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The Explosion of Eric Roberts
Miles Charrier6 February 2005
Whitin this shockingly beautiful docudrama there is a performance by Eric Roberts that goes beyond anything we had ever seen an actor do on screen. He explodes in front of our eyes. Fearless, horrible, pathetic, sad but above all truthful. With the kind of truth we're not use to deal with. I was horrified because I understood it, like James Mason in Lolita. I'm not sympathising with him but I'm understanding him. The counterpart to Roberts's human monster is not Mariel Hemigway's beautiful Dorothy Stratten but Carroll Baker as Dorothy's mother. We can tell by looking into her face that she knows. She knows,she senses, she fears to be right because there is so little she can do. Carroll Baker's superb portrayal represents us. We dread what she dreads and like her, we're impotent to the unavoidable. Star 80 is a masterpiece. Like all of Bob Fosse's work, nothing is casual. The puzzle that he presents us with, connects the dots in a twisted, although immediately recognisable, pattern, leading inexorably to the most excruciating domestic tragedy. From Othelo to O J Simpson. Our every day horror served cold as a shattering work of art.
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Eric Roberts is absolutely incredible
PILBOW17 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the best movies of all time. It was made by Bob Fosse and is in the same pseudo documentary style as LENNY, also by Fosse. STAR 80 is about Dorothy Stratten, a playboy playmate who is killed by her husband. But the movie centers more on the boyfriend turned husband, played by Eric Roberts. What's amazing about this movie is that you actually feel for Robert's character, Paul Snider. He is such an incredible actor that you really see a human side to Snider. He's a liar, and a cheater, and conman, but human nonetheless. You follow Snider before he meets Stratten, during her rise, and for a few short minutes, after her death. This movie is really about him, and is an incredible study on a deranged and jealous human being, who felt that who he had 'discovered' was being taken away from him. If you are familiar with the true story about Stratten, and if you haven't seen anything about it, the director character who Dorothy falls in love with towards the end - eventually setting off Snider - is really Peter Bogdonavitch. The movie he is making with Dorothy is "They All Laughed", a favorite film of Quentin Tarantino. Cliff Robertson, as Hugh Hefner, is terrific. Hefner's real life brother plays a photographer and, although his screen time is minimal, he gives a very good performance and has a funny line. I also liked the actor who played Snider and Stratton's friend, a plastic surgeon who they shared a mansion with. His character adds insight to the real Paul Snider just by being his friend who Snider can confide in. All in all, this is a great movie. What really works is how Fosse mixes the documentary style with narrative. It never gets boring and is always very entertaining as you go in and out, and back and forth, from past to present, and it never gets confusing. You follow Stratten's rise to stardom, but are really centering on how this quick rise burst Paul Snider's plastic bubble. Snider was a beast of a human being, but, it takes an incredible actor like Eric Roberts to show his human side... faltering as it is. You will, watching this, wonder both what happened to Eric Roberts (and why he really only appears in cable movies lately) and why he wasn't nominated for an Oscar. Or Bob Fosse for that matter. This is one of his best all-time films, as it's one of the best movies of all time, period. You just have to watch it, experience it, and, most importantly, for young beautiful girls who might get hustled by con men promising you the 'good life' ("You'll be a star"), you can LEARN from this movie as well, just as you'll wish that Stratten herself had had this movie to show her the way out of her horrible fate.
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Eric Roberts best performance.
yenlo3 December 1999
Eric Roberts was clearly the `STAR' of Star 80. His performance as the self proclaimed Gods gift to Women character Paul Snider is really what makes this film. He makes the viewer take an instant dislike to him from his opening scene and carries it all the way through. Mariel Heminways portrayal of the ill fated Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten is maybe lukewarm marginal. Cliff Robertson is cast as Hugh Hefner but somehow doesn't seem right for the role.

Sadly this was in fact a true tragic story. See it for no other reason than Eric Roberts superb portrayal of the seven letter word usually considered vulgar meaning a stupid, incompetent or detestable person boyfriend/husband/manager of Dorothy Stratten. Vastly superior to the alternate version 1981's Death of A Centerfold.
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Worth watching for Eric Roberts
Ajtlawyer21 June 2002
This was probably Eric Roberts' best movie. He steals the show as the sleazy, small-time hustler Paul Snider. Snider aches to be the big-shot, the real "Star 80" but is a failure at everything he tries---except when he gets Dorothy Stratten recognized by Playboy. Then, just as things might break through for them, Dorothy dumps him for a film director (in real life, Peter Bogdanovich). Of course we know the rest---sleazeball Snider kills Dorothy and himself.

