The Rose

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The Rose (1979)

Directed by Mark Rydell

Written by Bo Goldman, Bill Kerby, Marvin Worth

Starring: Bette Midler, Alan Bates, Frederic Forrest, Harry Dean Stanton

A self-destructive rock star (Midler) deals with the pressures of fame and the music business.

This movie was directed by Mark Rydell (The Long Goodbye), who would later be nominated for an Oscar for his work on On Golden Pond. This script was written by Bo Goldman (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest), Bill Kerby (Hooper), and Marvin Worth (See No Evil, Hear No Evil). The movie stars Bette Midler (For the Boys), Alan Bates (Women in Love), Frederic Forrest (The Conversation), and Harry Dean Stanton (Alien).

This is a fascinating story, taking a deep and sometimes troubling look at the entertainment business. The writing does a great job of immediately creating the onstage persona of Mary Rose Foster. This allows for the film to move back and forth between her public life and her personal troubles. The film also surrounds her with fascinating people who all seem to want something from her. Some of these characters are likeable, while others seem despicable and greedy. The central story in this one is sentimental, sad, and sometimes funny. The payoffs are solid, and there are some interesting twists throughout the story. While the story might focus on one star, there is a bigger theme that really resonates throughout the film. Overall, it’s a unique script that translates well onto the screen.

Bette Midler gives one of her best performances in one of her earliest roles. Her musical talent was already established, and this film proved that she could act. Her performance is gritty and intense, but also very fun. Her performance brings this tired and conflicted title character an energy that permeates the entire film. She also has incredible chemistry with Alan Bates and Frederic Forrest. Midler earned her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her work in this one. Bates does a very good job countering Midler’s energetic performance with one of his own. Frederic Forrest provides a strong performance that balances out the film. He also develops great chemistry with Midler that’s essential to the movie. He also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Despite being one of the smaller performances in the film, Harry Dean Stanton really does something great with his part. Overall, there isn’t a cast member in the movie that doesn’t deliver. This film creates a unique version of an unseen world thanks to all of the actors and musicians involved.

This movie had the challenging task of bringing the life of a touring artist to the big screen. The film uses great sets, locations, and art direction to make this happen. The costuming also does a lot to add authenticity to the story. Legendary cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (The Deer Hunter) took all of these aspects and found the right place for the camera to be. The film earned an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing. This combination of visual aspects pays off in a film that looks great even after almost 40 years. The film also has sound work that allows the live concert feel to work itself into the movie. Instead of a clean audio track, the crowd noise and concert speaker imperfections are a part of the experience. This one also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Sound for the great work done.

This is an incredible movie that captures a musical era that is likely never to return. It also manages to document the dangers and pitfalls of the industry. This is a gritty movie that doesn’t attempt to look away from the harsher moments. The performances are great, and fans of the stars need to see this one. I would also suggest this one to fans of drama or music. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.

Rating: R

Running Time: 125 Minutes

If you’d like to see this one you should check out the release by the Criterion Collection. It’s a beautiful transfer with a lot of great extras. Click on the poster below for more info. 

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