I really liked the Sheila, and I loved Terrance Mann. I also found the drag show monologue very well done. It's good, but not even close to the singular sensation it was onstage."
What was Richard Attenborough thinking?????
S. Fennell | Somewhere out there.....beneath the pale moon ligh | 11/12/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film in it's original theatrical run back in 1985, BEFORE seeing the stage production. For the most part, I found it enjoyable (at the time), but wondered what the fuss over the show was all about. About a year later, I had the opportunity to see the REAL version, on stage. There simply is NO comparison between the two; this film is a TERRIBLE attempt to capture the magic of the original show. The only reason I chose to give it two stars instead of one, is because of the performances of the cast. For the most part, they are quite good, but even they cannot save the mess that the director, Richard Attenborough, allowed this film to become. In the original show, "What I Did For Love", aguably the musical's most touching moment, was performed by the entire cast. It is a tribute to every performer's love for their craft as they answer a question posed by the "director" in the show's plot, ("What do you do when you can no longer dance?") and anyone who has ever set foot on a stage cannot help but be moved by that scene. So what in the WORLD was Richard Attenborough thinking when the high moment, and heart, of the show is reduced to nothing more than a half-baked love song sung by the character of "Cassie", to the director, "Zach"? Totally disgraceful. It changed the entire focus of the film! And since several other reviewers have mentioned this, I, too, would like to complain about the cutting of some of the original score in favor of schlock like "Surprise, Surprise", and "Let Me Dance for You"! For pete's sake, "The Music and the Mirror" was the show-stopper in the stage version! Again, Richard Attenborough, what WERE you thinking??? Also, much of the choreography was "80-ized", making it look like a "Flashdance" clone......(no small wonder, Jeffery Hornaday was responsible, the same guy who worked on Flashdance......). Only the finale of "One" comes close to the exuberance of the original, but even that one is pushing it. If you have the chance to see this on stage, take it, and see the film ONLY as a last resort."
Kiss Today Goodbye
Laura McDonald | Frankfort, KY | 09/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a 1985 release, and stars Michael Douglas as a Broadway director casting dancers for a large production. I enjoyed the movie, yet completely agree with others that the stage version is much better and makes more sense of the story line. Many people saw the stage version first. I do understand their frustration with the film; in particular, it skews the number "What I Did For Love" into emphasizing the love story between Cassie and Zach. What it's really about is the love and dedication dancers have for what they do, through all the blood, sweat and tears.
I went out of order and saw the movie first, and wound up thoroughly enjoying the stage version, a positive experience last rather than the generally negative reception from those who sequenced the other way. Best strategy is to enjoy each, the stage version and film version, for what they are - entertainment. "