The Competition (film)
|Directed by||Joel Oliansky|
|Produced by||William Sackheim|
|Written by||Joel Oliansky
Joel Oliansky & William Sackheim (story)
|Music by||Lalo Schifrin|
|Cinematography||Richard H. Kline|
|Editing by||David Blewitt|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Release date(s)||3 December 1980|
|Running time||125 min.|
Paul Dietrich is an extremely gifted but disillusioned classical pianist, running out of time to prove himself. He logically believes that the time has come to give up performing in piano competitions and accept a salaried position as a music teacher at a school.
Against his better judgment, Paul decides to travel to San Francisco for an international piano competition. It could cost him the job back home in Chicago, where his father is seriously ill, but he wants one last stab at success.
The competition for a financial grant and performing engagements with famed conductor Andrew Erskine pits the intense and arrogant Paul against a select group of talented artists. He advances to the final cut of six, which includes a brash New Yorker named Jerry DiSalvo who knows how to play only one concerto, a sophisticated world traveler named Michael Humphries who likes to rehearse in the nude, a Canadian pianist named Mark Landau who's note-perfect but emotionally moribund, and a meek Russian girl named Tatjana Baronova whose teacher disrupts the contest by seeking political asylum in the United States.
Another contestant is Heidi Joan Schoonover, a wealthy young American who has felt a romantic inclination toward Paul ever since meeting him briefly at a music festival. Heidi is scolded by her esteemed music teacher, Greta Vandemann, not to let personal matters interfere with her concentration. And she is rebuffed rudely by Paul, who also doesn't care to be distracted.
Troubled by his situation, however, Paul goes to Heidi and asks if they can talk. In spite of the disapproving Greta, they go on a date, during which Paul pours out his heart about his family's circumstances. She reassures him. The two end up making love in Paul's hotel room. Just before the competition, she realizes how much winning means to Paul and tries to drop out. Greta angrily tells off Paul, blaming him for hurting Heidi's chances by making her feel guilty for competing against him.
Paul persuades Heidi to return to the competition. It begins and everyone is excellent. But partway through her performance, a string breaks on Heidi's piano and she is forced to stop. Rather than fold under pressure, Heidi angrily demands a new concerto and performs it with magnificence. She is voted the winner, with Paul finishing in second place.
Heidi is happy because she and Paul have agreed to form a partnership, combining their talents and resources no matter which of them wins. But to her surprise, Paul is disturbed by the fact that she gave such an excellent performance, and leaves.
However, at a victory party following the performance, he eventually comes to his senses and returns to be a part of her victory celebration.
- Richard Dreyfuss - Paul Dietrich
- Amy Irving - Heidi Joan Schoonover
- Lee Remick - Greta Vandemann
- Sam Wanamaker - Andrew Erskine
- Joseph Cali - Jerry DiSalvo
- Ty Henderson - Michael Humphries
- Vicki Kriegler - Tatjana Baronova
- Adam Stern - Mark Landau
- Bea Silvern - Madame Gorshev
- Philip Sterling - Mr. Dietrich
- Gloria Stroock - Mrs. Dietrich
- Delia Salvi - Mrs. DiSalvo
- Priscilla Pointer - Mrs. Donellan
- James B. Sikking - Brudenell
- Elaine Welton Hill - Mitzi
- Ben Hammer - Nichols
- Ginastera, Piano Sonata No. 1
Eduardo Delgado, Pianist
- Brahms, Piano Concerto No. 1
Ralph Grierson, Pianist
- Chopin, Piano Concerto in E minor
Lincoln Mayorga, Pianist
- Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major
Daniel Pollack, Pianist
- Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 5
Chester B. Swiatkowski, Pianist
- LOVE THEME - THE COMPETITION
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Lyrics by Wilbur Jennings
Song by Randy Crawford
Awards nomination 
1981 Academy Awards 
- Nominated: Best Film Editing - David E. Blewitt
- Nominated: Best Music, Original Song: "People Alone"
(Music by Lalo Schifrin, Lyrics by Will Jennings)
1981 Golden Globe Awards 
- Nominated, Best Original Score - Motion Picture - Lalo Schifrin
1st Golden Raspberry Award 
- Variety film review; December 3, 1980, page 24.