Bogdanovich wrote a scathing book about the case, "Death of the Unicorn" in which he lam basts Hugh Hefner (no more invitations to the mansion for him). What is really weird is that Bogdanovich later married Dorothy Stratten's younger sister, who was in junior high when Dorothy was killed.
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one of the few great films from the 80's
buby198717 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Star 80 is about many things, but above all it is about the dark side of the American Dream. It is a counterpart to Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, because it depicts the disillusionment and self-destruction of a self-made man.

Snider believes in the American Dream, that if you outwork and out-hustle everyone else, and have a marketable product to hawk, you will be successful. It so happens that Snider's product is sex. Snider rises up through sheer determination (visually depicted in the opening work out scene, in which he pumps iron and does push-ups until he's on the verge of having a stroke). It also helps that Snider has no moral principles that hold him back.

Paul achieves the pinnacle of his desires when he gets to visit the Playboy Mansion. He not only gets the opportunity to socialize with Playboy Bunnies, but he gets to meet his spiritual father -- Hugh Hefner. Hefner is another self-made man who has turned sex into a big business, but unlike Snider, he is socially respectable.

But Paul blows it when he gets too familiar with Hefner. Hefner takes an instant dislike to Paul. As Dorothy rises up the food chain in Hollywood, getting roles in TV and in film, Paul finds himself banished from the charmed circle of Hefner's Mansion and he thereby self-destructs. All of his projects -- opening a male dance club, trying to get a waitress bimbo into the Mansion to meet Hef -- are failures. His wife drifts away from him, having an affair with her director.

Paul is out of his element in L.A., and soon crashes and burns. Fosse provides imagery and conceits of "falllng" and "crashing" -- such as the scene when the loan sharks dangle Paul out of 14-story hotel window, and Fosse's camera swish-pans sideways and downwards to give us an uneasy sense of vertigo and impending doom. This motif continues in the carnival scene, as Fosse inserts quick shots of amusement park rides whipping downward and sideways. There is even a doll perched precariously on a book shelf in Aram's office -- probably a symbol of Dorothy. There is also a telling line of dialog, when Dorothy's mother asks Paul what he will do if she doesn't sign the consent form, and Paul says, "I'll jump out a window." In the final rape/murder/suicide scene, there is an emphasis on falling -- and the final shot looks down from high above, at two dead, bloody bodies that seem to have dropped into Hell.

Fosse's use of pop music is superb, and revelatory. "Big Shot" by Billy Joel is about egomania fueled by coke, and not only does Paul want to be a big shot in Hollywood, he takes the ultimate "big shot" when he blows his brains out with a Mossberg shotgun. The Band's "Up On Cripple Creek" tells about a man who lives off his girlfriend. There is a lyric about betting on a nag, which is visually underlined in another scene when Paul changes horses on a merry-go-round (further expressed when Paul "changes horses" by trying to turn a bimbo waitress into another Dorothy). Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are" provides ironic commentary. Paul is not only dissatisfied with himself, but he constantly strives to change Dorothy from a naive teen into a mature, sophisticated woman -- and he succeeds too well, as Dorothy grows up and realizes she must get away from him. Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" is appropriate, as it provides auditory reinforcement of Paul's eager desire to please and make a good impression.

There is a lot of thought put into the film. Geb is not merely a doctor, he is a plastic surgeon, and has moved to West L.A. to flourish in his trade. His profession is all too apt in a world in which surface appearance is everything. He also gives the key speech in the film, in which he reminds Paul that in L.A., "There's always going to be someone with more money than you, someone with a longer penis than you." That last observation really gets to Paul. He feels grossly inadequate and must overcompensate in every situation. Geb also makes the questionable claim that the Rolls in his garage is just an investment, rather than an emblem of conspicuous consumption.

The film has a Shakespearean quality. Hefner is the King, Dorothy is the Princess, Aram is the Prince, and Paul is the Bastard. People like Geb are the loyal attendants in the King's court. Some, like Aram, are bestowed with the favor of the King, while others are dispatched into exile. Paul can't take the rejection, and kills Dorothy and himself. If the sexual revolution was really a Pandora's Box, then Paul is one of the demons let loose to hover ominously over the orgy.
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Eric Roberts dominates.
Hermit C-219 May 1999
Eric Roberts stole the show big time in this movie. He created one of the most despicable characters in all movie history, the small-time hustler Paul Snider. From the moment early on in the film when he's seen practicing his falsely sincere greetings in a mirror, the viewer takes an instant dislike to him. As he manipulates the naive and beautiful Dorothy Stratton (Mariel Hemingway) for his own selfish purposes the feeling gets almost exponentially larger. Hemingway is unlucky in a way to have to go up against such a dominating performance. She can't hope to match it, but she does a good enough job to make the film work. Cliff Robertson is excellent in the role of Hugh Hefner, which probably wasn't an easy situation, given that that man is both a well-known figure yet still a mysterious legend to some. Contrary to what a lot of people thought, I don't think Hefner came out looking that badly in the way that he was portrayed. This was a sad and ugly story but he wasn't the villain.

