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  • Ostensibly about the competitiveness between gifted young pianists, this picture is actually about ambition, disappointment, sacrifice, love, betrayal and a lot more. By the time this film was made, Dreyfuss had already fallen into his period of self-adulation during which he exalted himself, but sometimes, sadly, not his work. Amy Irving had not yet married (and divorced) Steven Spielberg, a move that for many reasons probably ended her career in Hollywood. As leads, they both came to their roles in perfect form, and their intelligent and layered performances are the centerpiece of this astounding ensemble cast.

    The movie does a great job of convincing us that we are looking through the keyhole into the rarefied world of young pianists who look upon the likes Vladimir Ashkenazy as a peer while still finding themselves as adults. They angst over their futures, which always seem just out of reach, and then render performances of the classical repertoire that amaze and delight. All the while, they trip through the comically serious pas de deux of youthful obsession.

    Lee Remick is stunning as the demanding teacher to Heidi Joan Schoonover (Irving). I get the feeling that the original character was supposed to be a lesbian, but Remick's instrument won't play that note. Instead, she is a hard-nosed, totally serious, single-minded taskmaster who demands, and brings forth, the best from her pupil. Dreyfuss is the driven and desperate young man who, while gifted, has never been able to break through as a serious musician, and who, hounded by financial responsibilities and tempted by a job that cannot possibly provide more than a paycheck, runs the risk of being washed up at 25.

    They become romantically involved, much to Remick's dismay, only to find themselves competing head to head for the most coveted prize in their field. Can they work it out knowing that only one of them can win? Hey, it's the 80's!

    There are basically two kinds of movies. Those in which things happen, and those in which we get to know the characters. This is a shining example of the latter. I've loved this film since its original release, but I still yearn for a DVD edition.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "The Competition" is a very enjoyable movie and delves slightly into the stress of piano-competition. There are more shenanigans going-on that are not apparent in this type of competition, not only for the many pianists' stresses, but also on the part the judges play in choosing the finalist. Those competitions deal with humans, and ANYTHING can influence the judges' decisions. The best pianist does not always win. This movie shows some of the competitors' "required" pieces being performed: it's more than the "concerto"-playing part of the contest. In many competitions, the pianist is given an unfamiliar score for "sight-reading" and affects the final judgment. The "concerto"-playing event is always the big one: after making it to that event, the stress is almost unbearable. You only get to play the concerto once; anything can screw it up. When a major artist releases ANY recorded concerto, the general public does not always realize the recording is not done in one sitting. Just like scenes in a movie, many passages are recorded several times and the best chosen to splice them all seamlessly together. For the "concerto"-playing event, you have one crack at it. Heck, one could play flawlessly, but a judge may just not like them at that particular performance. Very similar to skating in the Olympics, "deals" are made, too.....

    Many years ago, I was a concert-pianist talent. To me, ALL of the six finalists' synchronized banging looked pretty good. It is my opinion, some of the competitors who didn't make it to the big event WERE actually playing. AND, I also think that "Tatjana" (Vicki Kriegler) was actually playing the short sequences of Braham's 1st Concerto. I'm very familiar with that concerto, and it's a killer. What convinces me of this is the "curve" of her fingers of her left hand which is necessary to play those big chords. After all, actors/actresses DO play piano !!! Her role didn't call for her to "place", anyway......I also agree that "Heidi" (Amy Irving) almost convinced me she was playing Prokofiev's #3 - another ballbuster. Great coaching! That entire scene was brilliant, with "Erskine" (Sam Wanamaker) looking over his shoulder at her, realizing "Dietrich's" (Richard Dreyfus) performance was popular with the audience (did you notice the orchestra stood-up?), but "Heidi" made them all look like first-year students. Po' ole "DiSalvo" (Joseph Cali) had to follow her ! Most comments thought "Greta Vandernmann" (Lee Remick) was a-bitch-on-wheels teacher. Brava, Lee ! She was only certain her pupil was the best, but her own career had taught her raw talent wasn't the only ingredient necessary to make a world-class pianist. Just like football-coaches, piano-teachers can be brutally tyrannical - not nice at all. Does anyone remember the admonishment "those who can't play teach"? Lots of jealousy in there......

