Saturday, October 02, 2010

Bette Davis Month Bonus: The Star (1952)

My monthlong series of posts about Bette Davis movies may have ended, but I'm still recording every Davis film that I haven't seen that airs on TCM and writing about it. And I'm still finding some duds, although I was kind of eager to see The Star since it was Davis' only Oscar-nominated performance that I hadn't already seen. The Star came right on the heels of Davis' magnificent, Oscar-nominated comeback in All About Eve, and maybe the Academy was just excited to see her playing another aging actress, this time a movie star rather than a stage legend. But The Star pales in comparison to All About Eve, not to mention plenty of other Davis movies. It's an awkward combination of romance, melodrama and showbiz satire, and it doesn't really succeed at any of them.

Davis' Margaret Elliott is broke and unable to find work, and the first part of the movie depicts her overwrought downward spiral, culminating in a DUI arrest. It's more than a bit overdone, and not amusing enough to be campy, but it's more entertaining than the next part, which finds Margaret seeking redemption with a simple shipbuilder played by Sterling Hayden. Hayden and Davis have no chemistry, and Hayden, who was known for playing thugs, looks uncomfortable and awkward the entire time. The movie can't seem to decide whether Margaret deserves redemption and a return to Hollywood or should be punished for her vanity and made to become a housewife to this boring square-jawed guy.

In the end, Margaret acts in rather illogical ways to twice sabotage her potential movie comeback (including in a scene in which a screenwriter essentially pitches her the movie she's currently appearing in), but instead of rock-bottom despair, the movie closes with an abrupt happy ending that finds Margaret reuniting with the boring shipbuilder, and bringing her annoying preteen daughter (played by Natalie Wood) along with her. In between, Davis gets a few chances to be gloriously bitchy, but for a character who's supposed to have such a monstrous ego, Margaret is more whiny and insecure than haughty. It's entertaining to see Davis play with her image, but The Star really fails to live up to the potential of its premise.

1 comment:

Personal Trainer Singapore said...

hi there, you have a wonderful blog. thanks for sharing your life and experience here. hope you never give up doing that.