The movie serves as an epitaph to an ordinary young woman with extraordinary beauty who never had a chance once she got in the clutches of such a self-serving user. For me the most painfully sad moment in the movie came when Dorothy's mother (Carroll Baker) contemptuously tells Snider, "She never even used to go around in her bathrobe before you came along."

This movie is obviously not a lot of laughs but it's still worthwhile, especially for the outstanding performance of Roberts.
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A Star is Born Comes of Age -- Chilling Account
kingk-316 May 2005
An excellent film. Fosse's direction is flawless as he takes us inside the world of a controller who loses his grip and power. Mariel is wonderful as Dorothy Statton. Eric Robert's performance is of Oscar Caliber quality -- his portrayal haunts you and you can see his weakness -- you hate him, but a part of you can almost feel sorry for him until his real intentions are suddenly realized. This film was very well-done and deserves to be seen. This was Fosse's last film and it deserves to be seen. From the first frame, one is drawn into a spiraling cycle of destruction. Mariel's performance is perfect as she creates the naive young girl who as she changes into a more wordly woman who wants to explore life and all the possibilities which are opening for her. Much like A Star Is Born, this account of one Hollywood partner gaining fame as another falls. Not for the squeamish.
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Disturbing and real...
MarieGabrielle9 August 2006
story. This film is most interesting because of the era it depicts; ("you are what you drive, you should have your first million by age 35") etc. The 80's are fun to look back on, but living it was not necessarily great, unless you could "keep up with the Joneses".

Eric Roberts is very believable as Paul Schneider, a promoter who met Dorothy Stratten (while she was a kid working at a local Dairy Queen, in Canada), brought her to Hollywood, and resented her eventual success. Her shooting star to fame resulted in eventual tragedy.

Mariel Hemingway is believable as Stratten, although the truly innocent act is a bit hard to buy. Cliff Robertson portrays Hugh Hefner, a faded figure today, but still virile in the 80's.

The Roberts character is initially sleazy, then desperate, then pathetic. Apparently Paul Schneider could not keep up with Stratten, became overly possessive, and jealous of her success. She became involved with director Peter Bogdanovich, and this was the beginning of the end for Schneider.

