Fame (1980) review

We review Fame - the 1980 movie that spawned a hit album, a naff TV spin-off, a stage musical and a 2009 remake


Fame (1980)

Certificate: 15

Starring: Debbie Allen, Irene Cara, Lee Curreri

Release date: 1980

4 out of 5


It spawned a hit album, a naff TV spin-off, a stage musical and a 2009 remake, but the original movie musical Fame, as directed by Alan Parker, remains the classic (and, some may say, the inspiration for 2010 phenomenon Glee). A surprisingly unsanitised look at the (fictional) pupils of the (real) New York High School Of The Performing Arts (parents should note this gritty film has a 15 certificate), it follows a handful of kids as they audition to join the school as dancers, singers, musicians and actors, and then through their four years as students.

There’s shy Doris (Teefy), pushed by her demanding mother to audition; musician Bruno (Curreri), who horrifies the classical music teacher with his love of synthesisers; ambitious dancer Coco (Cara); comedian Ralph (Miller) and street kid Leroy (Ray), who is there with a friend who is auditioning but ends up being accepted into the school himself. The movie shows them as they succeed, fail, work their butts off and learn that the road to showbiz fame isn’t one lined with gold – it’s brutal, upsetting, disappointing, competitive and mean.

Of course, that doesn’t mean this is ultimately a depressing movie, it’s just an often realistic one, peppered with some fantastically-staged moments, such as the iconic song and dance across the roofs of New York taxi cabs, and the spirited finale, which both moves and entertains. Terrific stuff that will have you humming the Oscar-winning theme song for weeks afterwards.

Is Fame (1980) suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...

Nothing scary here, but parents should note that the movie received a 15 certificate for nudity, langauge and mentions of an abortion and drugs. Not suitable for the under-12s.

If you like this, why not try: Bandslam, Footloose, Fame 2009, Step Up, Save The Last Dance,