Rocky: It isn't a contest. It's a show.
When Gloria and Robert find out from Rocky, the MC, that there won't be any prize money when the dance marathon is over they decide to walk out. While on the pier, Gloria, who is so burnt out on life, takes a pistol from her purse to kill herself. She can't bring herself to do it though so she asks Robert to shoot her which he does. When the police come to take Robert away they asked hi why he shot her. He replies "they shoot horses don't they"; this refers to the film's title as a metaphor. As a young boy Robert saw a crippled horse shot dead to put the horse out of its misery.
Trivia: The film currently holds the record for being nominated for the most Academy Awards (nine) without a nomination for Best Picture.
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