The back-story of Hollywood in general and the rat race to stay on top, is very accurately presented. Schneider eventually tried to steal Stratten's name, to license her name and profit from her. When she had had enough, and no longer needed him, he took her fate in his own hands. The finale is stark and realistic. 9/10.
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Achingly sad and terrifically acted.
triple829 January 2004
It's hard to do a review of a movie where the real life events are so tragic AND this movie is sad from the start because you know how it's gonna play out. I will say though that I have seen this many times and that it is a very well done, terrifically acted movie. Obviously, no matter how good this movie was I'd prefer it not to have ever been made because I'd prefer the real life events this is based on, never to have happened at all. Since it WAS made, however I can say without a doubt that the main cast members do their job-Roberts makes you hate,dispise him with a passion and Hemmingway is fragile, lovely and achingly sweet. I have no doubt how easy it was to get swept up in the glamourous lifestyle Stratton lived, I think most people would have myself included. Seeing the story enfold as it did, and knowing the final outcome, it's hard not to yell at the screen at the end,even knowing that you can't go back in time and change the events that happened. Dorothy Stratten was young and lovely and kindhearted and had her whole life in front of her-it's hard to say one "enjoyed" a movie where the ending was so tragic and in this case true so I won't say that. But it IS a movie I have seen more then once and would recomend wholeheartedly. VERY very welldone.
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Left a lasting impression
cityhawk31 January 2000
The movie isn't perfect, but I'm surprised at its relatively lukewarm ratings. I can't add too much to what the others here have said about Eric Roberts' performance (it was spectacular), but I'll add that this film stayed with me for a long time. I'd seen it on HBO back in 1984. Recently, I stumbled across it again. After watching it, it took days for the spell that the movie had on me to wane.
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Star 80: Noir of the 70s
Yellar2 November 1998
Before Boogie Nights or 54 there was Star 80. Star 80 is similar to these latter-made films in that it charts the rise and fall of a beautiful and naive youth. But much more so than those films, Star 80 is a dark film, saturated with the seething decadence of 1970s shag-carpeted hip celebrity culture. The film itself is not so blatantly pulse pounding in that head-tripping disco style characteristic of the 1970s, but it certainly evokes that feeling. The Southern California setting of the film pulsates in its strip joints and private duplexes, but our view of it, through the filmmakers' perspective, does not. We remain all-too aware of the conclusion of the film and fate of Dorothy Stratten. The filmmakers, to their credit, rouse our imaginations of the hip LA nightlife, by not revealing too much of the underbelly. The sense of displacement for both the doomed heroine, who is from Canada, and the audience is evoked by such cinematic techniques as scene-crossing voice-overs, still-image montages, and back-flashes. When the filmmakers let us see shots of a naked Playboy Bunny's corpse and let us hear her sweet, soft voice at the same time, the visual-aural juxtaposition is unsettling to our sense of continuity. We hate what we see, but like what we here. Even with the film's explicit nudity and outright sexual overtures, there is still a sense of unexplored quarters behind the glitzy veneer of Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion and LA's raunchy strip clubs. For example, Paul Snider is portrayed as the self-destructive lover/shadow to Dorothy Stratten, but little is known about his personal history. We get only casual remarks about his imprudent personality and of course what we see of him when he walks and talks onscreen. We, like the characters around him, must infer the rest about Paul Snider. The surface of the film is that there is no smooth surface, just a dark brooding landscape filled with the nooks and crannies of human emotion. Only a film this textural would resist painting Hugh Hefner in a superficial manner like the public media persona that precedes him. Underneath the silken pajamas and smug look of this sultan of playboys is a man who seems every bit as seedy as Paul Snider is. But money and confidence apparently can wash away a lot of dirt. For example, when Hugh Hefner silently refuses to entertain Paul's "business" ideas, we get a peek at how a highly self-assured man avoids engaging a darker mirror image of himself. The final scene is tragic, depressing and truly the antithesis of a traditional denouement; no tension is relieved. That's pretty amazing considering that the audience knows from the opening shot how the film will end. The scene is elaborately played out with Paul plummeting to the nadir of his obsession, plastering the walls of his apartment with glossy, air-brushed images of Dorothy Stratten in order to create some sort of sacrificial shrine for the young maiden. His altar, a homemade "workout" bench, introduced earlier in the film hints at his creepy, unplumbed psychology and perverse desire for control. If Star 80 had been made today, the final scene would have been portrayed in a trashy, over-dramatized "re-enactment" like those from the tabloid television shows. Star 80, which was made in the early 1980s, seems to have a more organic feel of its subject than Boogie Nights or 54. Because these films were made by jaded and introspective perceptions of the 1990s, it's reasonable to assume they don't have the immediacy and grasp that Star 80 has over the 1970s. It's much easier to make a film shortly after a certain time period when the era has been lived through and digested into the cultural subconscious. Although this is true for Boogie Nights and 54, the mood isn't as easily drawn out onto film because the interim gestation period was much longer than for Star 80. After all, civilization has recently persevered through the 1980s and most of 1990s both painfully and triumphantly. On the scale of time, this difference is insignificant, but the cultural gaps between the time of disco and the time of DVD are mind-bending.
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Love and Hate
aminthepm200130 June 2005
When a performer can make you love and hate their character, feel pity, shame, worry, and all of the above simultaneously, that is great acting. Eric Roberts achieves all this and more ! Only Shirley Booth in "Come Back Little Sheba" and Eric Roberts in "Star 80" have had this kind of impact on me. Incredible film. Sort of off-topic now, but if you look closely, you will see "Victoria Porter" from "All That Jazz" as an auto show "hostess" and the dance mistress/choreographer's assistant, also from "ATJ" as a script supervisor during a movie filming scene. The entire film was very believable! Had a right here, right now feeling to it.
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Intense and Disturbing
mrb19801 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This story follows the tragic story of Dorothy Stratten from her Vancouver home, to Playboy centerfold, to the beginnings of movie stardom, then to her violent death at the hands of her estranged husband, Paul Snider. There's no way to make this subject matter happy, so be prepared.

Because most viewers know how the story will end, watching this film is very chilling. In addition, Eric Roberts' disturbing (but authentic) performance as Paul Snider will stay with you for a long, long time. Mariel Hemingway stars as the young and innocent Stratten, while Cliff Robertson has the role of Hugh Hefner.

