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The Explosion of Eric Roberts
filmquestint6 February 2005
Whitin this shockingly beautiful docudrama there is a performance by Eric Roberts that goes beyond anything we had ever seen an actor do on screen. He explodes in front of our eyes. Fearless, horrible, pathetic, sad but above all truthful. With the kind of truth we're not use to deal with. I was horrified because I understood it, like James Mason in Lolita. I'm not sympathising with him but I'm understanding him. The counterpart to Roberts's human monster is not Mariel Hemigway's beautiful Dorothy Stratten but Carroll Baker as Dorothy's mother. We can tell by looking into her face that she knows. She knows,she senses, she fears to be right because there is so little she can do. Carroll Baker's superb portrayal represents us. We dread what she dreads and like her, we're impotent to the unavoidable. Star 80 is a masterpiece. Like all of Bob Fosse's work, nothing is casual. The puzzle that he presents us with, connects the dots in a twisted, although immediately recognisable, pattern, leading inexorably to the most excruciating domestic tragedy. From Othelo to O J Simpson. Our every day horror served cold as a shattering work of art.
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Eric Roberts best performance.
yenlo3 December 1999
Eric Roberts was clearly the `STAR' of Star 80. His performance as the self proclaimed Gods gift to Women character Paul Snider is really what makes this film. He makes the viewer take an instant dislike to him from his opening scene and carries it all the way through. Mariel Heminways portrayal of the ill fated Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten is maybe lukewarm marginal. Cliff Robertson is cast as Hugh Hefner but somehow doesn't seem right for the role.

Sadly this was in fact a true tragic story. See it for no other reason than Eric Roberts superb portrayal of the seven letter word usually considered vulgar meaning a stupid, incompetent or detestable person boyfriend/husband/manager of Dorothy Stratten. Vastly superior to the alternate version 1981's Death of A Centerfold.
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Eric Roberts is absolutely incredible
PILBOW17 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the best movies of all time. It was made by Bob Fosse and is in the same pseudo documentary style as LENNY, also by Fosse. STAR 80 is about Dorothy Stratten, a playboy playmate who is killed by her husband. But the movie centers more on the boyfriend turned husband, played by Eric Roberts. What's amazing about this movie is that you actually feel for Robert's character, Paul Snider. He is such an incredible actor that you really see a human side to Snider. He's a liar, and a cheater, and conman, but human nonetheless. You follow Snider before he meets Stratten, during her rise, and for a few short minutes, after her death. This movie is really about him, and is an incredible study on a deranged and jealous human being, who felt that who he had 'discovered' was being taken away from him. If you are familiar with the true story about Stratten, and if you haven't seen anything about it, the director character who Dorothy falls in love with towards the end - eventually setting off Snider - is really Peter Bogdonavitch. The movie he is making with Dorothy is "They All Laughed", a favorite film of Quentin Tarantino. Cliff Robertson, as Hugh Hefner, is terrific. Hefner's real life brother plays a photographer and, although his screen time is minimal, he gives a very good performance and has a funny line. I also liked the actor who played Snider and Stratton's friend, a plastic surgeon who they shared a mansion with. His character adds insight to the real Paul Snider just by being his friend who Snider can confide in. All in all, this is a great movie. What really works is how Fosse mixes the documentary style with narrative. It never gets boring and is always very entertaining as you go in and out, and back and forth, from past to present, and it never gets confusing. You follow Stratten's rise to stardom, but are really centering on how this quick rise burst Paul Snider's plastic bubble. Snider was a beast of a human being, but, it takes an incredible actor like Eric Roberts to show his human side... faltering as it is. You will, watching this, wonder both what happened to Eric Roberts (and why he really only appears in cable movies lately) and why he wasn't nominated for an Oscar. Or Bob Fosse for that matter. This is one of his best all-time films, as it's one of the best movies of all time, period. You just have to watch it, experience it, and, most importantly, for young beautiful girls who might get hustled by con men promising you the 'good life' ("You'll be a star"), you can LEARN from this movie as well, just as you'll wish that Stratten herself had had this movie to show her the way out of her horrible fate.
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Worth watching for Eric Roberts
Ajtlawyer21 June 2002
This was probably Eric Roberts' best movie. He steals the show as the sleazy, small-time hustler Paul Snider. Snider aches to be the big-shot, the real "Star 80" but is a failure at everything he tries---except when he gets Dorothy Stratten recognized by Playboy. Then, just as things might break through for them, Dorothy dumps him for a film director (in real life, Peter Bogdanovich). Of course we know the rest---sleazeball Snider kills Dorothy and himself.

Bogdanovich wrote a scathing book about the case, "Death of the Unicorn" in which he lam basts Hugh Hefner (no more invitations to the mansion for him). What is really weird is that Bogdanovich later married Dorothy Stratten's younger sister, who was in junior high when Dorothy was killed.
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one of the few great films from the 80's
buby198717 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Star 80 is about many things, but above all it is about the dark side of the American Dream. It is a counterpart to Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, because it depicts the disillusionment and self-destruction of a self-made man.

Snider believes in the American Dream, that if you outwork and out-hustle everyone else, and have a marketable product to hawk, you will be successful. It so happens that Snider's product is sex. Snider rises up through sheer determination (visually depicted in the opening work out scene, in which he pumps iron and does push-ups until he's on the verge of having a stroke). It also helps that Snider has no moral principles that hold him back.

Paul achieves the pinnacle of his desires when he gets to visit the Playboy Mansion. He not only gets the opportunity to socialize with Playboy Bunnies, but he gets to meet his spiritual father -- Hugh Hefner. Hefner is another self-made man who has turned sex into a big business, but unlike Snider, he is socially respectable.

