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Bette's masterpiece
pachl20 August 2006
In THE ROSE, Bette Midler plays a character based on the life of Janis Joplin. This one of those rare movies where everything works perfectly. Although she is amazingly talented, I sometimes wonder if Bette herself ever looks back on this movie and wonders how she managed such an amazing portrayal, in the same way that an Olympic skater reviews the footage of a 10.0 performance and is stunned that every blade stroke really is picture perfect.

While the storyline is memorable, and the acting superb, music outshines everything else. This is a movie from 1979, a time when rock and roll was still considered a lifestyle, and big rock bands were treated with absolute god-like adoration. Music mattered. It was a vital part of peoples' lives, and in THE ROSE it reaches the heights of excellence that normally exist only in memories that have improved with age. In this case, the music sounds as vibrant, exciting, and fresh today as when the movie debuted.

Bette belts out these songs with soul and fiery passion. The only other contemporary singer I can imagine doing a similarly credible job is Melissa Etheridge.

Sissy Spacek won the Best Actress Oscar for Coal Miner's Daughter (1980), but in retrospect I'm sure a lot of people regret not having awarded it to Bette Midler. This was not only an amazing, high caliber performance, but one that the passage of time has not diminished. This is a stunning movie. My dream is to rent a movie theatre for an evening, invite 30 friends, and relive this great experience.

Movie theatres used to be bigger, and were aptly called "movie palaces". THE ROSE deserves to be seen in such a grand venue. In the rich pantheon of movie history, THE ROSE is true royalty.

Note added October 9, 2007: It has been over a year, and I have no indication if anyone has ever read this review. If you read it, even if you give it a thumbs down, please answer whether the review was useful to you or not. I just am so curious if anyone will EVER read it. Right now, I'm listening to the soundtrack. This movie is timeless.
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"Stay With Me, Baby"
niara6 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this film in college for $1 in 1980 and never really appreciated it until now.

It is amazing to note that this is the same Bette Midler who did all those Disney/Touchtone movies (Down and Out in Beverly Hills, etc.)! This is not a happy film. It has no happy ending. Most of the film is dark, adding to the dreariness of the story.

But you just watch Bette watching Houston Dyer leave her because he couldn't put up with her life. Watch him as he pauses before he gets into the tractor trailer that he's just hitched a ride with, watch him as he looks back at her, almost reflecting, thinking, for just a moment, reconsidering his choice, and then makes the decision to live with the choice and get on the truck, going God only knows where, leaving her.

Camera goes back to Bette, on the ground, wailing in agony, despair, and sadness.

You just watch Bette singing "Stay With Me, Baby" at the end of the film at the concert when she goes back to her hometown. How many takes before they got it right? Once? 37? She's on her knees, she's cradling the microphone, her eyes are blackened with the makeup that has mingled with the tears. Watch David Keith applaud from offstage as he's watching her give the performance of her life and KNOW that that applause was ad-libbed, that he was completely knocked out by her performance.

And then come back and tell me that this film was crap. I've seen Norma Rae and always believed that Sally Field deserved her Oscar but I no longer think that. Bette was robbed, plain and simple.
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...had you been on the set...
fimimix5 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I am the only surviving female-impersonator who played in "The Rose". I was the only one who had a talking-scene with Midler and Forest. I was approached to be Bette's impersonator in a drag-club, because I was/am a live performer. Midler's manager, Aaron Russo - who had come to check me out - called-out that I was doing Bette's "jokes" during a live performance in the world-famous "The Queen Mary", a night club in Studio City, CA - now sadly closed after 42 years. However, I do not do impersonations of other performers. What the manager didn't know is that most of her material came from drag-queens. I also had appeared in The 82 Club in New York City - a mafia-run establishment, and wonderful to work for, also closed - and was hired originally by Rydell as a consultant for the physical attributes in a long-closed speakeasy in downtown Los was larger, but perfect. After a conversation with Mark Rydell and a singing audition for an unseen Ms. Midler, I was told "bring an outfit - we've written a role for you". I was hesitant to accept - there was no contract for a speaking-role, I was paid only scale. I attended the first day of shooting on location, but did not go for the second day - they came to get me, I suppose because they liked what they saw in the "dailies" - There was a third day of shooting, all of which were totally miserable for me - I had no aspirations to be a "movie-star" - I was an established drag-act with a large following and loved my work. My drag-appearance was outrageous, as you'll know if you saw the film "The Rose" - I planned it that way, because that's the act I was doing at the time the film was shot. The role I did in the film actually was an impersonation of someone's identity I cannot divulge - I'm sure many New Yorkers picked-up on it immediately. All of the hair-dressers on location were shocked with my hairpiece - they could not have combed it. On the final day of shooting, it became very quiet after the "wrap". Ms. Midler very quietly called me over to speak with her before the entire company, thanking me for being so quiet during the shooting, not constantly calling "make-up", "hair" as the other impersonators did. I was highly complimented.