The final scene, filmed in the house where the murder actually took place, is very difficult to watch. The movie is very well directed and acted. Eric Roberts' performance should have resulted in an Oscar nomination, but no one who plays a character this creepy would ever be nominated. This very good movie will haunt you for days after you watch it.
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JasparLamarCrabb12 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
STAR 80 is Bob Fosse's stunning, no holds barred account of the life and death of playmate Dorothy Stratten and her husband Paul Snider. It features a career making performance by Eric Roberts. As Snider, Roberts is electrifying. He's the most sadistic screen villain since Richard Widmark in KISS OF DEATH. Mariel Hemingway is fine as Stratten, a would be actress who had an affair with the director Peter Bogdanovich. Unfortunately she's dwarfed by Roberts. So are the supporting players: Roger Rees as a very Bogdanovich-like director, Carroll Baker as Stratten's mother, and Cliff Robertson as Hugh Hefner. Director Fosse utilizes the same interview like technique he used on LENNY and it works just as well here --- Baker is particularly good and has a number of heartfelt moments. STAR 80 is flashy, fast paced and not to be missed!

POSTSCRIPT: It turned out that Roberts would play the majority of his roles as he did Paul Snider. In movies like THE POPE OF GREENWICH VILLAGE and RUNAWAY TRAIN it was appropriate. In more subtle fare like RAGGEDY MAN it wasn't. Go figure!
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The Complexity Of Simplicity
dungeonstudio16 May 2017
I have to hand it to Bob Fosse for immortalizing not only Dorothy Stratten, but Lenny Bruce as well. (In Bob's other great movie 'Lenny' with Dustin Hoffman) What is it about these two people that attracted the intense attention of a choreographer like Fosse? In a word, I'd say it was 'rhythm'. Both these people went 'out of sync' with their otherwise preordained lives. Lenny decided to 'go blue' with his comedic material, and become the whipping boy for 'free speech'. While Dorothy was humble about her beauty, but saw the empowering opportunities it could give her. And interesting that Lenny was praised by the public for his comedic boldness, but hated by 'the system' of righteous puritanical authorities and outlets. Whereas Dorothy was scrutinized for her Playboy posing, but in her defense of it, 'the system' of entertainment pros and directors saw great potential in her. And as soon as the public realized 'Hey, these people are dancing to a different beat - but they're good at it' - they're sadly removed from the chorus line. And interesting that Lenny began to take himself and his charges way too seriously, while Dorothy and her rising success wasn't taken seriously enough by herself. Had Lenny been a little more 'laissez-faire' with the charges and controversy he caused, he may have lived a long and successful life? Had Dorothy taken heed to Hef's and others advice that she'd be better off without Paul, she too may have had a long and successful life? Either way, I don't think either died in vane. And again, kudos to Bob for putting these otherwise less than favorable and forgettable people as the unwitting pioneers that they were. Not that Lenny Bruce single handed made comedy 'sleazy'. Or that Dorothy Stratten innocently made pornography 'respectable'. But there are those today that would ignorantly say 'they got what they deserved'. And it's the grace of these two movies of Bob's to show how ultimately wrong they really are.
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Fosse's best
Milan28 September 2009
"Star 80" is a powerful film, the story may be distasteful but it's true. Fosse's unique style of film making is used to full potential here, and it's really sad that he didn't make less musicals and more thriller/dramas because he does it best. No brains but lot's of emotions in both principal characters paved the way to their self destruction and this is the ultimate rise and fall story of any star that burned out on a jet propelled climb to success. No matter what's the cause, drinking, drugs legal or illegal, violence, the end is always the same. Fosse shows that brilliantly cross cutting from bunch of clips of Stratten and Snider's past, in which the seeds of their volatile relationship are planted, to grow an ugly plant, fertilized on Snider's frustrations, fueling his anger that drowned them both in his whirlpool of self pity.

