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Acclaimed choreographer Zach (Michael Douglas) is in the process of casting dancers for a new musical. Before the final eliminations when the required eight dancers will remain from the dozens who audition, 16 are selected. Egos are tested, hearts are broken and confidences shared as Zach asks the dancers to share their innermost thoughts about their dreams and lives. Meanwhile successful dancer Cassie (Alyson Reed) with whom Zach once shared a relationship, is in need of a job and wants to audition.

Review by Louise Keller:
Still running on Broadway more than 30 years after it was written, A Chorus Line is a real New York story. A compelling story about talent, ego, ambition and rejection, Richard Attenborough marries the elements of the stage show and adds some benefits that the moving image can offer. Michael Douglas had just made Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile when he took on the role of Zach, the hard-nosed choreographer with an eye for talent and no consideration for feelings; he is perfectly cast. The choreography is exciting, the songs fabulous and the journey rewarding as we experience the elations and disappointments of auditioning for a Broadway show.

Five, six, seven, eight.... is the rhythmic count, as dancers with tiny waists, long legs and firm bodies go through their paces with demanding routines and impossible contortions. There are hundreds of hopefuls who turn up to audition but it's the final 16 that Zach quizzes about their personal lives. He is a dark figure sitting in the audience, occasionally lighting a cigarette and watching intently: the rhythms, the faces, the energy and the body language. As Zach makes demands of his dancers to reveal something about themselves (childhood rivalries, broken homes, sexuality issues), out come the timeless songs: I Can Do That, At the Ballet, Nothing, Tits and Ass and of course, the showstopper: One.

It's a satisfying film watching the talented cast 'dig right down to the bottom of their souls' as they try their best to impress. Alyson Reed has a nice vulnerability as Cassie, Zach's former girlfriend who needs a job ('Let me Dance for You') - even if it's in the chorus. We get involved in all the dancers' lives, but nothing affects us as much as the way Zach selects his final eight. Heartless or eager to toughen the resolve? This is the first time I have revisited the film since its release in 1985, and it is a satisfying experience.

Published September 6, 2007

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(US, 1985)

CAST: Michael Douglas, Cameron English, Vicki Frederick, Alyson Reed

PRODUCER: Cy Feuer, Ernest H. Martin

DIRECTOR: Richard Attenborough

SCRIPT: Arnold Schulman (musical by Michael Bennett, Nicholas Dante, James Kirkwood Jr)


EDITOR: John Bloom

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Patrizia von Brandenstein

RUNNING TIME: 113 minutes

PRESENTATION: widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Photo gallery; trailer


DVD RELEASE: September 5, 2007

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