    It doesn't matter that the plot of this movie was predictable - "Paul" WAS a bit too assured and rude. The "gotta-make-a-stop" scene told the whole story; we are there to make music, not sex. Noticeably, it was "Paul's" last shot; "Heidi" had nothing to lose and was confident of her talent. The chemistry between the two was there with brilliant acting - especially, "I-never-thought-you-could-play-better-than-me" scene. The entire cast was stellar, as was the directing.

    Oh - for "stetsons" - there ARE DVDs available on eBay. Be careful what you buy ! And, many DVDs of all of the concerti by many great artists are available. If you want to revel in this awesome music, imagine how the entireties of these concerti will wow you - you heard only passages of each. For the Prokofiev piece, just remember "Heidi's" hands.....

    "The Competition" has something for all kinds of movie-watchers. Good acting, believable characters, a little political intrigue, a little "backstage" intrigue, lovely cinematography and all that great music. What a winner - 10, no doubt !
  • Amy Irving, Richard Dreyfuss, Lee Remick, and Sam Wanamaker star in "The Competition," a 1980 film, written and directed by Joel Oliansky. The story concerns pianists gathering for the semifinals of a competition in San Francisco. Paul Dietrich (Dreyfuss) has one last shot at a career as a pianist, given his age, and the fact that his parents have been supporting him, and his dad is in bad shape. Heidi (Irving) knew Paul from a summer program. She studies with a top teacher, Greta Vandeman (Remick) and is there basically to see how far she can go. Despite Paul's attempts to put off the smitten Heidi, he finally admits his feelings, and the two fall in love. Greta isn't happy - she's afraid Heidi is going to lose her competitive edge and take a back seat so that Paul can win.

    This very good movie is just about overshadowed by the brilliant music and the magnificent fingerings and look of the actors as they're playing. They obviously had the benefit of great coaching.

    The film gives a realistic look at the tension of competitions, and the various states of mind that people have going into them. For Paul, it's his last shot; the Joseph Cali character wants to use it as a steppingstone to Vegas and a Liberace-type act; Heidi has nothing to lose. There is a lot of psychoanalysis throughout the film, which some may find off-putting. It does go on.

    Amy Irving is an excellent actress, and she does a beautiful job here. Dreyfuss is also excellent, coming off as desperate, arrogant, and sad. Lee Remick is the ultimate piano teacher who knows too well the pitfalls of being a woman, particularly a woman in love.

    If you like classical piano, don't miss "The Competition."
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I must admit this was a great musical thrill as well as a pretty good love story between the competition, a very skinny Richard Dreyfuss and Amy Irving, who were trained competently for difficult hand movements while classical pianists did a good job. In the story she was trained for perfection by her teacher, Lee Remick. Such a wonderful actress she was!! What a pleasure it was to see her again, as well as listen to such fine classical music. Amy wins the prize for playing a very difficult piece of Prokiev; and, alas, a warm love story between the competitors. I highly recommend this to all classical music lovers; even though I don't know that much about them. I loved it, give it 8/10
  • The Competition (1980)

    The Main Cast:

    Richard Dreyfuss (Paul Dietrich) Amy Irving (Heidi Joan Schoonover) Lee Remick (Greta Vandemann)