I've seen the film only once in a theater, and became so engrossed with the story, I completely forgot I was in it. Like 90% of the audience, when I saw myself I gasped. I heard people call-out my name, as I sunk deeper into my seat. It was only then I became extremely gratified to have been in the film. Ms. Midler and I never stuck to the script, because it did not bring-out that her character had once been down-and-out when she lived above "The 777 Club", and I supplied her with drugs. There is enough unused film from that shoot to make another film. What a waste of money ! It was and is my opinion the entire scene could have been left-out, it was so poorly, ruthlessly edited.

I worked for many years in "The Queen Mary" after the film was released. I never made a big deal that I was in the film. People asked if I were in "The Rose" during my performances - and do still today wherever I happen to be - and I tell them I was, but it was only another job - as it was just that. I'm much better known for performances at "The Queen Mary" than having appeared in "The Rose". I've turned-down opportunities to appear in other films, because I have no real interest, unless the money is good. Scale.....peanuts. Making movies is not fun !! All that standing-around, shooting the same scene 50 times-a-day.

If you are familiar with "The Queen Mary", you'll know my name. Otherwise, you'll have to look at this sensational film to discover my identity. I call myself "The Oldest Drag-Queen in Captivity", because I'm 82-going-on 30.

As other posters have stated, "The Rose" IS NOT A BIOP OF JANIS JOPLIN. If it's true the story was just a film for Ms. Midler to perform in to show her talent, it is a fabulous testament to that fact. Is she an actress? Indeed! She could not have done the body of work she accomplished without being one. Viva Midler ! The appearance of the film is exactly as it was intended to be - criticize all you want, this is a major film - and will become a classic.
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Midler emerges as a star!
rosscinema31 August 2003
This was Bette Midler's first starring role in a film and she finally showed the world what a great talent she is. This story is very loosely based on Janis Joplin and it takes place (Supposedly) in 1969. Midler is a famous rock n' roll diva Mary Rose Foster and she's known just as "Rose". She's burnt out and lonely but is kept working by her gruff manager/promoter Rudge Campbell (Alan Bates) who supplies her with shots of adrenalin to keep her going. Rose is an alcoholic and a former drug user and she has a tough past from growing up in Florida. This past haunts her and she keeps talking about showing everyone from there how she has made it. After a country singing star named Billy Ray (Harry Dean Stanton) orders her to never sing one of his songs again and ridicules her morals Rose is furious. She takes off with a limo driver named Huston Dyer (Frederic Forrest) and starts a romance with him. Rudge thinks Huston is just another hanger on but Rose thinks she has finally met her true love. Huston tells her that he's actually AWOL from the army and she tells him of her past in Florida. They have a rocky relationship and Rose meets an Army PFC named Mal (David Keith) who tags along on the tour. This film is directed by Mark Rydell who went on to direct "On Golden Pond" and one thing he has shown in both films is complete trust in his actors. There is very little structure to this film and its mainly just a showcase for Midler. Without her dynamite performance this would have been one of the biggest duds in history. Give Rydell credit for a good eye in giving Midler the opportunity. The film consists of two types of scenes. The concert footage that shows Midler's tremendous voice and stage presence, and the scenes where she's on the verge of a nervous breakdown and the inability to exist in the real world. Its very rare to see an unknown explode on screen like this. Midler is nothing short of riveting and astonishing. Her character is so dark and bleak that an actress of lesser strength would have gave out but Midler has so much energy that she appears tireless. The films cinematographer is the great Vilmos Zsigmond and over 90% of the scenes are either at night or in low lit rooms. This gives the film the dark and bleak look that epitomizes Rose's personality and future. Forrest as Huston is also excellent. Aside from "Apocalypse Now" this was his finest performance and the two of them have real chemistry on screen. Forrest spent most of his career playing hardnoses or heavies but here he plays a real normal guy who is at odds with himself and if he should remain with the always drunken Rose. The film does go way too long and some of the scenes are pointless. It seemed irrelevant when a former lesbian lover pops up out of nowhere and Rose and Huston have a big fight. This part of the film could have been edited out completely as it serves no purpose. Ponderous handling of the material by Rydell but with Midler's gut wrenching performance it becomes a film that is ultimately unforgettable.
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Do not miss this film! A masterpiece in disguise!
tellafriend3 August 2002
Bette Midler IS the Rose! There are not too many films out there in which the viewer forgets their watching a movie - this is one of them. Watching The Rose is almost like snooping on someone's personal life... you know you shouldn't but you can't believe what's being revealed to you right before your eyes! Bette Midler is simply "divine" and completely believable as the worn-out, alcohol-abusing rock star who is in dire need of love and a break but continues to please her audience - and her ruthless, money hungry manager. After kicking a bad drug habit we watch her throughout the movie slowly, little by little, sink back down to the bottom. You root for her throughout hoping she just runs away from the rock and roll life that's slowly killing her but she seems to need it as much as it needs her. In the end it devours her and we're left wondering "why". This film changed my life when I was a teenager with a rock 'n' roll dream. Bette Midler pours her heart and soul into this film, and it shows in every frame. Combine that with an awesome sound track, breathtaking full length song performances and an over-the-edge personality and you have one heck of a film here!
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BlackJack_B4 October 2001
I'm no fan of Bette Midler, but I was mighty impressed by her first starring role in "The Rose". The Divine Miss M plays Rose, a Janis Joplin-type, living her last days in a sea of sex, booze, and drugs. The movie shows painfully and slowly how her life goes completely out of control, while her friends and management are helpless.

