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USA 1980
Directed by
Alan Parker
134 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

Fame (1980)

The best thing that one can say about Alan Parker’s hit musical, a kind of Rebel Without A Cause but with leg warmers, is that it stands as a good index of what was considered hip and groovy in 1980. Which means big hair, small shorts, braces (the kind that hold trousers up), headbands, synthesizers and syncopated dance moves.

The structuring premise is that we follow the ups and downs of a handful of supposed talented kids at New York's prestigious High School of The Performing Arts as they go from auditionees to graduates four years later. Yes. Fame does capture a certain teenage self-preoccupation and tenaciously defensive certainty but with its earnest there’s-no-business-like-showbusiness, New York-if-you-can-make-it-there-you-can-make -it-anywhere vibe it is laboriously self-conscious with a roster of types largely played by a cast of unremarkable novices (with the notable exception of Gene Anthony Ray who plays Leroy).

For a film billed as a musical, it has surprisingly few songs and most of them are consistently awful, in particular the big closing production number, “I Sing The Body Electric”. The title song won the Best Song Oscar, launched a career for its singer Irene Cara, and has become an icon of the times with its co-writer, Michael Gore, also winning the Best Original Score Oscar. Ah, the 1980s! You had to be there to love 'em,




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