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The Star
The Star
Actors: Bette Davis, Sterling Hayden, Natalie Wood, Warner Anderson, Minor Watson
Director: Stuart Heisler
Genres: Drama, Sports
NR     2005     1hr 29min

As Margaret, Bette Davis got yet another good picture and earned her ninth Academy Award nomination. Davis?s confident, perceptive performance lends absolute authenticy, as did a prop she provided. An Oscar stautette set n...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Bette Davis, Sterling Hayden, Natalie Wood, Warner Anderson, Minor Watson
Director: Stuart Heisler
Creators: Ernest Laszlo, Bert E. Friedlob, Dale Eunson, Katherine Albert
Genres: Drama, Sports
Sub-Genres: Classics, Hockey
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Black and White - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/14/2005
Original Release Date: 12/11/1952
Theatrical Release Date: 12/11/1952
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 29min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

" GET me that part in "The Fatal Winter!"
Oliver Penn | 04/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'm shocked that so many reviewers here were disappointed in Bette Davis' appearance, wardrobe, lighting and make up in this film. People, she was playing a dead broke has been. She looked perfect for this role as Margaret Elliot, the once glamorous Oscar-winning star of the movies. Had she looked like the stylish Margo Channing of "All About Eve", her "Margaret Elliot" wouldn't have been as convincing.Okay, the script wasn't perfect, but Davis approached this material like a true professional and gave the role everything she had, which was plenty. Davis never really cared about the way she looked and accepted the fact that she was no Garbo or Jean Harlow. She had played unglamorous parts many times before. Miss Davis was a true actress, an artist.The picture is "dark", yes, but if it had been anything else, it would have ruined this film. The atmosphere created by the director was appropriate for the situation. Margaret was in trouble. She was scared to death and was desperate to get "back where I belong." She felt that "one good part" was all she needed. After throwing her sister and brother-in-law out of her modest apartment in a screaming rage, Margaret grabs her Oscar, buys a cheap bottle of hooch and takes a drunken ride through the streets of Beverly Hills, stopping briefly by her old mansion where she sorrowfully breaks down in tears.Davis looked like hell the morning after being bailed from jail by a former co-star (Sterling Hayden), who was miscast all over the place. She arrived home to find out that her key didn't fit anymore. She had been locked out for non-payment of rent. Defeated, now homeless, she tells Sterling Hayden, after he asks "where to?", "isn't this the end of the line?"The papers are full of the scandal the next morning prompting Margaret to take advantage of the "publicity" as she storms into her agent's office and demands that he get her the role she's wanted to play for years in a script called "The Fatal Winter". "But, what about the papers?" the agent asks. She retorts, "Joe Morrison is MAD about publicity!" She is shocked when Morrison (the producer) wants her to play, not the lead, but the lead's older sister, Sara. Margaret is a STAR! So, she plots to get the lead by altering her screen test and playing Sara like a young siren so as to convince Morrison that he's made a mistake. The test is awful as played, but Davis, the actress was brilliant.In this role, Bette Davis does everything but hit the ceiling! She pops her eyes, bites her consonents, screams, yells, gets drunk, fights with the police, gets thrown in jail, has the screaming meanies, tells off a couple of old ladies, slaps faces and smokes cartons of cigarettes. Now, that's acting!When the Oscar nominations came out, Bette Davis was among the five nominees for "best actress" of 1952. Strange because Joan Crawford had been offered "The Star" and she turned it down flat. Davis had been offered "Sudden Fear" which she promptly refused. Bette had also been offered "Come Back, Little Sheba" but didn't feel the part was right for her, leaving Shirley Booth to repeat her stage success on screen. So, Bette accepted "The Star" and Joan grabbed "Sudden Fear". All three got nominated for the Academy Award! Booth won.In 1952, Bette Davis' career was on the skids. She, like Margaret Elliot, needed a juicy part to put her back on top. This role didn't do it, but it kept her working throughout the '50s with varying degrees of success. My favorite, besides "The Star" was "The Catered Affair" (1956).Despite the criticism I've read here of the film, I enjoyed it and it is an important part of my film collection. Bravo Bette!"
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 12/18/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Bette Davis plays a washed up Hollywood movie queen with abandon, and her terrific performance earned her a ninth Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. In the role of Margaret Elliot, Bette infuses it with all the angst and self-doubt that a true has been might undergo.Margaret Elliot, dead broke, down and out, can't get a role in tinseltown. Drowning her sorrows in alcohol and self pity, Margaret is in serious denial about herself. As she spirals downward, both personally and professionally, a handsome man (Sterling Hayden), whom she had given a break to many years before, comes to her rescue.When her agent manages to get Margaret a test for the part of an older woman, and it looks like she may have a serious shot at it, Margaret, preferring to play the role of the ingenue, lets her ego take over, and she flubs the test. When she realizes what she has done, her world comes crashing down on her, and self realization sets in. She comes to a crossroad in her life. What decision she comes to remains for the viewer to discover.This is a nineteen fifties style melodrama, stark and grim. Bette has no qualms about appearing as a woman who is aging, as she appears with bags and circles under her eyes and has a somewhat jowly and bitter look. The wardrobe is mostly drab, and the sets are pedestrian. This all works to effect, as these accouterments are symbolic of Margaret Elliot's new reality. Sterling Hayden gives a credible performance as Mr. Nice Guy, though there is a scene in which a moment of politically incorrect domestic violence is interjected. A teenage Natalie Wood appears in the role of Margaret's daughter and is perfectly adorable in the role. This is a film that Bette Davis fans are sure to enjoy."
Fame and fortune are not the most important things in life..
Joan Crawford | Lansing, MI USA | 07/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I think the reason this film is disliked by so many people is the message which, although true, is not something you can really tell to someone obsessed with the American Dream without expecting some kind of resentment!

