Fame (1980)

fame poster 1980 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

An interesting look at talent schools

Kind of weird pacing with some drama that does not feel like it pays off at points

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Fame

Studio:  MGM

Genre(s):  Musical/Drama

Release Date(s):  May 12, 1980

MPAA Rating:  R

fame leroy johnson gene anthony ray

Leroy…the best audition

The High School of the Performing Arts is hard to get into.  With applicants having to demonstrate skill in multiple arts, simply being selected is an honor…but surviving all four years of the rigorous education is even more difficult.  Doris Finsecker (Maureen Teefy) wants to act along with Montgomery MacNeil (Paul McCrane).  Ralph Garci (Barry Miller) hopes to follow in the footsteps of his idol Freddie Prinze, Bruno Martelli (Lee Curreri) sees the future of music in electronics, Leroy Johnson (Gene Anthony Ray) finds himself recruited into dance by chance, and Coco Hernandez (Irene Cara) dreams of being a singer…together, they’ll hope to find fame!

Directed by Alan Parker, Fame is a musical drama.  The film was released to critical acclaim and strong box office return.  The film won Academy Awards for Best Original Song (“Fame”) and Best Original Score with nominations for Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Song (“Out Here on My Own”), Best Film Editing, and Best Sound.  The movie spun off into a TV series which ran from 1982 to 1987 and a stage musical in 1987.

fame hot lunch coco bruno irene cara lee curreri

Coco…this could get you in trouble later

We watched the TV series Fame growing up.  Other than the school and some teachers, it didn’t have much ties to the movie, but I always feel a connection to the movie.  Fame shows the challenges of school combining with art.

The basic interest of the movie is how the movie demonstrates how an artist school works.  The tryouts are a highlight of the movie since the pressure that these kids feel to get in is immense.  The school focuses on the four years of the class and both excels at continuing these themes but also fails.  It seems like getting in is the biggest hurdle and that holds true since they all seem to make it out…a moment of reflection is held when they show a former “best in class” student who is lowered to being a waiter in a later scene.

fame doris montgomery paul mccrane maureen teefy

Wait…you’re gay?

The cast is strong, but some of the acting is iffy at points.  The challenge for the filmmakers was finding performers who could both excel in something like dance and act and it didn’t always work, but it isn’t bothersome.  The movie features some other actors in small roles including Richard Belzer as a stand-up host and Meg Tilly in a small role.

The movie looks good.  It utilizes the city of New York enough but doesn’t make it a “New York City” picture in the process.  A trip to a viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show also captures another moment within the film with a nice culture perspective.  The performances and music also are quite good within the musical for the most part as integrated music.

Fame is a fun film will leave you singing the main theme.  The TV series featured the return Debbie Allen, Lee Curreri, Albert Hague, and Gene Anthony Ray and had its moments itself.  Fame featured a remake/relaunch in 2009 with a film of the same name (it was met with negative reviews).

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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