"Star 80" is along with "Lenny" the best of Bob Fosse's short but brilliant career.It surely deserves a better DVD transfer than it's 1998 Snap Case, Pan & Scan , 1.33:1, widescreen grainy look. Worth of repeated seeing.
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One of Hollywood's saddest tragedies!
bfjrnski9 August 2002
Star 80 tells the story of Dorothy Stratten pretty brutally and realistically!Maybe Mariel Hemingway dosen't exactly measure up to the rare beauty of Dorothy-but the actress pulls it off rather well!We the viewers are able to feel the naivety and innocence of Dorothy and how much the sleazy Paul Snider had a hold on her!The real star of the film is Eric Roberts!He brings to the role an understanding of the tortured and crazed man.We see Paul's obsession and inability to translate his love for her into anything healthy or productive!Of course the crazy and lurid Paul is incapable of loving! But through Eric Robert's performance we believe that he is at least suffering from his own sick delusions! Poor Dorothy died not really acknowleging just how dangerous Paul really was!Both to her and to himself!!!
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Fosse's Most Aggressive Movie Is Also His Most Unpleasant
evanston_dad18 March 2008
The slimy underbelly of the entertainment industry and the destruction that so often comes along with fame was a theme that lurked behind every movie Bob Fosse made, and it's at its most obvious and aggressively nasty in "Star 80."

Eric Roberts plays Paul Snider, a sleazy hood who discovered Playboy centerfold Dorothy Stratten and then murdered her and himself in an obsessive rage. It's a heartbreaking, violent and disturbing story on many levels; however, the saddest thing about it is that Stratten wouldn't be worth making a movie about if she hadn't been murdered in the first place. What does that tell you about the lure of celebrity?

Roberts gives a fierce performance as Snider -- he was a very good and almost completely overlooked actor. Mariel Hemingway plays Stratten, and she's rather vapid, which is all the role really requires. Fosse was not able to keep his cynicism and bile at bay, and so while the movie is accomplished, it's also downright unpleasant to sit through. It's as nihilistic as "All That Jazz" but without the flashy production numbers to add some variety.

Grade: B
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The American Dream Becomes The American Nightmare
gftbiloxi14 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Dorothy Stratten received considerable attention for her 1980 Playboy centerfold spread, which showcased her girl-next-door beauty and personality to remarkable effect. Most who knew her described her as a very sweet, kind, and strangely innocent young woman, and although her name as such was not well known to the public at large, many industry insiders felt she was on the fast-track to Hollywood stardom. We will never know if she could have made the career many expected of her, for little more than a year after her debut in Playboy her promoter, manager, and husband Paul Snider blew her head off with a shotgun.

Mariel Hemingway gives the performance of her career as Stratten, capturing the mixture of wholesome beauty and vulnerability that so many of Stratten's acquaintances described. But STAR 80 is actually less about Stratten than it is about Paul Snider, the small-time hustler who discovered, promoted, and married her--and then lost her through a combination of his own hysterical insecurity and her rising fame. Eric Roberts is simply bone-chilling in the role; it is a performance that should have earned him an Academy Award. The supporting cast is equally fine, with Cliff Robertson and Carroll Baker as Hugh Hefner and Dorothy's mother respectively. But the film goes beyond offering exceptional performances in a tragic story of promising youth cut short.

Director and writer Bob Fosse begins his story with Stratten's death and then presents the history of the Stratton-Snider relationship in a semi-documentary style through flashbacks and flash-forwards. The style serves him very well, for the film quickly develops such intensity that at times it becomes extremely difficult to watch. As it progresses, the story itself becomes a metaphor for hedonism of the 1970s surging into the 1980s: a poisonous mixture of superficial appearances, selfishness, user-mentalities, and disposability. As viewers, we are trapped in a count-down to death, unable to alter a single misstep in Stratten's final days and horrified by the inextoriable drift toward violence. The final ten minutes of the film are certainly among the most powerful, disturbing, and upsetting ever put to film.

STAR 80 proved too unpleasantly real for box office success. This is not an "entertaining" film. But it is a brilliantly done film, one undimmed by the passage of twenty years--and one that, sadly, will likely be as valid twenty years from now as it is today. Strongly recommended.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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On The Outside Looking In
Lechuguilla23 January 2012
Consider this film concept. An ordinary young man with big dreams discovers a beautiful young woman working as an order-taker in a burger joint. He instantly sees her glamor potential. He convinces her that she could be a Playboy model. They leave their hometown and move to Hollywood. He becomes her manager.

Then later, Hollywood in general, and Hugh Hefner in particular, accept the young woman, but want nothing to do with the young man. But that's not consistent with the young man's dream of becoming a flashy Hollywood big shot. He feels slighted, rejected. And "they" have taken his love away from him. The result is tragic.

That's the underlying premise of "Star 80", the true-life story of the young woman, Playboy model Dorothy Stratten (Mariel Hemingway), and the young man, Paul Snider (Eric Roberts). Writer/Director Bob Fosse tells the story from the POV of Snider. And the film's structure consists of one long flashback, from the final sequence. Various characters along the way offer their take on Stratten and Snider.

