The Star is a peculiar movie in Bette Davis‘ filmography.
It earned her an Academy Award nomination, but also some of the worst reviews of her career. Some may say that the film is a “stain” on an otherwise flawless movie career by Davis, but I believe it’s probably the most interesting.
The plot is fairly simple, it’s your typical Tinsel town story about an out of work film star and her struggles to keep hold of the fame that she once had.
Seeing as this film stars Davis, I find it hard to believe that movie doesn’t have parallels to the real-life crossroads Davis was feeling at the time.
Bette Davis has just turned the dreaded age of 44.
In classic Hollywood terms, that means she’s well past her ‘expiration’ date. Not unlike Joan Crawford (who The Star‘s script is inspired by), Davis was at a turning point in her career.
After rising to fame in the 30s, winning two Oscars and enjoying the bulk of her success in the 40s, Davis only made 10 films in 1950s, with All About Eve being the standout.
It appeared to be a theme in Davis‘ later career to choose scripts that had aging actresses in the beginning stages of a mid-life crisis; The Star is another example of this.
Co-starring alongside Sterling Hayden and Natalie Wood, Davis once called the film’s script, “one of the best ever written about a movie-mad actress.”
It’s funny that she would say that.
Even though Davis has been quoted multiple times saying the script is based on the ‘many faces of Joan Crawford‘ she could’ve easily been talking about herself.
Both she and Crawford were known to be rivals during their hay-day, but what if The Star was indicative of a larger problem that both women were facing at the time.
Hollywood has never been kind to older actresses. The studio system during the ‘Golden Age’ was no exception to this phenomenon.
The Star portrayed the lengths that someone would go through just to hold on to the last vestiges of fame they had left.
By 1952, Bette Davis was in the same predicament. Struggling to find work and deemed, washed up by Hollywood, she grappled with producers, forcing her way into any every script she could find.
The Star reflected the struggles of not only Bette Davis, but every actress of the age of 35. The movie might’ve done poorly at the box office, but its importance goes far beyond any critical and commercial praise.
It brought a sensitive subject out to the open, it broke a taboo and that’s why this movie is so important, even though some critics might not think so.