Movies »Star 80

In 1980 Playboy model Dorothy Stratten was brutally murdered by her husband who then shot himself. It is the kind of tragic and salacious story that has spawned recreations in the true crime television genre of today, but surprisingly, it was Bob Fosse, fresh off his fame of All That Jazz that originally took up the story for a feature film called Star 80.

I'd seen the Muriel Hemingway VHS cover in video stores for years but, perhaps like you, had never heard so much about the film itself and wondered if that boded poorly for it. While it is not a pleasant movie, it's actually quite an ugly little story, I have to say i was surprised that it was such a good one.

A few dated directing techniques get in the way, but the very unglamorized story is well told and two phenomenal performances that really make the film worth watching. Hemingway is excellent as a very naive and sweet girl who is taken advantage by an insane man.

I don't know what it was that got Eric Roberts so off the fast track to stardom he was on (I'm going to guess drugs?) but it certainly wasn't a lack of talent that derailed him. Here he is complex, brutal, weak, scary, and pathetic all at once. It's a terrifying and realistic portrayal that even Hugh Hefner, friend of Dorothy's who was adamantly against the fictionalizing of her story praised the performance.

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Posted on July 27, 2009

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