''The Turning Point'' revitalized the fad for {{ballet}} and dance films. Released in 1977, the same year as ''Film/AnnieHall'' and ''StarWars'', it also inaugurated Mikhail Baryshnikov's pop culture career as a film star. The film's ballet credentials are impeccable: it was directed by former dancer and choreographer Herbert Ross; was produced by Ross' wife, legendary ballerina Nora Kaye; and featured several established or up-and-coming ballet stars in the cast.

The plot covers two generations of dancers. In the older generation, a touring stop by the ballet company reignites the rivalry between Emma (Creator/AnneBancroft) and [=DeeDee=] (Creator/ShirleyMacLaine). [=DeeDee's=] career ended shortly after she became pregnant and married another dancer, Wayne (Tom Skerrit). Emma, however, became a star in then up-and-coming choreographer Michael's adaptation of ''Literature/AnnaKarenina'', a part that [=DeeDee=] had also wanted. In the younger generation, [=DeeDee's=] daughter Emilia (Leslie Browne) receives a fellowship for a special program at the company ballet school, where she catches the eye of philandering star Yuri (Baryshnikov).

Nominated for 11 [[UsefulNotes/AcademyAward Academy Awards]], but lost all of them, setting a record since tied by ''Literature/TheColorPurple''. Now often accused of being SoapOpera ''en pointe''.

!!This film contains examples of:

* AgonyOfTheFeet: Emma grumbles about what ballet does to dancers' feet. Later, we see Emilia nearly sobbing in pain just from [=DeeDee=] trying to bandage her battered toes.
* AllThereInTheManual: Screenwriter Arthur Laurents' novelization includes considerable WordOfGay, making it clear that Wayne is a gay man who married to save face, and that Michael, despite being Emma's former lover, is now partnered with the company's male ballet master.
* {{Ballet}}
* BrutalHonesty: When Emma abandons her role in Arnold's ballet, she turns to Michael for sympathy. His idea of sympathy is telling her that she will no longer dance the title role in ''Giselle'', then hinting strongly that it's time for her to quit.
* TheCameo: Notably, famed ballerinas Antoinette Sibley and Alexandra Danilova. A number of then-current ABT performers and backstage personnel also make brief appearances, including Alexander Minz (best known as Drosselmeier in Baryshnikov's ''Theatre/TheNutcracker'') and Enrique Martinez.
* CampGay: Arnold.
* CampStraight: Freddie.
* ColorCodedForYourConvenience: A glaring example during Emilia's audition, when all the other dancers are wearing various shades of dark colors, but Emilia is outfitted in white.
* DrowningMySorrows: A miserable Emilia gets drunk. Then, she somehow has to perform with the other members of the corps. This goes very badly.
* EnforcedMethodActing: In-universe, Arnold belatedly explains to Emilia that his bad behavior to her was all part of getting her to stop emoting.
* FamilyVersusCareer: [=DeeDee=] stops performing after her first child; Emma achieves stardom, but has no family.
* GloryDays: One of the film's major themes.
** Emma is at the very end of her career, and is being pushed out in favor of younger dancers.
** [=DeeDee=] is still obsessed with what she gave up.
** Michael no longer choreographs.
** Freddie is suffering the same fate as Emma.
* HardWorkHardlyWorks: Averted. The film makes clear that even the most talented dancers need to spend hours in class, and [=DeeDee=] warns her son that he needs to focus his attention either on baseball or on ballet.
** The novelization suggests that Wayne, while potentially brilliant, just isn't ambitious or interested enough to put in the real effort a ballet career requires.
* ICouldaBeenAContender: [=DeeDee=] is still obsessed with ''Literature/AnnaKarenina,'' and finally asks Michael if he ''would'' have given her the leading role instead of Emma. [[spoiler: He doesn't remember.]]
* InformedAbility: Anne Bancroft is carefully blocked to make it appear that she knows how to dance, but does very little in the way of movement.
* TheIngenue: Emilia.
* MaybeEverAfter: [[spoiler: Emilia and Yuri]].
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: Michael is based on Jerome Robbins.
** Adelaide is ABT co-founder Lucia Chase.
* PrimaDonnaDirector: Arnold.
* ReallyGetsAround: Yuri.
* RomanAClef: [=DeeDee=]'s and Emma's rivalry owes a lot to Nora Kaye and Isabel Brown, while Emma's failed love affair with Michael was inspired by the collapse of Kaye's engagement to Jerome Robbins.
* TechnicianVersusPerformer: For Emma, a dancer in her forties, even a double pirouette is a potential nightmare; she succeeds on the strength of her acting. As a result, she can't handle an abstract modern ballet, which demands much stronger technique.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: Gelsey Kirkland, these days mentioned in almost the same breath as Pavlova and Fonteyn, was originally cast as Emilia.
* WhiteDwarfStarlet: [=DeeDee=].
* YourCheatingHeart: Everybody, pretty much:
** Emma is the other woman in a longtime affair.
** [=DeeDee=] has a brief fling with the company's old music director.
** Emilia catches Yuri in the act of seducing another dancer.