    Two concert pianists, played by Richard Dreyfuss and Amy Irving, fall in love at a prestigeous competition they are finalists in, but there is much more to the story than that. The film gives an insight as to what takes place in those competitions during which the participants must be aware of and protect themselves from the "competitive edge" of the other pianists. The acting by the entire cast and the directing is exceptional, but what is more exceptional than that is the fingersynching of the actors while appearing to actually play the piano. The late Lee Remick is outstanding as Amy Irving's teacher. A thoroughly enjoyable film with great acting, script, direction and music. A tip of the hat should go to Jean Evensen Shaw and her assistant Dorothy Hull for tutoring the actors about where, when and how to place their fingers on the keyboard. But, since nothing is ever perfect, I can still imagine James Mason, who wasn't in the movie, rapping the knuckles of a few of the pianists because of poor hand position. Richard Dreyfuss was the worst. Amy Irving was perfect! She had her hands always above the keys and did a stellar job of fingersynching the playing of Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Concerto #3, which is actually played by Daniel Pollack. The 5 minutes and 25 seconds Amy Irving spent at the piano during the performance of that piece was one of the highlights of the film. I can't praise this film too highly. However, the end left something to be desired, although not as much as one would think. But I would be remiss in my praise if I didn't at least give the lion's share of the credit to Joel Oliansky for all the hard work he and his crew put into the making of this film and getting it to the public.
  • First the flaws: the extraneous characters of the various competitors are pretty blatant stereotypes, not offensive, but not particularly compelling either. The time spent on them would have been better spent on further development of the relationship between Paul (Richard Dreyfuss) and Heidi (Amy Irving) two pianists facing off in the same competition who fall in love while preparing for it. Secondly, the "contemporary" was released in 1980, but all you hear in bars and at parties is disco music. It makes everything seem a little too quaint and cute to be real.

    Moments of greatness: The clashes and arguments that ensue between Paul and Heidi make it obvious why they fall in love, but it happens very quickly. Which is fine in a standard romance, but that isn't what this movie is. These two people are complex individuals with various insecurities and desires that make the love story so great, so interesting and so real. But the ending feels strange...a lot happens before the film's resolution, and leaves me feeling that the characters haven't been explored enough. The movie's shining moment is during the second half of the competition, when Paul has already played and Heidi proceeds to blow him out of the water. Irving's performance onstage is totally convincing, and Dreyfuss conveys an incredible amount of emotion and intelligence simply in his reactions to the piece.

    The tension here is incredible, and very, very real. A good movie--one that dares to show its characters in an unglamorous, real way few movies have
  • Good drama with great classical music. Not an incisive examination of the cutthroat world of music competition although they do delve into it somewhat. More a drama of a selfish man letting down his defenses and a young girl who learns more than she bargains for when she lets down her guard.

    Excellent performances from the leads with Lee Remick adding her special brand of class but putting an icy edge to it as Amy's teacher. The only rough patch is when the two leads, who are remarkably free of rhythm for supposed musicians, dance to contemporary and quite awful music. They're glue-foots.

    For classical music lovers this will be a treat.
  • Where is the DVD of this Movie? Why Haven't They Made A DVD Of This Great Movie? I want to Own a DVD of this GREAT Movie! Richard Dreyfuff & Amy Irving give Excellent Performances in this Movie! The Movie Plot is Very Romantic & Yet Very Competitive! It is a Very Interesting Combination that works well together! The Music in this Movie is Fantastic! Not all of Us get a chance to listen to this kind of Classical Music. This is a Good way for Us to get to listen to these Compositions & enjoy some of the Classics! My VHS is Completely Worn Out....I Need the DVD of This Movie... to Watch when ever I would like too! Mystic Wolf
  • I loved 'The Competition', though the characters and situations were predictable and stereotyped, (i.e. domineering teachers and butthole conductors) mostly because it told me that there are many people interested in music and 'behind the scenes' of what it means to devote your life to music. Most of all, the movie piqued my interest in Prokoviev, so that I now collect his music. Not bad for the price of a movie ticket!
  • UACW28 November 2001
    To begin without thanking the principals for awesome piano faking would be horrendous, likewise to not applaud their training by Jean Evensen Shaw. There is a precision to what they do, with Amy and Richard to be sure but with all of them, that is astounding. It's a sweet tale but also an insight into the cruel world of music competition where the real hero this time around has to be Ludvig himself. If you have music and performing in you; if you have been classically trained; if you believe in love; then you will in turn love this movie and its music.
  • Richard Dreyfuss (Mr. Holland's Opus, The Good Bye Girl), plays Paul Dietrich. a very problematic and sometimes annoying pianist. Paul is supported by his parents that puts pressure on him. He is also thirty years old and this is the cutting edge for this type of music competition. This is his last competition. All he wants to do is win, no matter how, and is hurting himself because of it. Amy Irving (Yentl), plays another pianist who is much more relaxed with herself and her music. Her teacher, Greta Vandemann, played by Lee Remick (Anatomy of a Murder) is possessive about Heidi. Greta Vandemann can trace her teachers all the way up to Beethoven himself! Heidi does not have the pressures that Paul has, she does not even care about winning. She stays in this beautiful house in San Francisco where she can practice on her nice piano, and Paul stays in a cheap hotel. He is a walking volcano. He is petulant, arrogant and annoying but at the same time can cry, which shows that he is human, vulnerable and also very afraid. He hides his feelings but it shows in his behavior. There are other musicians: the black guy who likes practicing the piano naked, the Italian who can play only one concerto but he is really looking for a way to become another De Niro, Pacino or Travolta. There is a very young Russian that adds a little suspense to the plot. They are all stereotypes. My favorite scenes are: Paul teaching Heidi how to drive a car; Heidi stopping playing in the middle of her performance because the middle register is uneven; how beautifully she played Prokofiev ‘s 3rd Concert; Paul been astonished because he was unaware that she could really play; Paul telling Greta that must to be a tremendous responsibility in having to know everything. Greta jumping for joy because she is always so proper. That shows another side to her. This is an enjoyable movie especially for pianists and musicians.
  • I was about to start this review by pointing out that I think 'The Competition' is merely an example of 'typical Hollywood schmaltz, but that would be unfair. For one thing, it's not 'typical'. There, I've got that out of the way.