The film portrays Stratten as innocent, naïve, shy, polite, confused, overly trusting, and a tad vacuous. Snider, part-time photographer and small-time huckster, comes across initially as a jerk. Oily and flashy-looking, he ingratiates himself to Hefner (Cliff Robertson) and other Hollywood insiders. But it doesn't work. Eventually, his possessiveness of Stratten and jealousy of her insider connections, combined with Hollywood's rejection of him, leave him emotionally unbalanced, desperate, and ultimately psychotic.

The film's production values are fine. Eric Roberts, with his very large mouth, not only physically resembles the real Paul Snider, but also exudes behavior and an inner sense of self, consistent with what we would expect of Snider. Mariel Hemingway gives a fine performance as Stratten. I thought Robertson's performance as Hefner was a little flat.

While the film is mostly a character study of Stratten and Snider, it also gives us a glimpse into a ruthless and cruel Tinseltown, where dreams can easily morph into nightmares. To an outsider wanting in, the best advice is ... approach the beast with distrust and caution.
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Fickle Food On A Shifting Plate.
Robert J. Maxwell21 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
A small-time promoter, Paul Snider (Roberts) of low-taste runs across a shy, nice-looking waitress, Dorothy Stratten (Hemingway), in Vancouver and decides she'd make a good property, so he does what small-time promoters do. He takes Stratten to Los Angeles, the Cardo and Decumanus of good taste, and promotes her.

After having her glossed up like an actress in a skin flick, he insinuates her into the Playboy mansion by means of photo images alone. Hefner (Robertson) is impressed by her, as who wouldn't be? Hefner is impressed with her figure and her utterly guileless personality. He's less impressed with Paul Snider who, unlike Hef himself, sophisticated in the most bourgeois way imaginable, has the aesthetics of a pimp -- overdressed, fawning, boasting of his talent and his property.

At this point the American Dream begins to hit some chuck holes. Stratten is like an empty vessel waiting to be filled. Snider has been doing a fine job of animating her but, the more time Stratten spends at the mansion, the more she begins to reflect the values (and repeat the phrases) of Hefner, who strolls around with his pipe and bathrobe, Master of Playgirls, embodiment of 1950s' radical conformity.

It gets worse. While roller skating as part of a horde of guests, she's spotted by a movie director, Aram Nicholas (Rees), whose name in real life as Peter Bogdanovitch. Nicholas whisks her off to make a movie in New York, leaving Snider behind in L.A. dreaming of small triumphs, like a Dorothy Stratten Gymnasium. The inevitable happens, with the loving couple, now married, drawing farther apart and Stratten beginning to repeat the phrases of Nicholas instead of Hefner.

This is all driving Snider nuts back in L.A. It DOES drive him nuts. The ending is tragic.

The writer and director, Bob Fosse, uses a technique similar to the one he used in "Lennie," a series of interviews with people who knew Snider and Stratten. (All are actors, not the actual persons.) Eric Roberts gives a splendid performance as the ambitious and possessive "manager" and husband. The guy is pathetic. When he meets Stratten for the last time, he tells her, "Boy, am I nervous. I must have combed my hair a dozen times." He's mercurial. He can change in a moment from sobbing out apologies to screaming in a murderous rage. He chews the scenery. He chews the carpets. He chews everything. And he does a great job of suggesting the despair beneath the bravado.

Marial Hemingway as Stratten does a good job as well. She's presented as sweet, normal, a little dumb. And Hemingway gives her a little-girl voice that invites nurturance leavened with lust.

The dynamics we see, social and psychological, are absolutely believable, if one word were to be used. All of us have felt something of what we see on the screen. Stratten was a victim, no question, but Snider was something more than a snarling villain.

Bogdanovitch, who was in love with Stratten, hated the movie. Hemingway was too big and gawky. Snider didn't deserve to have his side of the story shown. And the actor who plays Bogdanovitch had no grasp of the real character. Bogdanovitch wrote a book about the whole affair and donated the royalties to Stratten's family.

There really isn't much TO celebrity, as the film shows. Fickle food on a shifting plate, as Emily Dickenson put it. After the murder, Hefner is seen eagerly picking over slides for the next Playmate of the Month. If she had lived, Stratten today would have been one of the footnote people of history, but she might have had a life no less satisfying than those of the rest of us.
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Bob Fosse's Last Classic!!
njmollo5 April 2010
Although many find the subject matter of Star 80 distasteful, there is no getting away from the fact that this is a brilliant piece of film making.

The low rating this film has on IMDb is due to the uncompromising and macabre story concerning the murder of playmate Dorothy Stratten by her ex-lover Paul Snider yet on a technical level, Star 80 is an example of bravura filmmaking.

