The Turning Point

1977, Movie, PG, 119 mins

Review

TURNING POINT, THE
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Only the second ballet-based picture (the first was THE RED SHOES) to ever make a dent with popular audiences, THE TURNING POINT is a well-made soap opera with a story that right out of a 1930s backstage musical.

The American Ballet Theatre is touring the US and makes a stop in Oklahoma City. The company's star is Bancroft, painfully thin, dedicated to dance, and having very little life away from her work. Living in DC is her former associate, MacLaine, who opted for love and marriage 20 years before when they were rivals for the prima ballerina role in the company. MacLaine is married to Skerritt; they have three children and a successful ballet school. MacLaine goes to the performance and is bothered by her choice in life. Had she stayed with the ABT and continued, would that prima ballerina on the stage be her and not Bancroft? MacLaine introduces 19-year-old daughter Browne to Bancroft, who recognizes herself and MacLaine in the ambitious girl. Bancroft arranges an audition for Browne, and she is accepted. As the new season approaches, Browne bids farewell to her parents and goes to New York to prepare for her work in the ABT. Bancroft has been a star for many years, and the time has come for her to hang up her tutu. The leading roles are being given to younger ballerinas, and Bancroft realizes that the moment is near when she will begin to teach more than dance. This is depressing for Bancroft, and she wonders if MacLaine didn't make the right decision by marrying Skerritt way back then. Browne is comfortably ensconced in New York by now and has been joined by MacLaine, apparently as a chaperone. But the truth is that MacLaine wants to see if she did right by leaving the ballet. Browne is the lever between the women as they both coach her in various regimens while keeping an eye on each other.

THE TURNING POINT features a few laughs, lots of maudlin moments, superior dancing from a host of real ballerinas, and an occasionally perceptive script. Executive producer Nora Kaye (wife of the director) is herself a former famed ballerina, and producer-director Ross is a one-time choreographer. Ross does his best to convince us that Bancroft can dance, but his fiddling with fast cuts and closeups won't fool anyone who knows anything about ballet. leave a comment

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