    Directed by once only director Joel Oliansky. it stars Richard Dreyfuss and Amy Irving as a pair of duelling pianists who are trying to win the piano competition of the title. Dreyfuss is a mercurial genius in two minds whether to persist with his career, as other pianists are receiving the recognition he feels he deserves. For this reason he is losing his perseverance to carry on and feels that he should abandon his nomadic life of travelling around the country competing in these types of events and just 'get a life' like everyone else. Irving is the conscientious worker with a dedicated teacher: with a little luck and perseverance she can be a winner and doesn't need the brashness of Dreyfuss to succeed. Irving and Dreyfuss are meant to be competing with each other, but what do they do? Yep, you guessed it. Questions arise as to who is the most dedicated, which one of them deserves a career in classical music, and how fate somehow has a role in all our lives - more than we are prepared to admit.

    The piano performances as captured on film are better than most. The two actors trained to mimic at least the appearance of playing at concert level. Their piano performances were actually recorded by two prodigies of that era, Daniel Pollack and Chester B. Swiatkowski, and then dubbed later on. Aside from this competent presentation of piano music, penned by the great classical composers and performed with an accuracy that Hollywood is not renowned for, 'The Competition' is unfortunately, a little bit dull. Sam Wanamaker has a small but entertaining role as a temperamental conductor who takes no nonsense from his students in the competition. The respective parents of the protagonists for example, are stock characters and are brought into the story for a bit of interest but their impact is minimal. There are a few interesting minor characters who round out the competitors but they have minimal screen time. One sub-plot involves an eastern bloc competitor defecting to the west but it really is of less interest than the main plot involving whether Irving and Dreyfuss can overcome their differences and have a romantic relationship away from their individual dedication to the piano.

    The principal thespians Amy Irving and Richard Dreyfuss have on-screen rapport and work well with each other. But somehow they spend too much time either in competition, or going out on dates and wondering if this means whether they're having a relationship or not. Amy Irving was at one stage married to Stephen Spielberg. She was an extremely talented young actress, but her career seemed not to go anywhere, appearing to fall out of favour with the public. Richard Dreyfuss subsequently had a hiatus due to personal problems but had the talent to return and carry on his successful career. My perennial favourite Lee Remick has a featured role as Irving's wise and demanding piano teacher and she looks beautiful and is a major asset to the project. Classical music is rarely used as the backdrop for a story in a Hollywood film and I suppose we should at least be grateful to 'The Competition' for that but otherwise in most other respects it is the type of conventional entertainment we have come to expect from Hollywood 'The Competition' just scrapes by with a pass mark from me because of the music, and if it tweaks your interest in the subject, become a member of Naxos and you can get your classical music education from there.
  • It's been quite a few years since I've seen this movie so forget all the details, but remember it more as an engrossing character study than a romance...and all with the added attraction of the classical piano context. The story is set at a prestigious piano competition in San Francisco. Paul is considered an older contestant at age 25. This is his last chance for a prestigious win that will spare him a teaching career and also please the father who is so proud of his son. Heidi is the lovely young newcomer virtuoso who poses his major competition. Winning is much more crucial here to Paul than to Heidi. Not unexpectedly, romantic feelings develop between the two rivals, who must both strive to be at their peak for the competition performances.