Midler, unlike the unbearably long line of singers/rappers/divas/bubblegum pop stars who have done acting, can do both and dominate. Midler's Oscar-nominated performance is awesome, and her singing voice is superb as she belts out the songs with panache. If you want to see her do something else besides the endless comedies she does, check this one out.
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An OSCAR worthy film and performance.
dm31718 November 1999
The Rose is about a woman whose sole purpose in life was to give of herself completely. Protected from adult responsibilities by her manager, "Rose" dug further and further inside herself, alienating all those who loved her. With an adolescent attitude toward life, she indulged in every excess. The poignant scene in the phone booth, where she overdoses on a lethal combination of pain killers, heroin, and booze is certainly worthy of an Academy Award. We feel her pain, and we really believe we are seeing a woman in the last hour of her life. Killing herself before our eyes, yet we are helpless to stop her. We can't stop watching. The final scene, and the final song Rose sings, Stay With Me, is filmmaking at its best. It sums up her life, and the life of so many talented musicians (Kurt Cobane, Jim Morrison, etc). Rose was desperate to have someone, anyone, who was there just for her. Yet she pushed everyone away who truly cared about her. Bette Midler's passionate and inspired performances in concert footage is unforgettable. The Rose is one of the best movies ever made.
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A poignant & powerful rock drama with a remarkable Bette Midler performance
Woodyanders21 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Better Midler gives a smashing, touching, tear-the-house-down dynamic and exhilarating Oscar-nominated performance as the Rose, a fabulously wealthy and successful popular rock superstar sensation who's been burnt-out and worn down by too much long hard time on the road, too much booze and drugs (Rose likes to swig Southern Comfort straight from the bottle while performing live on stage), too many cameras in her face and too much time spent recording songs in the studio at the expense of having a meaningful and fulfilling personal life, all of which leaves Rose feeling terribly lonely, unhappy and unloved. Rose wants to take a much-needed vacation, but her pushy, ruthless, overbearing greedhead manager Rudge Campbell (flawlessly played to intensely contemptible perfection by Alan Bates) urges her to do a special hometown concert. Rose finds temporary solace in her relationship with good-looking nice guy drifter Houston Dyer (a characteristically top-drawer turn by the criminally undervalued Frederic Forrest, who deservedly snagged a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his superlative work here), but Dyer's inability to easily handle Rose's wild lifestyle of debauched excess only exacerbates the severity of Rose's depression, which goes off the deep end into total despair with tragic consequences.

Loosely based on the real-life flash-in-the-pan live fast, live hard, live like today's almost over and tomorrow ain't never gonna happen and if you live like this too much you will most certainly die young sex'n'drugs'n'rock'n'roll exploits of Janis Joplin, "The Rose" poignantly exposes the horrible price of fame and fortune, showing to often devastating effect the way fame destroys one's ability to have a personal life, pushes people to a near breaking point, and grinds people down to nothing after they lose the strength needed to withstand the strain being a famous person grimly entails. Mark Rydell's perceptive direction and the trenchant script by Bill Kirby and Bo Goldman neither glorifies nor vilifies the rock'n'roll lifestyle, opting instead to merely show its potentially dangerous pratfalls with a properly glum, depressing tone and an arresting, unflinching frankness.

