The Competition

 (411)2 h 5 min1980PG
While competing against each other in a music contest, two pianists (Richard Dreyfuss, Amy Irving) fall in love and must battle to stay together in case either of them wins. Oscar-nominated for Best Song and Best Film Editing.
Joel Oliansky
Richard DreyfussAmy IrvingLee Remick
DramaRomanceArts, Entertainment, and Culture
English [CC]
Audio languages

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Supporting actors
Sam Wanamaker
William Sackheim
Sony Pictures
PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
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4.5 out of 5 stars

411 global ratings

  1. 73% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 14% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 6% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

George GoldbergReviewed in the United States on May 18, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Yes, that's the way it is
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Five stars for sure: excellent acting, world-class music, realistic script. Many years ago, in fact many years before this movie was made, I was a music student at Yale. I was not at competition level on the piano, but I helped classmates who were at that level prepare for competitions and concerts, and everything in this movie rang true – including the appalling nature of these competitions. That is, of the finalists in such a competition, they’re all good, even great, and yet some win and some lose, and that’s after, say, fifteen years of practicing for hours every day and dreaming every day about winning. The entire project is designed to break the hearts of most of the competitors, and their parents, and their friends, and their teachers – especially their teachers, for when their student fails, they fail. It’s a tough business, and this movie portrays that well.
18 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on June 6, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
So glad to see this again!
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I absolutely loved this movie when it first came out, even though the critics panned it as one of the worst movies ever made. I'm not exaggerating; those were the reviews! The critics found the plot thoroughly unrealistic, with which, as a musician, I disagreed then and disagree now. I think it captures the atmosphere of these competitions absolutely correctly. I think I like it even better now than I did when it first came out, perhaps only because I'm much older and kind of nostalgic for the way things were then. Amy Irving is fantastic, she just lights up the screen. It totally captures the zeitgeist, complete with cool cars, nascent feminism and defecting Russians. First class light entertainment. I'm delighted to see it again and will probably watch it several more times. Thanks for rescuing an undiscovered classic, Amazon.
9 people found this helpful
MeemeReviewed in the United States on July 23, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Enjoyed The Music
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This was pretty good actually. I didn't like the ending. It put me off for some reason. Richard Dreyfus is a good actor and handled his character very well. He's a down and out guy who has very little to no support from his struggling family in pursuit of his music genius on the piano. He has entered several competitions and is a serious contender. But he has missed the money reward and scholarships in past competitions, and he REALLY needs a break in order to go to the conservatory. If he can do that, he'll pull himself up and out of the poverty his parents have had to endure. He has talent, but does he have enough?

There are some amazing piano players he's up against but he's a formidable competitor and they all know it; none more so than Amy Irving, a brilliant young pianist who comes from a well-to-do family and whose mother (the beautiful, but in this movie, unlikable, Lee Remick) and grandparents were major pianists. The over-bearing mother won't have her be anything BUT a pianist and she has no choice. This pushes Amy further and further away from the piano and the competition. She falls in love with Richard and is rooting for him to win. She wants him to win more than her mother wants her to win. And so goes the movie. The struggle of Richard against a father who wants him to stop "playing around" when he should be out at some two-bit job helping with family finances pitted against a girl who wants to do anything BUT play the piano professionally who is fighting against her domineering mother is the core and heartache of this movie. In the end, Richard, after realizing that Amy may be better than him in the competition, has to deal with that just before going on stage to deliver his composition. I loved the movie but was bummed at the end. Amy Irving is lovely as always, but her acting is wooden and one dimensional. Every movie I've seen her in, I enjoy, but it's just watching Amy with different set designs and wardrobes. Nothing about her ever changes. Even her expression seems to show little emotion. The movie pretty much has to fit HER, rather than her using acting skills to fit the movie. She fits this movie okay---but just okay. She doesn't have the moody or sometimes fiery or colorful personality you expect from musicians. She's pretty flat, borderline boring, in that regard, even when playing her piano pieces dramatically; she just isn't capable of carrying off the intensity to the degree needed and it leaves me unfulfilled. Richard was so great I kept this at 5 stars. I was tempted to knock it down to a 4, maybe even 3, because of Amy, but the story is so good, I want others to watch it.
grizkenReviewed in the United States on May 16, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
A perennial favorite of mine, and many others!
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I first saw this film in its theatrical debut in December 1980 upon its release. I've never been able to shake it off as far as my long-term interest. I should confess that being an amateur pianist and a great lover of piano concerti helped out. New to film at that time was the actual filming of lifelike hand movements on the piano keys themselves. Usually, so-called pianist/keyboard films shot at film angles avoided the hands, so pianist-roles didn't have to look bad with improper hand movements on those keys; and in these piano concerti the supposed cast of pianist stars (none of whom played piano professionally, except one of the minor characters) really *looked* and ***played*** haha, the part! Amy Irving and Richard Dreyfuss had not hit their respective acting pinnacles. However they gave at least entertaining if not dated performances. A big 74% of our Amazon audience rated this flick 5 full stars. Give it a whirl folks!
2 people found this helpful
HGN2001Reviewed in the United States on July 15, 2012
5.0 out of 5 stars
Finally, a decent copy of THE COMPETITION!
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This is one of those long-time-in-coming-to-DVD titles. The last time it was issued at all was late in the VHS days, never transferred to even LaserDisc. I'd been reduced to utilizing a VHS tape whenever I wanted to see this film. And it's a film that plays well with multiple repeats due to all of the music.