    The lead roles are well cast with Richard Dreyfuss portraying the talented but desperate musician, Paul, and Amy Irving his gifted & more relaxed competitor, Heidi. I was impressed at the finger synching method used during the piano performances. Though not a musician myself, it seemed convincing to me that these actors were actually playing the pieces. I've remembered all these years that it was a Prokofiev Concerto that Heidi played so brilliantly. Lee Remick is Heidi's teacher, Gretchen, a possessive and demanding taskmaster who naturally does not approve of the budding romance.

    The movie is not limited simply to rivals Paul and Heidi, but an assortment of other admittedly rather stereotypical competitors are also featured. This is a drama depicting in general the tension, rivalry, ambition, disappointment & triumph of high stakes competition, whatever the field. Therefore, the themes are something a lot of viewers, even non musicians, can relate to in one way or another. Of course there is a question of potential sacrifice here, as these two competitors have fallen in love. Whatever the chemistry between Paul & Heidi, the romance itself is quite forgettable. The fierce competition rivalry and the backdrop of classical piano are the memorable elements that distinguish this film from all the other love stories out there. This is a must see movie for pianists and indeed all classical music lovers.
  • I have just watched the Competition for a third time, once when originally released, once with my late mother who was a pianist, today with my new bride. Although not a classical music big fan, the music is presented with such passion I found myself drawn into it. Young Amy Irving and Richard Dreyfuss are very appealing and believable. Other characters are fun and interesting as well. It is a great blending of a lot of music, the tension around a competition, the stirring of a love story. I recommend it enthusiastically but you must be willing to sit through the piano music sequences.
  • The blend of romance, music, and comedy and relevance of music to the modern world have never been so relevant. And the San Francisco locations are used for all they're worth by sumptuous photography. A feel-good movie that rings true throughout. The chemistry between Dreyfus and Irving alone is worth watching, but some of the lines such as "It costs extra to have the word "schmuck" added to a tombstone, but in your case it would be worth the expense." add to the movie's timelessness.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    If this flick was going to be the great prelude to the movie "Shine," I would definitely say yes.

    As you may know, "Shine" also takes place during a big piano concerto competition at the Royal College of Music, where the character David Helfgott tries to the utmost to beat his schizophrenic mind as he plays the most notorious concerto ever--The Rachmaninov Piano Concerto no. 3.

    "The Competition" also takes a moderate borrowing from the aspects and the plots from another movie called "Madame Sousatka", which depicts a competitive piano performer preparing for a concerto competition with Schumann's A Minor Piano Concerto, with an old--but very strict---piano teacher. Both movies tell a little bit on how some people are so obsessed with practicing for a piano competition and teachers who are almost or not almost always strict in pianistic interpretation.

    But what makes "The Competition" even better than "Madame Sousatka" or "Shine" is how a romance can make or break piano competition training, and how winning a competition can change your life for the better. The best character I liked was the one played by Amy Irving.

    During the final competition scene, where competing piano concerto participants play with a full orchestra, you hear snipets from some of the great piano concertos that are still played today. They were: the Haydn D Major Concerto, The G minor by Saint-Saens, the 3rd Concerto in C Major by Prokofiev, and the Emperor Piano Concerto by Beethoven.
  • JBrannon23 October 2006
    This film about a piano competition made plain that the real competition was to find out how to see what was really important in one's life.

    As good a pianist as Dreyfus was, it was obvious from the film in how he seized direction of the orchestra, that he had the seeds of greatness as a conductor.

    And, in the end, he gave Lee Remick the lie when she said that great line to Amy Irving: "No man is that good."