Vilmos Zsigmund's glittering, burnished, faded cinematography gives the film an appropriately blinding brightly saturated color flashy look, shooting the lively, uninhibited concert sequences through a dense smoky haze of piercing reddish hues (such fellow noted cameramen as Laszlo Kovacs, Owen Roizman and Haskell Wexler also lent a hand to the dazzling concert sequences). Toni Basil, who had a fluke top 10 hit tune with the waggish novelty song "Hey Mickey," did the raunchy'n'raucous dance choreography. Midler belts out all her songs in a hoarse, bluesy, whiskey-ravaged alto with incredible incendiary gusto; the highlights include the hauntingly beautiful and melancholy title ballad, a torchy, slow-burning rendition of "When a Man Loves a Woman," and a hilariously campy shredding of Bob Seger's "Fire Down Below" done in a drag queen bar with a bunch of outrageous transvestite celebrity lady impersonators (70's mock disco diva Sylvestor plays the Diana Ross lookalike). Midler's show-dominating tour-de-force portrayal gets sterling support from an exceptional cast peppered with stand-out character actors: David Keith as a bashful soldier, Jack Starrett as a country music road manager, John Dennis Johnson as a rowdy hick jerk in a hillbilly bar, Jonathan Banks as an oily TV promoter, Don Calfa as a smarmy music biz leech, Victor Argo as a bath house locker room attendant, Will Hare as an amiable grocer, and, in a particularly chilling and startling cameo, the great Harry Dean Stanton as a cold-hearted a**hole country singer/songwriter who flatly tells Rose right to her face that he thinks her singing stinks. A sad, insightful and eye-opening film, "The Rose" makes for a truly heart-breaking, but undeniably powerful portrait of an all-too-human and fragile person who gets led down the road to ruin by the very business that ironically made her.
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An Emotionally Moving Story With One Electrifying Performance
Lechuguilla14 March 2011
As a pumped-up, neurotic 1960s rock star named Rose, Bette Midler energizes this film with a soulful, emotional performance deserving of Oscar recognition. Midler animates the character so well that, paradoxically, she rather overwhelms the film's plot about a famous singer who nonetheless is insecure and fragile.

I would estimate that roughly a quarter of the film's runtime consists of Midler on-stage singing and performing in front of an audience of hundreds, and in one case thousands, of extras as part of a real-life concert. The technical logistics of putting together such a believable event is quite impressive, with multiple cameras, special effects, complex lighting, and in only one camera take.

The non-concert plot has Rose in various states of emotional highs and lows, mostly lows, as she laughs and cries, whines and moans, and argues and fights with those around her. This is a lady who is controlled by emotion, not reason or logic. She laughs one minute, cries the next, then laughs, then cries some more.

As such, the plot trends emotionally repetitive, though we as viewers sense that all this enormous gushing of raw feeling can't continue indefinitely. And thus with great effect, the film has a dramatic ending, one that combines character resolution with stunning visuals, followed by end credits set against the musical backdrop of Amanda McBroom's moving, hymn-like title song, "The Rose".

By far the best element of the film is Midler's electrifying performance. Yet, the concert footage and film editing are also impressive. The weak link is a plot that, though acceptable, seems anemic in comparison to Midler and the stunning visuals.

