Added on Dec 5, 2010 in Movies
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Cast: Mariel Hemingway, Robert Picardo, Eric Roberts, David W. Rose, Carroll Baker, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Sheila Anderson, Bobby Bass, Hagan Beggs, Sam Behrens and others
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Star 80  Bob Fosse (Size: 1.91 GB)
Star 80 (1983)
THIS FILM IS ONLY AVAILABLE IN FULL SCREEN FORMAT
Star 80 is director Bob (Cabaret) FosseΓΓé¼Γäós compelling and disturbing recreation of the murder of Playboy Centerfold of the Year Dorothy Stratten (Mariel Hemmingway) by her abusive husband Paul Snider (Eric Roberts). I say recreation and not biopic because Fosse doesnΓΓé¼Γäót dwell on any of the usual trappings of the biopic genre. He merely presents the coupleΓΓé¼Γäós rollercoaster relationship as if it were a documentary. (In fact, several characters are interviewed and speak directly at the camera.)
Mariel Hemingway ... Dorothy Stratten
Eric Roberts ... Paul Snider
Cliff Robertson ... Hugh Hefner
Carroll Baker ... Dorothy's Mother
Roger Rees ... Aram Nicholas
David Clennon ... Geb
Josh Mostel ... Private Detective
Lisa Gordon ... Eileen
Sidney Miller ... Nightclub Owner
Keith Hefner ... Photographer
Tina Willson ... Bobo Weller
Shelly Ingram ... Betty
Sheila Anderson ... Exotic Dancer
Cis Rundle ... Meg Davis
Kathryn Witt ... Robin
The former pimp Snider finds Dorothy working at a Dairy Queen and sees her as his meal ticket. After a whirlwind courtship, he weasels his way into getting her a chance to appear in Playboy. Dorothy finds fame rather quickly and parlays her photo spread into a minor acting career. At all times, the jealous and manipulative Paul is breathing down her neck, not allowing her to enjoy any of it. Because Dorothy feels a morbid loyalty towards to him, she never gets too mad when he yells at her, freaks out, or builds S & M fuck tables in his garage. By the time Dorothy has the nerve to ask for a divorce; Paul is totally bonkers and blows her away with a shotgun before turning the gun on himself.
This is one genuinely creepy and disturbing movie. Fosse spends more screen time on Paul than Dorothy. Eric Roberts gives a completely gonzo performance, you get to see his mental disintegration in full detail. The film is told in flashback, starting with the murder, then working backwards. This means Roberts has a lot of scenes where heΓΓé¼Γäós naked, covered in blood, and recites his dialogue to a corpse.
Star 80 gives us an uncompromising look into the mind of a deranged obsessive and it does so with such fearless energy that it makes you riveted to your seat. It also acts as a cautionary tale for all those babes in the woods types who get mixed up with degenerates like Snider. Fair warning ladies, a pimp by any other name would act just as sleazy.
Star 80 is not a movie for everybody. If you want to see a bubble-headed bimbo bounce around the Playboy mansion, watch The Girls Next Door. If you want to see a movie about obsession and depraved madness that pulls absolutely zero punches, check out Star 80 instead.
The basic irony of the film is the fact that Paul wanted to use Dorothy as the gateway into a life of power and luxury, it wasn't personal affection that drew him to her, it was her potential to be a star, however, in the end it's Dorothy who uses what Paul has, his connections and drive, to put her on the path to stardom. Rather than him using and discarding her, it's she who uses everything he has to offer and then moves on. Paul is all about being in control, and once Dorothy doesn't need him anymore, he finds himself completely without purpose in life. In the past, he was able to work hard because he believed that if he just kept pushing ahead, eventually he'd find success. However, as he tells Dorothy at the end of the film, he's not going to become a big director, any dream that he had is over.
So, the film is about the fallacy of the American dream, and both main characters tie into this. A central tenet of American philosophy is based around the protestant work ethic, the idea that if you keep working, you'll be rewarded. However, Paul's experience shows us someone who works as hard as he can and winds up nowhere. The most depressing scene for him is the "well hung" men show, where he goes to all this effort, seems to be very successful and winds up with little money. So, even the means he used to use to support himself aren't enough, he's become completely dependent on Dorothy.
The basic myth that both America and Hollywood propagate is the idea that if you work hard enough you can end up rich and famous. That's why in the 50s, the studios presented these stories of people being discovered at drug stores and soda shops. It's to humanize the stars and build up the myth of the movies, if you believe that you too could be up there one day, you'll continue to believe in the illusion they're selling.
So, Dorothy does achieve the dream of becoming a famous movie star. This is what she comments on in the movie's final line, saying the excitement she receives from being asked to give her autograph. In all these sound clips, she's saying what she's supposed to, the line that is designed to forward the agenda of Playboy or the studios. So, here she's bringing herself down to Earth, saying that being recognized by fans isn't just a thrill for them, it's a thrill for her. A number of times in the film she talks about how Playboy is looking for wholesome, "naive" girl next door types. The use of the world naive is likely not something the publicists would have wanted, because while it has no innate negative characteristics, it implies that the girls posing in the magazine are being used by people who are more aware of the world than they are. For the viewer, use of the word naive has a menacing connotation because it reinforces the idea that Dorothy has no control, that she gets used by various people and it's her naivete that will eventually lead to her death.
The fictionalized director Aram Nicholas is based on Stratten's real-life lover, Peter Bogdanovich. Hugh Hefner sued the producers of the film because he did not like the way he was portrayed, perhaps in part because the article the film was based on suggested that Stratten was as much a victim of Hefner and Bogdanovich as she was of Snider. Hefner also later sued Bogdanovich for the negative portrayals in Bogdanovich's book about Stratten, The Killing of the Unicorn. In a 1998 interview, Hefner stated that he still disliked the film because it was a poor portrayal of Dorothy Stratten, although he did commend Eric Roberts for "an excellent portrayal of the sick husband who murdered her."
Hemingway underwent breast enlargement surgery before filming began, but she has denied that she had the surgery for the film role. She would later have them removed after they ruptured.
Star 80 was the second movie based on the murder of Stratten. It was preceded by the 1981 television film Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story in which Jamie Lee Curtis portrayed Stratten and Bruce Weitz portrayed Paul Snider.
Roberts earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Dramatic Actor for his performance in the film. Star 80 was the last film Fosse directed.