    The disparate goals entwined in the side stories of the other contestants underscored Irving's purity of purpose. Only she sought the piano for the love of the piano.

    In many ways, Dreyfus' character evoked Jack Nicholson's Oedipean quest for paternal acceptance of worth in the classic _Five Easy Pieces_.

    Dreyfus was also able to play "young", since he was 33 when the film was released, whereas Irving was actually 25 when the film was made.
  • This movie combines two of my favorite subjects: classical piano concertos and competitions. Here, Paul Dietrich (Richard Dreyfuss) must decide whether to get a real job or continue his attempt—at his parents' expense—to become a great concert pianist. Though things don't look too promising at his age, he decides to take one LAST attempt at his long-planned career as a concert pianist before "throwing in the towel."

    This chance arises with an announced competition in San Francisco. When he arrives, another pianist, Hiedie Joan Schoonover (Amy Irvin), recognizes him from a previous competition at Tanglewood even though he pretends not to recognize her at first.

    Paul vows NOT to become romantically involved with her since he knows that personal involvement and competition do not mix!!! However, an unforeseen delay in the finals, coupled with devastating news from home, draws Paul to Heidi in spite of his vow.

    Another element to the story is that Heidi's teacher, Greta Vandermann (Lee Remick), wants to continue a teacher-pupil linage which stems clear back to Beethoven. So, this competition is also Greta's chance to continue this linage. The movie is also enhanced by Sam Wanamaker, who makes a great temperamental conductor.

    For the record, in the portrayed competition: Paul performs Beethoven's Emperor Concerto and Heidi performs Prokofiev's 3rd Piano Concerto.
  • edwagreen5 June 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    Fabulous film about the lives of pianists vying in a major competition that shall allow the winner an open-door to success.

    Dreyfuss must have had a thing with music for years later he starred in the also very good "Mr. Holland's Opus," In that flick he dedicated his life to teaching music in the schools; in this film, he lets an opportunity of teaching go by to vie in this important musical contest.

    Amy Irving is also wonderful as Dreyfuss' competitor and lover. The part with the Russian assistant applying for asylum should have been played up more. Too bad that the Russian lady who loses just stands there as a wall-flower at picture's end.

    Lee Remick shined in a supporting role as an imperious pianist, turned teacher who still has a heart by the end.

    That contestant from the Bronx just couldn't get that Bronx way of life out of him and that scene where his mother slaps him for revealing his delinquent past from very funny at best.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The first thing about this film (from 1980) is that it really is an odd duck. How many movies do you see where the outcome of the plot hinges on a piano concerto? It's hard to imagine a movie like this being made today except as an indie film -- no car chases, explosions, fights, and not even anyone you could legitimately call a villain. The world of classical music is front and center from beginning to end, as seen through the progress of the six finalists in an ultra-prestigious competition for young pianists, held in San Francisco. The story concentrates on Paul (Richard Dreyfuss) and Heidi (Amy Irving), but we get intriguing looks at the other four finalists too through briefer vignettes. The time spent on those others probably does take away from a fuller development of the growing relationship between the two main characters, and it leaves a bit of a messy overall structure, but I think it's worth it -- everything adds usefully to the context so that we get a picture of how all their different personalities fit in and what their different goals are. We get to see the total exhilaration of nailing a performance, as well as the crushing loss for the ones who didn't make it through.

    Not surprisingly, Richard Dreyfuss plays Paul with wild ups and downs, mixing male ego, fragility, and generosity unpredictably. Though Heidi's a bit younger, she's steadier, more self-confident, and the control voice in their relationship. They go through three or four cycles of Paul messing up and then finding ways to apologize, which continues right up to the final scene. (The first time around, he meekly asks Heidi 'Can we talk?' and Heidi replies icily 'So far there's no evidence of that.' If he wants her he'll have to work a bit harder.)