Inspired by the unnerving musical career of Janis Joplin, "The Rose" presents viewers with an emotionally moving story, character driven, that is set within an overall film production that is technically both competent and credible.
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Haunting and bleak magnificently acted film
sultana-126 May 2001
Loosely based upon the life of Janis Joplin and her struggles with fame and drugs, the Rose stays with the viewer long after the final fadeout. Acting tour-de-forces are manifest everywhere, and although virtually the entire supporting cast brings a Broadway-style truth and urgency that make thus excellent.
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A surprisingly good mix of fact & fiction!
bfjrnski21 January 2004
Originally intended as a flat-out biography of Janis Joplin's last days titled "Pearl" ( Janis' nickname and alter-ego ) the filmakers allegedly ran into privacy issues with the Joplin family which caused them to take a more "loosely based" approach of a "composite" character! Even Bette Midler herself had some ideas of her own that promised to provide a fictious portrayal! Since I had always found Janis Joplin's life both fascinating and tragic I had to write off seeing this movie in the theatres when it first came out in 1979.It wasn't until sitting through it on HBO that I could truly appreciate how utterly great Bette Midler's performance was!It certainly stayed close enough to the "truth" while adding some dynamic elements that a Janis biography portrayed by anyone else would have sorely lacked! Bette Midler is truely at her best! She pours out her heart and soul into this role and leaves nothing behind!Her rock concert scenes alone show her broad talent as a stage performer! Her scenes drunk & stoned give a rare glimpse into a lonely and crazy world of rock stars(like Janis Joplin was!) Her scene with her childhood country-music idol reminded me of a similar situation between Janis and Johnny Cash! Her former lesbian lover is reminiscent of Janis' one-time "biographer/lover" Peggy Caserta! The "homecoming" concert at the film's end reminded me of Janis' 10-year-highschool reunion which she attended only shortly before her death! All in All I regret not having seen (in the theatre) this "loosely based" and yet "thinly disguised" story of Janis!With Bette Midler at center stage it stands as both a glowing tribute to Janis AND Bette!
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sr-shah30 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
While watching this film about an excessive and compulsive rock star, I had to wonder if Bette Midler had ever been drunk in her life, or even gotten laid, much less experimented with drugs. It seemed she had no personal experience to draw from to create the mannerisms and expressions required of her character. Has she ever even seen a rock concert? It was all melodrama barely fit for a TV series. She certainly gave it the old college try. Her effort, at least, can't faulted while she's in front of the camera, but it seemed to me that there was an appalling lack of research done for her role and even less for the other minor characters. I just found the whole thing painful and tedious and most of all, way too long. I couldn't wait for it to be over. I am totally blown away that she was nominated for an Academy award and that there are so many gushing reviews. I didn't think it was possible to have such a completely opposite reaction to a film, but that is the beauty of individuality, I suppose. Perhaps the attraction is just seeing Midler so out of character, but to me it is totally unconvincing and no other aspect of the film steps in to fill that void. If I never have to sit through this again, it'll be too soon.
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Shrill and Dated
mr_deadly24 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Apologies to fans of this film, but I found it shrill and vastly over-rated.

The characters and performances are, on the whole, poorly written and acted. Ms. Midler emotes her heart out, which is occasionally effective but is more often histrionic. She is ridiculously over-the-top, veering from vicious drag-queen to out-of-control drunk to weepy little girl. Her manager is a tedious cardboard villain while her boyfriend displays moments of charm but can't avoid the overwrought pitfalls of the film.

The sequence with the former lesbian lover of the Midler character highlights what is wrong with the film. It was contrived and unbelievable, the lovely former lover a wooden prop to set up another scene of people freaking out. It all rang hollow and false and loud and melodramatic. What unlikeable people! The era it documents is tragic from an aesthetic point-of-view. Whether it is the hair, clothing, or sets, everything in the film matches the characters: ugly. The sequence in the red-neck diner comes to mind for the same reason: ugly dialogue, ugly behavior, ugly attitudes. This is a film for masochists and connoisseurs of ugliness.

The only blessing is that the ending precluded the possibility of a sequel. I was grateful when this film was finally over. If I want a trashy melodrama, I want it to include some fun and some comedy, both of which are utterly absent from The Rose.
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Compelling and Emotional story about a female rock legend.
Moe-2519 May 1999
Bette Midler was awesome. A sad but compelling story with great rock music and Bette is awesome in the concert scenes. She is a woman that can sing any kind of music beautifully. Her portrayal as a high energy rock singer was perfect with her stage presence and personality. Superb movie.
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Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose ...
dbdumonteil6 June 2007
"The Rose" -which they say was inspired by Joplin's life- has stood the test of time quite well;the main reason is Bette Middler's sensational performance .She has not still yet found another part as rewarding as Rose .Full of strong scenes and of extraordinary renditions (the title track and "when a man loves a woman" particularly),it grabs you till the last picture (a light which goes out).The scene in the gay nightclub where another Rose,"Diana Ross" and "Barbra Streisand" join the singer for a song is almost scary.So is that scene when a respectable country singer -Rose covered one of his songs - treats the poor girl like dirt ,this man must be a saint or else he is a hypocrite:could you imagine ,say,Kris Kristofferson blaming Janis Joplin for covering "Me and Bobby McGee " ,a tune she took to number one ? With fine support from Alan Bates as the evil manager and Frederick Forrest as the big hearted deserter,"the rose" still remains one of the best film about the cruel thankless world of rock.It avoids the mistakes of movies dealing with true stars (Ray Manzarek did not think much of "the Doors" ).
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a rose is a rose is...
Lee Eisenberg28 August 2006
Making her film debut, Bette Midler plays a singer loosely based on Janis Joplin. Midler does a very good job in the role, showing the woman making something of herself, but living a self-destructive life to the point where she ruins herself. A particularly eye-popping scene is when she struts through the men's room and the men get all freaked out and start jumping into the pool. You gotta wonder what's with those guys.

