A Chorus Line (1985)

a chorus line poster 1985 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good looking musical

Doesn't have the bite it needs

Movie Info

Movie Name:  A Chorus Line

Studio:  Embassy Films Associates

Genre(s):  Musical/Drama

Release Date(s):  December 13, 1985

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

a chorus line zach michael douglas

Greed is good…I will own Broadway and Wall Street!!!

One singular sensation!  Zach (Michael Douglas) is putting together a new show and gathering a chorus line.  The hopefuls pin their hopes and dreams on getting the part but simply being the best dancer might not cut it.  Zach wants his dancer to tap into their pain and hurt and put it into their dance.  When his former lover Cassie (Alyson Reed) returns and seeks a part, old wounds might resurface.

Directed by Richard Attenborough, A Chorus Line adapts the 1975 Pulitzer Prize winning musical.  The film was released to mixed reviews.  It received Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song (“Surprise, Surprise”), Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Mixing.

a chorus line cassie alyson reedA Chorus Line was a monumental stage musical.  Many people said it couldn’t be turned into a film.  Dealing with a lot of issues and a strong soundtrack provides plenty for a movie…but A Chorus Line turns out rather flat.

The problem with A Chorus Line is that it is more about issues and ideas than necessarily a story.  The play was noted for dealing with homosexuality and other issues, and it does exist in the movie, but it is softened…this feels like the whole musical.  It doesn’t feel hard enough.  Fame has a very similar feeling idea of dreams…but it scores better than A Chorus Line on film.

The cast is rather bland.  Michael Douglas plays the hard-edged choreographer trying to get the best out of his candidates and he has a rocky relation with his ex-lover (who originally got cut in the stage play).  Alyson Reed does an ok job in this role, but it would have helped to have the mostly unknown cast peppered with a few familiar faces…but then the quality of dance goes down.

a chorus line cast ending one

Wait…this is the final product?

The movie looks pretty good for a film locked in essentially one set.  The course of the film rarely leaves the stage and that provides challenges for a director.  Attenborough did manage to make it keep looking fresh and the dance numbers work.

A Chorus Line just doesn’t translate well.  It isn’t the worst movie musical you’ll see but it might leave you questioning how the musical became such a massive hit.  The other question that A Chorus Line leaves me with is:   “What type of musical is Zach making?”  It seems like a really limited appeal…I wouldn’t get too hung up on getting a part in the show if I were the characters.  It probably would shut down in a month anyway.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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