Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday Viewing: The Star, 1952

With 1950’s release of All About Eve, it seemed that Bette Davis’ star was rising once again. However, 1950 also marked the beginning of her tumultuous relationship with the simian Gary Merrill and a series of rather curious films which weren’t necessarily the best choices for her career.

By 1952, Davis’ renaissance was all but dimmed. She accepted the lead role in a film about a fading film star whose financial and personal difficulties made a “return” to films all the more difficult. To say that this tale of a former Oscar winner’s woes mirrored Davis’ own life is not entirely accurate, but it’s not too far off either.

It’s not the greatest of Davis’ films by any means, but The Star has a lot to offer. Davis’ performance is raw and angry and she seems to have been able to bring her own pain to the surface. She’s joined by the wooden Sterling Hayden as her love interest. Though rugged and attractively weathered, Hayden isn’t a good match of Davis and their attraction seems forced. But, it’s easy to not pay attention to him since Davis dominates the film.

In a small supporting role, Natalie Wood plays Davis’ whiney daughter in much the same way she played every part. She’s Natalie Wood, and that’s the best one can say of her.

However, for fans of Davis’ career, this is an interesting film and quite enjoyable. The scene in which a drunken Davis takes her Oscar for a swerving car ride is well worth the cost of the DVD.

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