Equally as good as Midler is Alan Bates as her manager and sometimes lover. "The Rose" is certainly a movie that I recommend, and I believe the director later directed Bette Midler in the equally interesting "For the Boys". Also starring Don Calfa and Doris Roberts.
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Bette Midler Grips You and Never lets go! Electrifying! Sensational!
lawrence_elliott9 May 2007
This is a most exciting, gripping and fabulous film. Bette Midler's electrifying performance was worthy of best actress. The Janis Joplin type performance is stunning - her heart and soul is in her voice which pulsates and vibrates into your very being and sends shock waves of electricity tingling coolly down the back of your spine touching your very soul. This is a gut-wrenching experience that teaches nothing but makes you experience everything.

I love this film, the music and the voice and performance of Bette Midler. What a thrill it is to see an artist like Bette Midler perform to such an extreme and lofty level. What a dazzling radiant star that burned so brightly for so short a time and then was so suddenly and prematurely snuffed out. But when an artist gives so much of herself in every song she sings, it is no wonder that her life was slowly drained and eventually terminated by the fans who loved her.

I was working with The Canadian Film Institute in 1980, one year after the release of this film, and we put on a festival in Ottawa at the National Film Archives Theatre in July. We started out with "The Rose" at 8pm and then concluded with Crawley Films Academy Award winning Documentary film "Janis" at 11pm. It was just like a live Rock Concert. The crowd was in a frenzy. The only thing missing was Jimi Hendrix! Love this one. Real entertainment and excitement!

I should note that the director, Mark Rydell, does an overview commentary on the DVD version of this film and it is like taking a university level cinematic studies course. He makes interesting and relevant comments on every scene in the film and it is well worth listening to. Highly informative and fascinating!
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Fire down below -spoiler-
lawlibrarian15 November 2002
Warning: Spoilers
There were two films of this genre: The Rose & A Star is Born.

The Divine Ms. M turns in a performance that tops Kris

Kristofferson & Barbara Streisand - with ease (using one of

Kristofferson's songs & a drag-queen Streisand impersonator!).

This film is a novelty / mockumentary take on a Janis Joplin type.

Obviously, Ms. Middler would have made a documentary if she had

wanted. . .so this is Bette jumping off where she feels she can

give an over-the-top performance.

There are no bad parts to this film. There are no bad songs. The

whole film has high production values and is comparable to The

Last Waltz in the intensity of the performance.

My favorite song is "Fire Down Below" - a dynamite performance.

Somehow the performance was left off of the soundtrack album

and the only decent cover is Bob Seger's.

If you want to see Bette acting and singing at a level few can hope

to equal: watch the film.
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The loneliness of stardom.
TOMASBBloodhound5 April 2007
The Rose is a fairly good loose depiction of the life and tragedy of Janis Joplin. Bette Midler more than pulls it off as the title character. She plays a singer who seems larger than life when she's on stage, but once she steps off it, we see a troubled and lonely woman on the brink of a complete breakdown. In an early scene, Rose pleads with her manager (Alan Bates) to give her a year off to presumably dry out and rest up. Her manager scoffs at this notion more than once throughout the film as there is just too much at stake financially if she stops performing for a while. We see Rose sink deeper and deeper into depression and alcoholism as the film goes on from one performance to another. Along the way, Rose meets up with a limo driver (Frederic Forrest) with whom she has a fling. Houston, as he's called, is drawn to this rich and vulnerable woman, but he cannot deal with some of her personal circumstances. He feels a lot of the attention she receives comes from the wrong people and for the wrong reasons. Rose really likes this guy, and the troubles she has with him really make things a lot worse as the film moves toward its conclusion. That being a concert which will be held in her home town. She also has an ambiguous relationship with David Keith who plays a young soldier she meets up with in an airport scene. Keith is supposedly hired on as a bodyguard, but his true purpose is never really explained. Problems with both people and substance abuse build throughout the film, and the conclusion can be seen from quite a ways off.

The film has several good points. First off, the acting is terrific all around. Midler has the feisty character down perfectly. Alan Bates as her manager is top drawer, too. Their conflict creates perhaps the most memorable scenes. Forrest mostly underplays as a country boy along for the ride who has a hard time coming to grips with this wild woman who has just fallen for him. Nobody comes up short in the acting department.

