The Star (1952 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stuart Heisler|
|Produced by||Bert E. Friedlob|
|Written by||Katherine Albert
|Music by||Victor Young|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$1 million (US)|
The Star is a 1952 American drama film directed by Stuart Heisler and starring Bette Davis, Sterling Hayden and Natalie Wood. The plot tells the story of a washed up actress who is desperate to restart her career. Even though the film was a critical and commercial failure, Bette Davis received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Academy Award-winning star Margaret "Maggie" Elliot (Bette Davis) is a bankrupt actress unwilling to accept her new non-wealthy reality. She is in denial, and confident she can build herself up again and somehow fix her career. After she gets another big deception striving to get that last one good role, she gets drunk, is arrested for DUI, and spends a night in jail. She is bailed out by Jim Johannsen (Sterling Hayden), a young former actor whom she helped in the past. Jim loves her and, helped by Margaret's daughter Gretchen (Natalie Wood), tries to make Margaret see that her big screen days as a famous actress are already over. She manages to get a screen test for a role in a film she'd always wanted to play. She is offered a screen test for a supporting role which she accepts, trusting that if she plays that character as a sexy young woman she might be able to get the best part, but it does not work out.
At a Hollywood party, she is offered a role in a new film about a falling star who can't face the fact that it's all over. This new script is dedicated to washed-up actors and actresses who are obsessed by their former glory, by what they used to look like, what kind of an impression they’d make, demanding, bribing, ambitious for power, to stay on top, those who can't look down and can't accept that their moment of glory is over and that the world has passed them by; this script changes Margaret's life. It finally makes her realize that her film career is indeed over, and she returns home to the open arms of Jim, and the love and acceptance of her daughter, from whom Margaret had previously desperately attempted to shield her own stalled career.
- Bette Davis as Margaret Elliot
- Sterling Hayden as Jim Johannsen
- Natalie Wood as Gretchen
- Warner Anderson as Harry Stone
- Minor Watson as Joe Morrison
- June Travis as Phyllis Stone
- Paul Frees as Richard Stanley
- Robert Warrick as R.J., Aging Actor at Party
- Barbara Lawrence as Herself
- Fay Baker as Margaret's sister
- Herb Vigran as Roy
Katherine Albert and her husband Dale Eunson reportedly based the Margaret Elliott character on Joan Crawford, whose long friendship with the couple was ending as production began. Although it is sometimes said that she turned the role down, it was never offered to her. Bette Davis, who long publicly disdained Crawford, thus eagerly took it.
Crawford retaliated after the Eunsons sent their 17-year-old daughter Joan Evans (actress) to the actress in the hope the older woman would talk her out of getting married to a man they disapproved of. Instead of doing so, Crawford arranged the wedding, held it in her house, and called the Eunsons afterwards to tell them about it. "She set the whole thing up behind our backs," Albert complained. "She called the judge, and the press. She didn't invite us to our own daughter's wedding."