    The actors in the cast who are most successful at getting this unique world right may be the veterans Lee Remick (playing a former concert pianist herself and now Heidi's stern, worldly-wise teacher) and Sam Wanamaker (the egotistical and somewhat overbearing conductor). They're great. The dialog is quirky, at times leaving the impression that every second line is missing, or that the actors were given first drafts of a script that never quite got polished. The flip side is that it's often unpredictable -- they say or do things you weren't expecting to happen. The biggest examples are the final performances themselves: under incredible pressure knowing this might be his last chance, Paul delivers the performance of his life with the Beethoven Emperor Concerto. It's the culmination of his whole career and in a normal feel-good plot, victory seems like it's lock. But the next night, Heidi goes out and gives the performance of *her* life with the Prokofiev concerto -- and it's better.

    There are lots of other little gems, such as the scene where Paul and Heidi are walking on the San Francisco wharf arguing intensely, but run randomly into three French sailors (why sailors? why French?? who knows.). Paul angrily starts a disorganized scuffle with them, but then Heidi shouts "Paul! Open your hands!" realizing that if he slugs one of them he'll damage his fingers. Then to defuse things she tells the sailors (in mangled French) that her 'fiance' is terminally ill. And near the end, after the competition is all over and the celebrations have begun, we see Remick quietly go off alone and leap for joy, experiencing the unique type of victory that only a teacher can feel.

    Most of all, there's the music. Lots of it: Liszt, Saint-Saens, Chopin, Beethoven, Brahms, Prokofiev, Mozart. Other reviewers have described how the actors trained hard to hand-sync with the music to make their playing look like the real thing as much as possible. Irving is the most successful at this. Her performance of the Prokofiev (which really is ferociously difficult) is amazing, and for me this sequence is the high point of the film. It's worth saying too that all the characters, from the conductor and teachers on through the competitors, are shown as totally respecting the music itself and the process of performing, even though personality clashes and maneuvering go on behind the scenes.

    There aren't many films this one can be compared with. There is "Rhapsody" from 1954, "Counterpoint" (1967), "Shine" (1996), "A Late Quartet" (2012), and of course "Amadeus" (1984). Some of these were better-done and higher-profile movies, but they all use classical music mainly as a setting for character interaction. "The Competition" focuses more purely on the music itself and the process of performance, and that's its main strength.

    Thankfully, you can get this on DVD now.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A superlative and nearly one-of-a-kind film focusing on dedicated & gifted individuals existing within the realm of intensive Music performance & high-stakes competition (in this case among Classical piano prodigies) aptly titled "The Competition" = a nearly forgotten cinematic Gem originally released in 1980.

    It stars Richard Dreyfuss and Amy Irving at the height of their careers, directed by Joel Oliansky.

    Dreyfuss plays Paul Dietrich a veteran pianist (and aging 'prodigy') who has one last opportunity to make a name for himself by winning this prestigious international piano competition (otherwise settling into a more secure but uneventful middle-of-the-road teaching position) and Amy Irving as Heidi Joan Schoonover, the newcomer with abundant natural musical gifts & tireless energy, but less experienced in the performance arena.

    Where this film really shines is in the authentic chemistry emanating from the interactions and natural charisma of the two Leads! Both Amy Irving and Dreyfuss are completely believable as the sensitive, dedicated (and in the case of Dreyfuss also somewhat emotionally volatile) musical interpreters/ committed performance artists, each wanting to prove to be the absolute Best in competition - but also strongly desiring meaningful human connection along the way!

    The burning question being as follows > will their burgeoning romance interfere with their naturally fierce competitive spirits - or will they actually be able to bring out the best in each other as both performers and people?

    Watch this great and heartfelt 'Lost-treasure' to find out!

    It also doesn't hurt that much authentically Great Music is also featured: like Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Prokofiev, and Lalo Schifrin!
  • 10 August 2014. It's not often that the audience is presented with a music-themed movie that actually offers up the music with a co-starring role. But "Competition" with a running time of just over two hours provides a luscious and inspiring role for the piano to shine. In addition, the acting plot and relational undertones evolve in captivating way. The fusion of both creative expression and acting performances maintains audience interest in this extended romantic drama. The editing between piano playing and actor performances are tight and believable. The balance of screen time between the contestants are well weighted and the script and directing are played down to create a fine orchestration between dialogue and musical performances. There is a unstated humane treatment of people along with a nicely depicted element of conflict between competition and relationships.