The down side to this film deals with Ms. Midler's singing. Director Mark Rydell has to toe a pretty thin line in terms of what this film is trying to be. Is it a musical vehicle built around Midler's singing ability, or is it a drama about a tragic musical figure? To his credit, Rydell pretty much has it both ways. Midler's singing ability is what it is. Personally I can take or leave it. Do some of the songs go on too long? For me, yes. I would have preferred more dialog and less music. But hard core fans of Midler will love the songs.

The idea this film effectively conveys is that celebrities are often some of the most lonely people on earth. True, they are surrounded by all kinds of staff and get all kinds of attention from fans, but beneath all of that there really isn't much to it for most celebs. The way they live, especially musicians who constantly tour, gives them little time to settle down and experience traditional friendships or romantic relationships. Notice how in an early scene, Rose practically falls down the stairs of an airplane, and nobody helps her! Her band just casually gets on a bus and her manager grudgingly goes over and helps her up after a moment. Regular people who are neither rich or famous often cannot fathom how some celebs seem to self-destruct before they've even had long careers. (Britney Spears would come to mind.) Truth is, we humans are all basically creatures of duality. No matter who we are, we all have our good and bad times. Most people can get through the bad times with the help of friends and family. Celebrities however have a lot farther to fall than most people when things start coming apart. Other than expensive rehab facilities which seldom work, a celeb usually has nobody else to turn to that can deal with them as a real person while they attempt to overcome their demons. That said, is it any wonder so many of them go from top of the world to down in the gutter seemingly overnight? 7 of 10 stars.

The Hound.
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Very sad, in more ways than one
MadMax-478 August 2011
I'm at a loss to explain the success of this movie. It's not that it was awful, but I didn't see anything that special about it. Maybe there was something groundbreaking in 1979 that I'm missing, having not seen it then.

Short form, I feel like all I saw was Bette Midler alternately crying and screaming. This may well be what such people go through, and to her credit, Midler cries and screams with the best of them, but I'm exhausted, and not in a cathartic way. I'm exhausted from trying to find some reason to care about this character, who never seems to be empathetic, and never seems to make any good decisions. To make matters worse, I've watched the film on This TV, which pads movies with extra commercials, so I've had three hours of crying and screaming.

If this truly was Janis Joplin's life, if there was never a happy moment for her to just relax and enjoy, then I feel for the poor child.
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Midler's Performance Is The Highlight
sddavis633 September 2008
Bette Midler offers a performance that is both powerful (for the actress) and troubling (for the character.) She plays Mary Rose Foster, a girl who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Florida, but by 1969 (when the movie is set) ended up as a mega-rock star known simply as "The Rose." Unfortunately, in the midst of all her success her life falls apart. She ends up (by the time the movie begins) as a lonely alcoholic close to burnout, but with a manager (Alan Bates) who won't let her have time to recuperate, and instead just keeps pushing her on and on to the next show. Rose just wants to play one last concert - in her hometown to show the locals what a star she's become and then (as she says repeatedly) she wants to take a year off (and from the looks of her she could use it.)

Midler made this movie. It was her first starring role, and it was a challenging one, but she pulled it off perfectly. I'm not a huge fan of her style of singing, but the behind the scenes look at life on the road was interesting enough, at least for a while. Admittedly, the story became a bit monotonous after a while and there were extended scenes that really didn't seem necessary to the development of the story, but director Mark Rydell does manage to pull the viewer into Rose's life, and make her a sympathetic character. The movie also featured a decent performance from Frederic Forrest as Rose's love interest Huston Dyer, who started as her chauffeur and ended up as her lover, but eventually had to get away from her and the life she was leading, although I found the romance a bit too contrived to be believable.

