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Alan Parker's popular musical mixes troubled teens with infectious musical numbers to award-winning effect - even if it was eclipsed by its soundtrack and spin-off TV series
Somewhat darker than the TV series it spawned, musical drama Fame punctuates its bright and breezy song and dance sequences with gloomy observations on inner city life.
No less than eight central characters compete for the limelight as they enrol at the New York City High School for the Performing Arts: there's ambitious singer Coco (Cara), who forms a hesitant bond with sensitive pianist Bruno (Curreri); there's downtrodden Doris (Teefy) who gains confidence through friendship with troubled gay Montgomery (McCrane) and romance with troubled straight Ralph (Miller); then there's rebellious dancer Leroy (Ray) who gets it on with spoiled ballerina Hilary (Franceschi), and - out on her own - Lisa (Dean), whose dancing ambitions are questioned by her teacher.
Alan Parker's film attempts to cram all their stories into brief, dramatic scenes rarely prepared for by sufficient characterisation - although Doris and Montgomery are introduced more thoroughly and are subsequently at the centre of some of the film's more effective plot strands. Fame is at its strongest, though, when pushing the feelgood buttons: the spontaneous jamming session in the lunch room is winningly uplifting, ditto the street dancing scene - if you're able to suspend your disbelief even further.
It's telling that this film is best remembered for its music and dancing: its attempts at serious ensemble drama have mixed results. Not exactly an 80s classic, but a memorable film that won awards for its songs and kicked off something of a phenomenon (the series, the audience participation screenings, the stage shows).
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