Wednesday, February 25, 2009
To Be Twenty
Star 8O ('83) is Bob Fosse's extraordinary film about the events leading up to the death of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten. She was the June, 1980, centerfold.
Dorothy was murdered by her husband/manager Paul Snider.
Her turn-ons, turn-offs, favorite musicians, and secret dreams are to be found on her "Playmate Data Sheet" (below), which, as is customary for Playboy, accompanied her June spread.
While working on the film They All Laughed ('81), with Audrey Hepburn and Ben Gazzara, and the late John Ritter...
...Stratten began a relationship with Peter Bogdanovich, the film's director.
Snider, already estranged from Stratten, exploded with rage when he confronted her with his knowledge of the relationship, raped her, blew her head off, then blew his own head off.
Mariel Hemingway, sister of the late Margaux 'Lipstick' Hemingway, plays Dorothy with just the right amount of innocence and emerging maturity, even though she isn't near as stunning as Stratten was.
Eric Roberts is simply amazing as Paul Snider, the psychotic, pimp-like charmer who saw Dorothy as his meal ticket to fame.
A role in the underrated Runaway Train quickly followed for him.
Galaxina ('80), from the director of The Incredible Melting Man ('77), was Dorothy's fourth feature film. It is not covered in Star 8O.
Star 8O focuses mostly on the shooting of Stratten's first starring feature, the '71 Autumn Born (called Wednesday's Child in the film), a below average, almost inept thriller.
Bogdanovich's character, known as Aram Nicholas in the film, and played with awkward reserve by Roger Rees, is directing Straten in an unidentified film in New York (actually They All Laughed), necessitating her being away from Snider while he remains in LA to spend her money, bang starlets, and grow his paranoia.
Interestingly, Snider does come across as a fairly switched-on guy in some respects, possessing the ability to remember the names of people he hasn't met in years and being able to immediately intuit whether someone likes him or not.
Cliff Robertson, who is a terrific as Hugh Heffner, sums Snider up with this: "He's got the personality of a pimp!"
The film, one of many great films produced by the The Ladd Company (Body Heat and The Right Stuff are others), did not do well commercially.
Perhaps it was just too dark and honest.
Generally, honesty doesn't go down well in any quarter, let alone Hollywood.
Certainly one of the most searing indictments of the film industry ever made, and an uncompromising depiction of the exploitation of the young.
Dorothy Stratten was only 20 when she died.
In '86, Peter Bogdanovich tied the knot with Dorothy Stratten's kid sister Louise.
She was also 20.