I jumped at the chance to order this, even though the description indicated a 4x3 1.33:1 transfer. I was hoping for a good-enough transfer, something better than VHS. What I got was FAR BETTER THAN EXPECTED. Amazon's specs are wrong - this film was remastered, and is in full widescreen 1.85:1, enhanced for 16x9 screens. To be sure, this is an MOD title, meaning you get a DVD-R of it once you place an order. But fear not, it plays fine, looks great, and finally presents this movie in a decent format for home video.

There are no menus - the film just starts up when you place it in your player. There are chapter stops scattered throughout the length of the film. Most seemed reasonably logical as far as placement goes.

For those who've waited forever, grab this. For new viewers, give this excellent film a chance.
47 people found this helpful
David KeenerReviewed in the United States on January 12, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Holds Up Well
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I've always liked this movie. I remember how it blew me away when I first saw it in the theater. And on re-watching it, I think the movie still holds up well. Oh, yes, it's an older film...the cars look weird and so do some of the hair styles. But the leads are engaging, the plot has its fair share of surprises, and the piano playing is done well (for a movie - the director insisted that the actors learn how to really play...though obviously not at professional levels). Highly recommended.
8 people found this helpful
Will of the WispReviewed in the United States on September 4, 2014
4.0 out of 5 stars
Actually a pretty good show although Richard Dreyfuss tends to chew up ...
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Actually a pretty good show although Richard Dreyfuss tends to chew up the scenery. The movie came out during a window of time in which he was one of the hotter actors in movies---"Jaws," "Close Encounters" and his Oscar winning turn in "The Good-bye Girl." Amy Irving is his fellow piano nerd and love interest. Dreyfuss tends to over power her in acting skill and ability and it shows. The rest of the cast does a decent job, particularly Lee Remick as Amy's mentor.

In sports competitions it's easy to figure out the winner---they scored more points, they knocked the other guy out, they got to the finish line first. But how to you determine a winner in a performing arts competition? Should performing artists even be subjected to such competition? Those are a couple of the questions the movie poses and never answers probably because there isn't any answer.
5 people found this helpful
S.L.SReviewed in the United States on February 28, 2009
5.0 out of 5 stars
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The reviews for this movie go back to 1999.If
this isn't evidence enough that people would
buy this movie if it came out on dvd then I don't know what is.
Like all of you I have been waiting for it
to come out on dvd.Luckily I transferred my
entire vhs tape collection onto blank dvd's so they
wouldn't deteriorate any further than they
already had.
If you want this movie put on dvd then click on
yes if you liked this review.
Well FINALLY this is out on dvd.Well not completely.It is only a
vhs tape transferred onto a dvd.Since it is a better copy than mine,I'm
not too disappointed.However since this movie is all about music it would
have been nice if it had been in 5.1 sound.It's just stereo.I am really happy
that it is in full screen, I happen to prefer it that way.All vhs copies are full
screen and have no menu because a vhs tape has no menu.
I guess one can't have everything.
246 people found this helpful
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