Fame – 1980 (Blu-ray Review)

Fame - 1980 (Blu-ray Review)If you love the attire and mediocre acting of 1980’s then, you will love Fame.  I watched this movie waiting patiently for the good song and dance numbers but sadly they never came.  The choreography was absolutely terrible along with the dancers.  Even the theme song number in the street was a major disappointment.  It looked like a bunch of teenagers in bad outfits having simultaneous spasms all over the vehicles.  The movie had humorous and heartwarming moments but overall I would rather watch something like Chicago or Rent.  Don’t get me wrong I am a huge fan of Broadway and musicals in general.  Unfortunately Fame left much to be desired in the musical genre. 

The Film 

Fame takes place in the Manhattan School of the Performing Arts where only the best and most talented students are accepted.  However, Fame gives the illusion that talent is not part of the application criteria; for example, the overweight ballerina, the awkward actress (Maureen Teefy) and the illiterate hip-hop dancer (Gene Anthony Ray).  The storyline follows seven students from auditions before freshman year through the very less than professional graduation musical finale.

Bruno (Lee Curreri) the keyboard player is ahead of his time using synthesized instruments.  Due to teenage insecurities, he only wants to play music alone.  Not to worry his cabbie-daddy tells him he needs to stop keeping all his creativity to himself, after all Elton John’s mother has seven fur coats.  To this comment, as any teen son would, Bruno rolls his eyes from the back seat of the cab. Does he have to pay fare… I wonder?

We watch as mousy little Doris (Teefy) the a nice little Jewish girl get high at the Rocky Horror Picture Show, get busy on a bare mattress, and change her name to Dominique.  The transformation was entertaining as unrealistic as it was.  Later Dominique breaks a dinner date with a friend to go get “exposure” as a singer at a screaming toddler’s birthday party. I love the hat she sort of adopts as her signature piece of attire.

Ralph Garci (Barry Miller) who plays Doris’ boyfriend seems more like a needy pet than a boyfriend.  Ralph is a aspiring stand-up comic.  He thinks that making people laugh is the only thing he will ever be any good at. Clearly if you are the class clown or you can make a five year old laugh (as Ralph did his little sister) then your career path should by all means be a professional comedian.  However, Ralph has this minor obsession with Freddie Prinze and unfortunately starts to unravel in the same manner.  While still in high school he is frequenting the night club scene drinking and getting high on whatever he can get his hands on.  Ralph then realizes the harsh reality that not everyone makes it in this business.

Yes some of the graduates from the School of Performing Arts just may not make it to the big time. Like Coco Hernandez (Irene Cara) a screen test may end up with a naive girl being tricked into getting topless for some sleaze with a camera.  Coco did play in the highlight of the movie with an impressive solo.  Hearing her belt out “On My Own” did leave me wanting to hear more.  I could feel her emotion through that performance.

Let’s not leave out Montgomery (Paul McCrane) the Carrot Top look-alike who bravely comes out of the closet during the film.  Unlike recent films our dear Montgomery stays single with no prospects throughout the entire movie.  He lets the cat out of the bag one afternoon when he tells Doris that he is in love with a man.

By the end of the film these seven kids end up expecting that by graduation they will all have directors, producers, and choreographers lined up at their doors begging them to come be stars.  As the odds were stacked against them they continued to press on toward their dreams.  Maybe giving the students “seven classes a day and a hot lunch” just wasn’t enough.  I’d say judging by their level of talent at graduation they will all get plenty of experience waiting tables.



Blu-ray was a world of difference having seen the original VHS release of Fame.  The images were sharper and clearer making it much easier on the eyes.  All the neon lights of downtown were bright and there was minimal fuzziness around them.  Although the shadowing was still intact, I didn’t notice too much graininess to be problematic.  It was just such a vast improvement from the original; it didn’t leave much room for complaint.

Video codec: VC-1
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1



The dialogue is clear and understandable.  I couldn’t find any areas where words seemed garbled or not in sync with the moving lips.  There didn’t seem to be any extra noises either, no white “fuzz” noises, clicks, pops, or any other sometimes random noises that seem to creep into digitally remastered films.  Fun fact: Alan Parker makes note that all the performers shown playing an instrument are actually playing.  How often does that happen?

English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
French: Dolby Digital 2.0
Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0
German: Dolby Digital 2.0
Italian: Dolby Digital 1.0  


Special Features 

As I note below, all special features are disappointingly in standard-definition.

On Location with Fame: This was an interesting watch.  It once again reminded me of the upgrade in quality with the Blu-ray as opposed to the original as the extras were all in standard-definition original format.  I’m always interested in interviews with cast and crewmembers, so this was twelve minutes well spent for me.

Commentary by Alan Parker (director): He talks about the casting, auditions, and filming.  This less intrigued me than the interviews with the main cast members, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Interviews with Cast and Crew – This can be turned on during the movie to provide pop-ups or can be watched individually from the disc’s menu.

Fame Field Trip – A brief 2003 documentary looking at the real Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.

Soundtrack Sampler : The movie comes with a bonus disc of four songs from the movie.  It includes two versions of “Fame” for those of you who just can’t get enough of that tune.  Now you can take it with you anywhere!

Theatrical Trailer


Final Thoughts 

I think I’ve made my opinion pretty clear throughout my review, but as I said in the beginning the movie wasn’t completely terrible.   It was definitely not the best movie I’ve ever spent two hours watching, but I would recommend watching it once.  At least so you can say you’ve seen it.  There were moments I found myself almost chuckling and times I felt sorry for the characters.  I’m glad I can say I saw the new and improved version of Fame (1980).  Unlike the theme song indicates, we will not live forever.  With that said, if you’re going to rent this flick do just that.  Rent it, watch it, and return it. 


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Fame (1980) Blu-ray Cover Art



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