I thought this was a good movie, memorable mostly for Midler and the music. Even with the weaknesses that are clearly present, I'm still going to 8/10 for this.
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Midler and middling
vandino15 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
If you have little interest in Bette Midler then this film is not for you, because she's the whole show. And quite a show she puts on. What works is that Midler is a seasoned concert performer, thus you can believe her as a successful singer, whereas putting Sally Field up there (Field won the 79 Oscar for 'Norma Rae' over Midler's performance here) would be considered a joke. In fact, Midler could've played Field's role in 'Norma Rae' probably just as well, so with that consideration I would've given the Oscar to Bette. But, even though the film is an out-and-out take on Janis Joplin, it leaves out too much background to really put itself across, no matter how hard Midler tries. We get the tail end of 'The Rose' not the beginning or even the middle. Not that we need the whole story, but a tragedy requires the top end before the fall. The manager/promoter played by Alan Bates declares that he took her from being a useless junkie singer to the top of the music game. If she was a junkie early on, then her spiraling out later on should be no surprise to any one and not particularly telling. Much in this film is left undiscussed or figured out. We never get a real angle from Alan Bates' character. We can only assume that David Keith's character of a uniformed soldier turned bodyguard is not AWOL (like Frederic Forrest's character), but is actually done with his military service (and that even though Rose professes so much love for Forrest's Houston, actually spends more of the film with Keith's character). In the concert finale, we see Rose downing enough liquor, pills and heroin to turn her into a near-collapse zombie, but somehow rally and put over an opening number in the grand manner... only to fall-over dead during the next song in a melodramatic moment that you just knew was going to happen (rock stars like Joplin, Hendrix, Morrison, Bonham, etc. all died in bed, on the floor, or in the bathtub, but how cinematic is that?) Still, this overlong film does have the merit of Midler's dynamic performance and she's a pistol throughout. For such a big part Midler rarely shows any acting-gears working; she's very natural. As for the score, granted that music is very subjective, but I didn't notice any songs that would have stood out on radio and been hits to propel Rose's career, except perhaps the title song. Additionally, I confess I am no fan of Joplin's jungle caterwaul of a "voice" with its frenzied shrieking sounding more like therapy than stylish singing. So, in honor of the Joplin aspect of the movie, Midler tries out some of that shriek-style to neither her or the film's benefit. Her downfall should also be registered in her voice, but if she can rasp out a tune and be applauded no matter how bad she sounds, then there's no effect. For example, in Spike Lee's 'Mo Better Blues' the trumpet player acted by Denzel Washington is coaxed to play for a crowd, but he's lost his chops, and the disappointed crowd's reaction is dramatically telling. But even discounting the Joplin mannerisms, Midler is not a noticeably good singer anyway. She's more visual than audio. Midler's Catskills/Bathhouse showmanship has always been far superior to her rather mediocre vocal ability. She puts over a song with her bouncy, sassy style, overcoming the thin rasp of a voice that resembles the sounds of a female Richard Harris. Much like how her big smile and big chest offset her tiny stature and more-angular-than-even-Streisand face. But the woman has loads of talent and it's a shame that the film world never took advantage of it when she was in her prime. She should have lit the world on fire in the eighties, but unfortunately it never happened. This film at least gives us a time capsule of what she could do in her younger days.
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Haunting and moving
alexeisch7 January 2007
I loved this movie. Bette Midler is one of my favorite actresses but her portrayal of a washed up, burnt out, alcoholic, drug abusing 'Janis Joplin' was by far her best performance. She looked fantastic and while some of the 'concert' scenes were a bit long, overall the movie was very well done. The scene where she is walking up to the stage in Florida at the stadium and almost falls over gave me chills and her singing 'Stay With Me Baby' was the most moving and powerful performance I have ever seen. It literally brought tears to my eyes. The roller-coaster of emotions that you go through in this movie will stay with you long after the last credit has left the screen. Bette Midler at her best, when she collapses at the end you truly feel as if you have lost right along with her. The best 'music' movie I have ever seen.
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Bette Midler's Showstopping Film Debut Still Packs a Punch
Isaac58552 August 2006
Bette Midler delivered an electrifying performance in 1979's THE ROSE, an explosive and emotionally charged musical drama, oh-so-loosely based on the life of rocker Janis Joplin, that earned Midler an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Midler pulls out all the stops as a burnt out rock and roller who thinks she has everything in the world she could possibly want, except for the love of a good man, which she almost finds with a chauffeur/drifter (Frederic Forrest)who has a secret or two of his own. Midler is in virtually every frame of this film and completely commands the screen that completely belies the fact that this is her first film. Forrest provides solid support as the new man in The Rose's life as does Alan Bates, who plays her hard-nosed manager. Midler proves herself to be a powerful actress, but the film;m really comes alive during the musical sequences with "When a Man Loves a Woman" and "Stay With Me Baby" as definite standouts. Static direction and a somewhat clichéd screenplay are completely overpowered by Hurricane Bette. If you're a Midler fan, this is a must-see.
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Bette Midler Makes the Movie!
poopsiy22 February 2001
I sincerely love this movie. Its well made, the storyline and script are both good, and the acting and singing by Bette are truly divine!

Bette's vocals and charismatic acting ability shine through in this movie, which clearly shows the star she really is! After viewing this, I ran out and bought it, thats how good it is.

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