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William A. Wellman
Middle-aged Oscar winning actress Margaret Elliot - Maggie to those that know her - is a Hollywood has-been. Her life is in shambles. She clings to the hope of resurrecting her past movie stardom as a leading ingénue. No one will hire her, she's penniless with creditors selling off anything that she owns that is of monetary value, and she has no one to turn to that can see her through financially. She has in the past supported her sister and brother-in-law, who still want to use her as their meal ticket. Divorced from her actor husband, she shares joint custody of their teen-aged daughter Gretchen, from who Maggie tries to hide her problems. When it looks as if Maggie has hit rock bottom, Jim Johannsen re-enters her life. Jim, who once had the stage name Barry Lester, got his big break in Hollywood movies by Maggie. He came to the quick realization that he was neither good as an actor or that he wanted to do it as a profession. He now works as a boat parts supplier and mechanic. Jim ... Written by
During "The Star," Bette Davis commands the lead as Margaret Elliott, a Hollywood, Oscar-winning has been. The show is about handsome Jim Johannson (Sterling Hayden), a boat mechanic & fan of Elliott's, teaching her that there's more to life than being an actor. The adorable adolescent, Natalie Wood, plays Gretchen, Elliot's beloved daughter.
Elliot can't deal with the mid-life transition off the set & into retirement. She's so resentful she becomes a drunkard. During a classic scene, Davis uses one of her own Oscars, propped on the dashboard of Elliot's car & heads for the posh homes of the stars in Beverly Hills saying, "Come on, Oscar, let's you & me go get drunk!" Davis' portrayal of a fallen actor makes her seem older than she actually was. Of all the characters Davis embodied, I think she got Margaret Elliot spot-on! After she gives a faux sight-seeing tour of the stars' mansions to no one while drunk & driving, she lands in jail. That's when Jim bails her out, then takes her to his home on the ocean docks. The rest of the story is worth knowing.
Interestingly, this 1952 performance earned Davis her 9th Oscar nomination at 44yo. She was anything but washed up like the character she played, with 43 years of acting in movies & many more nominations & awards left to go. Davis was less than half-way into her acting career!
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