The story is about a has-been movie star, Margaret Elliott (Bette Davis) who is kind of like to equivalent of Sharon Stone or Demi Moore today. She's only in her 40s, but her career is kind of dead and no one wants to cast her in a movie. She can't understand why, because she used to be such a big star, and now she doesn't know what to do now that her career is going downhill. After much depression and reliance on alcohol, which leads her into drunk driving and a stay in jail, an old friend (Sterling Hayden) bails her out and tries to help her get her life back on track. Since the movie career option is essentially out, he helps her get a job at a department store, but she has too much pride for that kind of work, and ends up a sobbing mess all over again. So Sterling encourages her wishes to go back to acting, after being offered a supporting role in a major picture, but again Margaret Elliot wants to be the star, not the supporting player, and fails to make the screen comeback she wanted.

It has been said that THE STAR was based on Joan Crawford, but I don't see many similarities. For one thing, Joan Crawford's career was one of the most durable Hollywood ever produced. Joan actually received an Oscar nomination for SUDDEN FEAR the same year THE STAR garnered Davis a nomination. Of the two, Davis was the bigger has-been in 1952, after a string of flops which included ANOTHER MAN'S POISON and this film, not successful at the box office.

I think this is the point where I should say THE STAR is a great film. The theme of the film is that careers are important, but they aren't as important as the relationships we have with other people, such as our family and other loved ones. Some people think this is a sexist slant for the movie, but it's a message equally true for men and women who obsess too much about getting rich and famous instead of just enjoying their lives and being with the people they care about. Again, not a message that's going to be popular with the Bill Gates and Trump crowd--among other extremely ambitious people, but a true message nonetheless.

It didn't matter that Margaret Elliott was no longer a star. Being a star is meaningless anyway. That was the message."
Sad but true!
Joan Crawford | 01/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I feel exactly the way one of the reviewers felt: shocked by the story and by the behind-the-scenes tragedies. Bette Davis was a phenomena who said truthfully several times that she "never looked the same" in any of her pictures. As Maxine Elliot, she's dynamic, almost outdoing her bravura role as Rosa Moline in Beyond the Forest. She's at her greatest when she tells off her parasitic relatives who drop her cheesy apartment for their monthly check. In several bios about Bette, though, she actually had to beg to get this role. Unlike her foe, Joan Crawford, Bette didn't age well. Her monstrous ego and temperament also damaged her reputation. A big mystery is exactly WHY she left Warner Brothers. She claims it was the roles offered to her. She never admitted that Warners had actually given her her own producing unit to make any movies she wanted to. She made one, "A Stolen Life" and then closed up shop. Yet, she bitched ever after that she had to leave Warners to make the movies she wanted (like Bunny O'Hare?)Bette should have a half dozen Oscars: for Dark Victory, Now, Voyager, In this our Life, Beyond the Forest, All ABout Eve, etc. Her type of phenomenal talent is gone forever. We're stuck with anorexic Gwynth Paltrow or grinning Julia Roberts/"