Eric Roberts gives a powerhouse performance, which should have been highly rewarded and Mariel Hemmingway has never been better.

The continuing neglect of Bob Fosse's disturbing classic is reflected in the fact that no DVD version is available in Europe or America.

As a director Bob Fosse was uncompromising and Star 80 is an uncompromising interpretation of the desire for fame. This desire for fame can make people do sick things. This idea in itself is the reason Star 80 is so neglected and rejected.

This is the last film by Bob Fosse and clearly shows what a master of the medium he had become. In fact Bob Fosse, with only five films to his credit, can arguably be regarded as one of the greatest film Director's the movie industry has ever seen.

Highly recommended and due for reevaluation.
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Portrait Of A Sleazebag
sddavis6318 December 2009
"Star 80" is based on the book "Portrait Of A Playmate," about the life and eventual murder of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten. I've never read the book, but if the movie is anywhere near an accurate representation of it, then it's mistitled. The story here has far more to do with Paul Snider - the sleazebag who "discovered" Dorothy, married her and eventually murdered her.

There are excellent performances from the two leads in this movie. Mariel Hemingway did a good job of developing Dorothy - from the naive, innocent and shy young waitress who's still finishing high school in Vancouver to the worldly playmate and budding film star. Even in terms of looks, she was perfectly cast. I checked out some images of Stratten on the internet, and the resemblance between the two is eerie. As good as Hemingway was, though, Eric Roberts as Paul stole the show. He developed the character brilliantly, from the street-wise manipulator who may have been using Stratten but who nevertheless did seem to care for her into a guy who was interested only in controlling her and getting what he could out of her, losing his grip on sanity as a result when she finally broke away from him and wouldn't even consider a reconciliation.

The movie is interestingly structured. There are disturbing images from the beginning of Paul, having just committed the bloody murder, still talking to Dorothy's body, there are reflections from those who knew Paul and Dorothy (played by actors) about the events leading up to the murder, and a pretty good dramatized account of their relationship and how it fell apart as Dorothy moved into a different circle of people while Paul was never accepted. The most interesting thing about this is that even though Paul is depicted as a total sleazebag, there's a certain sympathy that you feel for him as he loses Dorothy, if only because he was responsible for her success in a way and it seems that he really did love her - albeit it in that warped, obsessive, controlling and therefore unhealthy and ultimately destructive sense that so many of these stories revolve around.

This is a really interesting movie. 8/10
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Wonderfully acted & hauntingly real.
fluna103015 February 2008
This movie like some others ranks as one of my favorites. Mariel Hemmingway and Eric Roberts turn in some excellent acting work in this movie. Star 80 tells the story about a young girl from Vancouver & how her sleze of a boyfriend pushes her into becoming a Playboy Playmate. In my opinion (for what it's worth), Dorothy Stratten & her beauty rivals that of my dreamgirl....Marilyn Monroe only that Dorothy is from a time period in which I was a teen in the late 70's to the early 80's ....more modern I guess. Anyways, the movie Star 80 & with its wonderful actors demonstrates how a person can become obsessed & manipulative with a very pretty girl and ...well basically go over the edge. I just recently got the DVD version after my 1st. edition VHS started to show its age so, I don't play the tape anymore. In retrospect, although Eric Roberts does an Outstanding job as Paul Snyder, Mariel Hemmingway not only is Outstanding as Dorothy Stratten, she is also very beautiful & very respectful on posing like Dorothy in her photo shoots. Although Mariel Hemmingway has acted in many other movies, this one & Personal Best are my favorites from this actor. Yes, Star 80 is not only wonderfully acted but also hauntingly real in its storyline. If you haven't added this movie to your collection it DVD or VHS, get it while it is still available. Enjoy!!
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My favorite movie on the dark side of relationships
entschuldigen15 January 2007
I saw Star 80 back in the mid 80's on television. They edited a lot but it still remained potent then. I bought the movie in the 90's at local retail store. I must have watched it a dozen times. I was even more memorized by the character of Paul played by Eric. I liked how it was told from Fosse's view point about how Paul might have felt. I can see how those in the upper crowd didn't like him. His was mean, immature and just plain weird. Paul didn't really love Dorothy. He loved himself. The tragic part of this is that Dorothy loved Paul enough to be sympathy for his failures. He uses her heart only to kill her. What I like most about the film is that it shows the darker side of relationships. Anyone who is dating a Paul like character needs to see the film. It just might save their life!
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