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Paul Snider is a narcissistic, small time hustler who fancies himself a ladies man. His life changes when he meets Dorothy Stratten working behind the counter of a Dairy Queen. Dorothy is a pretty but naive high school senior. Paul immediately falls for Dorothy, who sees in Paul a wise, worldly person unlike herself. Paul believes Dorothy is Playboy material, the magazine he sees as only a springboard to bigger and better things. Paul's dream does become a reality: not only does Dorothy eventually marry him, she becomes the August 1979 Playboy Playmate and ultimately Playboy Playmate of 1979, which does indeed lead to the start of an acting career. As Dorothy's star rises, Paul's life is one of a hanger-on as those in Dorothy's new circle, including Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner and movie director Aram Nicholas, don't much like Paul. Paul is unable to eke out a life of his own without using Dorothy's name, which she increasingly is reluctant to provide to her husband. Those that know ...Written by
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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