    Unlike a pure musical historical dramas such as Evita (1996) or The Sound of Music (1965), "Competition" tells its story with both music, dialogue, and acting without lyrics. "Competition" doesn't attempt to relate anything more than the more intimate personal conflict between competitors as the title of the movie implies. Instead, "Competition" plays more like romantic comedy Simply Irresistible (1999) that combines a magical culinary theme with relational overtones or the romantic drama of Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) that combines the gorgeous foreign-theme and coming of age through remodeling construction or The Cooler (2003) with its gambling theme.

    The romantic comedy Music and Lyrics (2007) might come closest to a relational movie that offers up enjoyable, but more contemporary music or Mr. Dreyfuss own starring Oscar and Golden Globe's nominated performance in Mr. Holland's Opus (1995), 15 years later. Competition might even be likened to a precursor to the amazing depiction of art and love in the romantic drama in Oscar-winning The Artist (2011).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "The Competition" did not shortchange viewers on glorious music! The premise of a piano competition taking place in San Francisco was a springboard not only for the beautiful sights of the City by the Bay, but for magnificently performed classical music.

    Two competitors, Richard Dreyfuss's Paul and Amy Irving's Heidi, fall in love in the course of the competition. The screenplay is over-the-top in the excesses of melodrama with the characters on a roller-coaster romance. Paul is the uptight perfectionist, driven to succeed. Heidi is the laid-back Polyanna, who serves to steady the nerves of her Type-A lover. The cast is nicely rounded out with Lee Remick as Heidi's hard-driving mentor and Sam Wanamaker as the stern conductor.

    Given the intensity of the competition and the unfolding love connection, the most memorable part of the film is the Paul's rendition of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto and Irving's stunning performance of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3. The actors were convincing as the pianists, and nothing was spared in the production values.

    This film was made in 1980, and it is difficult to imagine the high-caliber of filmmaking and the commitment made to sustained scenes of music in today's world of brief sound bytes. For this reason, "The Competition" is a film to be savored and treasured. Even the theme song, "People Alone" was a terrific ballad that worked in counterpoint with the classical music.

    Sit back, enjoy, and listen to the music!
  • essiellatumblr30 January 2018
    Warning: Spoilers
    The movie is solely worth watching for the scene at the end where Heidi totally destroys Paul and when he gets pissed off she looks at him and says, "Well, you knew I could play, right?" iconic.
  • The Competition is a well-crafted movie that features some interesting ideas about forbidden romance, but it is highly forgettable in the end. If anything, the movie is a good showcase for Richard Dreyfuss, five years removed from his breakthrough performance in Jaws. The film also features a good deal of music and the piano work is masterful and soothing to the ears. However, this is really not about a piano competition or music. At its core, we get a sweet (and perhaps a bit superficial) love story between two pianists.

    There is a huge international piano competition occurring in San Francisco, where the world's best pianists gather to compete against each other. The first place prize is a $20,000 cash reward and a two-year concert contract. This is Paul's (Richard Dreyfuss) last chance to win the prize. However, newcomer Heidi (Amy Irving) might be the slightly better pianist. The two rivals form an unlikely romance, but is it likely to survive?

    The reason the movie rises above mediocrity is because of its performances. Richard Dreyfuss and Amy Irving have a great rapport with each other. They are charming, and it is obvious their chemistry is strong. Lee Remick gives a strong supporting performance as Heidi's piano coach, Greta. Greta has a belief that Paul is trying to psychologically undermine her student so he can take the grand prize. I also must give credit to the actors for making us believe they play their own pianos. According to the end credits, there are actual pianists playing the music. I don't have a trained eye, so I believed they were playing the music for real.

    The Competition is a warm, genuinely-sweet movie about an offbeat romance between two unlikely lovers. Is it a great movie? Not particularly, but no one can complain about a little syrup in our movies, can we? I would have liked more emphasis on the actual competition, and there is a weird subplot regarding a Russian piano teacher defecting to the United States that doesn't quite fit in. But in the end, this is a showcase for Richard Dreyfuss and Amy Irving to show off their talents and their chemistry.

    My Grade: B
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