Brenda Starr (film)

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Brenda Starr
U.S. theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Ellis Miller
Produced by Myron A. Hyman
Written by Noreen Stone &
James D. Buchanan (screenplay)
Jenny Wolkind (aka Delia Ephron) (screenplay)
Noreen Stone &
James D. Buchanan (story)
Dale Messick (characters)
Music by Johnny Mandel
Cinematography Freddie Francis
Peter Stein
Edited by Mark Melnick
Distributed by Triumph Releasing Corporation
Release date
May 15, 1989 (France)
April 15, 1992 (USA)
Running time
93 min
Country United States
Language English
Budget $16,000,000[1]
Box office $67,878

Brenda Starr is a 1989 adventure film, based on Dale Messick's Brenda Starr comic strip. The film was directed by Robert Ellis Miller, and stars Brooke Shields, Timothy Dalton, and Jeffrey Tambor.[2]


Mike is a struggling artist who draws the Brenda Starr comic strip for a newspaper. When Brenda comes to life and sees how unappreciated she is by Mike, she leaves the comic. To return her to her rightful place and keep his job, Mike draws himself into the strip.

Within her fictional world, Brenda Starr is an ace reporter for the New York Flash. She is talented, fearless, and smart, and a very snappy dresser. The only competition she has is from the rival paper's top reporter, Libby Lipscomb.

Brenda heads to the Amazon jungle to find a scientist with a secret formula, which will create cheap and powerful fuel from ordinary water. There, she must steal the formula from her competition and foreign spies.


The project originally envisioned Jessica Lange as Brenda Starr. Other actresses considered were Anjelica Huston, Melanie Griffith, and finally Brooke Shields.[citation needed]

Postproduction and release[edit]

The film was shot in 1986; however, it was not released for three years, due to lengthy litigation over distribution rights.[3][4]

When the film was released in the United States in 1992, it bombed at the box office, making $30,000 in its first week.[5] Negative reviews were blamed and the film was pulled from theatres shortly after its theatrical distribution.[6]

Brooke Shields later recalled she "loved" making the film:

I was so thrilled that it was happening. I think in hindsight the problem was that it was never backed by a studio. It was [Menahem] Golan and [Yoram] Globus, and it was all sort of fishy to begin with. We also were the first of that kind of comic-book movie, and unfortunately it took seven years to get released, by which point Batman and Dick Tracy and every other superhero and cartoon-inspired movie had already come. We were originally going to be part of that first batch. I always thought it was unfortunate, because the idea and the cast were both so good. Timothy Dalton! But the direction fell short, and it got legally tied up, so to me it was such a shame. I think that movie could’ve been… It was really fun, and I thought it was unique. And I loved playing that character. She’s still one of my favorites. [7]


The film received scathing reviews.

Owen Gleiberman, of Entertainment Weekly, graded the film F, stating that Brenda "... comes off as a giggly (if spectacularly elongated) high school princess" and that Brenda Starr "is so flaccid and cheap-looking, so ineptly pieced together, that it verges on the avant-garde. I suspect they won't even like it in France." [8]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film an equally negative review, writing, "There's been so much negative insider buzz about Brooke's 'Brenda' that you might be harboring a hope that the damned thing turned out all right. Get over it. 'Brenda' is not as bad as the also-rans that Hollywood traditionally dumps on us before Labor Day ... it's a heap worse."[9]

The New York Times' Janet Maslin commented, "This would-be comic romp is badly dated in several conspicuous ways. Its cold war villains are embarrassingly outré (even allowing for the film's 1940's look, in keeping with the peak popularity of Brenda Starr as a comic strip heroine) ... most dated of all is Brenda herself, the "girl reporter" who worries chiefly about not running her stockings or breaking her high heels, and who in one scene actually uses a black patent leather handbag as a secret weapon." [10]

Pamela Bruce, of The Austin Chronicle, was highly critical of the film: "After gathering dust for five years, some studio executive decided that there just isn't enough dreck in the world and decided to unleash Brenda Starr upon us poor, unsuspecting mortals."[11]

Home video[edit]

The film, rated PG, was released on both VHS[12] and DVD[13] formats.

The DVD version is available for purchase in two variations; one for all regions and another for region 2. The film is presented in Full Frame, 1.33:1 format, with English Dolby Digital Stereo sound.[14]


  1. ^ "'Brenda Starr' Looks Like Bad News At The Box Office". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  2. ^ Maslin, Janet. "Brenda Starr". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-10-28. 
  3. ^ 'Brenda Starr' movie review, Entertainment Weekly
  4. ^ Rempel, William C.; Rabin, Jeffrey L. (1991-09-01). "Movie Deal Portrays BCCI as a 'Personal Piggy Bank' : Scandal: Involvement in 'Brenda Starr' film sheds light on firm's relationships with the rich and royal.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  5. ^ Fox, David J. (1992-04-21). "Weekend Box Office". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Movie Review: Brenda Starr". Entertainment Weekly. 1992-05-01. 
  9. ^ "Rolling Stone Movies | Movie Reviews". Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  10. ^ Maslin, Janet (1992-04-19). "Review/Film; Shields As Intrepid Reporter". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ Archived from the original on June 13, 2006. Retrieved December 15, 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "Brenda Starr [1989] [VHS]: Brooke Shields, Timothy Dalton, Tony Peck, Diana Scarwid, Charles Durning, Jeffrey Tambor, Eddie Albert, June Gable, Kathleen Wilhoite, Robert Ellis Miller: Video". Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  13. ^ "Brenda Starr [DVD]: Brooke Shields, Timothy Dalton, Tony Peck, Diana Scarwid, Nestor Serrano, Jeffrey Tambor, June Gable, Charles Durning, Kathleen Wilhoite, John Short, Eddie Albert, Mark von Holstein, Robert Ellis Miller, Alana H. Lambros, John D. Backe, Michael Tadross, Dale Messick, James D. Buchanan, Jenny Wolkind, Noreen Stone: Film & TV". Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  14. ^ Archived from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved December 15, 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]