The Turning Point
By Tom Keogh
Mikhail Baryshnikov made his film debut in this lightweight but
entertaining drama about the relationship between a renowned ballerina
(Anne Bancroft) and the woman (Shirley MacLaine) who had trained with her
but had given up dance to become a wife, mother, and teacher. Between
MacLaine's envy over her friend's career and the attention her own
ballerina daughter (Leslie Browne) is getting, MacLaine's character goes
through a complicated crisis. The two actresses carry the story very well
and probably camouflage its thinness; they even make a somewhat
condescending climax involving a catfight seem like a good idea. A subplot
involving a developing romance between the virginal Browne and
Baryshnikov's womanizer makes for pretty window dressing. More memorable
are dance sequences featuring each in splendid performance. Baryshnikov's
leaps are something to behold.
The Turning Point received Academy Awards
nominations for Best Picture (Herbert Ross - Producer, Arthur Laurents -
Producer), Actress (Shirley MacLaine), Actress (Anne Bancroft), Supporting
Actor (Mikhail Baryshnikov), Supporting Actress (Leslie Browne), Directing
(Herbert Ross), Writing (Best Screenplay written directly for the screen;
Arthur Laurents), Art Direction/Set Decoration (Albert Brenner - Art
Direction, Marvin March - Set Decoration), Cinematography (Robert L.
Surtees), Film Editing (William H. Reynolds) and Sound (Theodore Soderberg,
Paul Wells, Douglas O. Williams, Jerry Jost).