(director: Herbert Ross; screenwriter: Arthur Laurents; cinematographer: Robert Surtees; editor: William Reynolds; music: John Lanchbery; cast: Ann Bancroft(Emma), Shirley MacLaine (Deedee), Mikhail Baryshnikov (Yuri ), Leslie Browne (Emilia), Tom Skerritt (Wayne), Martha Scott (Agelaide), Antoinette Sibley (Sevilla), Alexandra Danilova (Dahkarova); Runtime: 119; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Herbert Ross/Arthur Laurents; 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; 1977)

What stands out are the ballet performances.

Reviewed by Dennis SchwartzThe syrupy old-fashioned reunion drama, or should I say soap opera? It was nominated for 11 Oscars and deservedly didn’t win any. It’s tediously written by Arthur Laurents as a film about ballet and friendship. Herbert Ross (“The Sunshine Boys”/”California Suite”/”The Goodbye Girl”) directs it as an inspirational women’s pic about their liberation in the workforce, but can’t prevent it from being a bore. What stands out are the ballet performances and showing the details of a classical dancer’s life backstage.

The New York City ballet visits Oklahoma City, where its aging star Emma (Ann Bancroft) visits her ex-colleague now a dance teacher and a housewife with children, Deedee (Shirley MacLaine). Both ladies are envious of the other: Emma admires her friend for having such a wonderful family and living in such material comfort with her nice guy husband (Tom Skerritt), while Deedee admires her friend for achieving fame as a prima ballerina. Things get tense when Deedee’s talented teenage daughter Emilia (Leslie Browne) moves to New York to join Emma’s company. Emma is maternal to the girl, who falls in love with the great Soviet dancer but womanizer Yuri (Mikhail Baryshnikov). The old friends let their dark feelings and simmering jealousies emerge over Emma’s dilemma and who will mother her, and they have a catfight in the NYC street. But the ladies regain their senses before the fight ends and reunite to be protective of the vulnerable Emilia.

It’s a film about lost opportunities, finding happiness and seeing how many clichés can be thrown against the wall before it cracks. It’s a film that lays out schmaltz like there was no turning back.

Whatever I might think, the pic had a tremendous box-office success even though it was no Red Shoes.

REVIEWED ON 9/10/2010 GRADE: C+     https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/