Monday, August 6, 2018
Three years after the murder-suicide, Bob Fosse made Star 80, a reference to Snider's vanity plate on his Mercedes Benz. Fosse was no stranger in depicting the cost of fame, be it fictional (Cabaret), factual (Lenny) or semiautobiographical (All That Jazz). But when it's a story that ends in bloodshed, that's where comparisons to his work end.
The film may be based on real events but several names and details were changed, some of them for legal purposes. A number of Stratten's real-life acting jobs were re-titled but the most telling tweak is that Aram Nicholas (Roger Rees) is clearly Peter Bogdonavich, whom Stratten was having an affair with at the time of her murder. (Bogdonavich himself -- who called the film inaccurate -- didn't want Fosse to tell this story because Fosse didn't know the full extent of it.)
Mariel Hemingway may be (pardon the expression) the star attraction of Star 80 but Eric Roberts is the real main draw. By many accounts, Snider was as much of a hustler in real life as he's depicted here. And boy, Roberts really knows how to sleaze it up. (Hugh Hefner even said Roberts was dead-on in his portrayal.)
Star 80 has that lingering sadness to it, knowing that Stratten's successes are tarnished by her ultimate fate. If anything, it serves as a how-to for identifying relationship red flags. Had Stratten known them early on in her courtship with Snider, she might be alive today...
My Rating: ****1/2