But Paul blows it when he gets too familiar with Hefner. Hefner takes an instant dislike to Paul. As Dorothy rises up the food chain in Hollywood, getting roles in TV and in film, Paul finds himself banished from the charmed circle of Hefner's Mansion and he thereby self-destructs. All of his projects -- opening a male dance club, trying to get a waitress bimbo into the Mansion to meet Hef -- are failures. His wife drifts away from him, having an affair with her director.

Paul is out of his element in L.A., and soon crashes and burns. Fosse provides imagery and conceits of "falllng" and "crashing" -- such as the scene when the loan sharks dangle Paul out of 14-story hotel window, and Fosse's camera swish-pans sideways and downwards to give us an uneasy sense of vertigo and impending doom. This motif continues in the carnival scene, as Fosse inserts quick shots of amusement park rides whipping downward and sideways. There is even a doll perched precariously on a book shelf in Aram's office -- probably a symbol of Dorothy. There is also a telling line of dialog, when Dorothy's mother asks Paul what he will do if she doesn't sign the consent form, and Paul says, "I'll jump out a window." In the final rape/murder/suicide scene, there is an emphasis on falling -- and the final shot looks down from high above, at two dead, bloody bodies that seem to have dropped into Hell.

Fosse's use of pop music is superb, and revelatory. "Big Shot" by Billy Joel is about egomania fueled by coke, and not only does Paul want to be a big shot in Hollywood, he takes the ultimate "big shot" when he blows his brains out with a Mossberg shotgun. The Band's "Up On Cripple Creek" tells about a man who lives off his girlfriend. There is a lyric about betting on a nag, which is visually underlined in another scene when Paul changes horses on a merry-go-round (further expressed when Paul "changes horses" by trying to turn a bimbo waitress into another Dorothy). Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are" provides ironic commentary. Paul is not only dissatisfied with himself, but he constantly strives to change Dorothy from a naive teen into a mature, sophisticated woman -- and he succeeds too well, as Dorothy grows up and realizes she must get away from him. Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" is appropriate, as it provides auditory reinforcement of Paul's eager desire to please and make a good impression.

There is a lot of thought put into the film. Geb is not merely a doctor, he is a plastic surgeon, and has moved to West L.A. to flourish in his trade. His profession is all too apt in a world in which surface appearance is everything. He also gives the key speech in the film, in which he reminds Paul that in L.A., "There's always going to be someone with more money than you, someone with a longer penis than you." That last observation really gets to Paul. He feels grossly inadequate and must overcompensate in every situation. Geb also makes the questionable claim that the Rolls in his garage is just an investment, rather than an emblem of conspicuous consumption.

The film has a Shakespearean quality. Hefner is the King, Dorothy is the Princess, Aram is the Prince, and Paul is the Bastard. People like Geb are the loyal attendants in the King's court. Some, like Aram, are bestowed with the favor of the King, while others are dispatched into exile. Paul can't take the rejection, and kills Dorothy and himself. If the sexual revolution was really a Pandora's Box, then Paul is one of the demons let loose to hover ominously over the orgy.
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Eric Roberts dominates.
Hermit C-219 May 1999
Eric Roberts stole the show big time in this movie. He created one of the most despicable characters in all movie history, the small-time hustler Paul Snider. From the moment early on in the film when he's seen practicing his falsely sincere greetings in a mirror, the viewer takes an instant dislike to him. As he manipulates the naive and beautiful Dorothy Stratton (Mariel Hemingway) for his own selfish purposes the feeling gets almost exponentially larger. Hemingway is unlucky in a way to have to go up against such a dominating performance. She can't hope to match it, but she does a good enough job to make the film work. Cliff Robertson is excellent in the role of Hugh Hefner, which probably wasn't an easy situation, given that that man is both a well-known figure yet still a mysterious legend to some. Contrary to what a lot of people thought, I don't think Hefner came out looking that badly in the way that he was portrayed. This was a sad and ugly story but he wasn't the villain.

The movie serves as an epitaph to an ordinary young woman with extraordinary beauty who never had a chance once she got in the clutches of such a self-serving user. For me the most painfully sad moment in the movie came when Dorothy's mother (Carroll Baker) contemptuously tells Snider, "She never even used to go around in her bathrobe before you came along."

This movie is obviously not a lot of laughs but it's still worthwhile, especially for the outstanding performance of Roberts.
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A Star is Born Comes of Age -- Chilling Account
kingk-316 May 2005
An excellent film. Fosse's direction is flawless as he takes us inside the world of a controller who loses his grip and power. Mariel is wonderful as Dorothy Statton. Eric Robert's performance is of Oscar Caliber quality -- his portrayal haunts you and you can see his weakness -- you hate him, but a part of you can almost feel sorry for him until his real intentions are suddenly realized. This film was very well-done and deserves to be seen. This was Fosse's last film and it deserves to be seen. From the first frame, one is drawn into a spiraling cycle of destruction. Mariel's performance is perfect as she creates the naive young girl who as she changes into a more wordly woman who wants to explore life and all the possibilities which are opening for her. Much like A Star Is Born, this account of one Hollywood partner gaining fame as another falls. Not for the squeamish.
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Disturbing and real...
MarieGabrielle9 August 2006
story. This film is most interesting because of the era it depicts; ("you are what you drive, you should have your first million by age 35") etc. The 80's are fun to look back on, but living it was not necessarily great, unless you could "keep up with the Joneses".

Eric Roberts is very believable as Paul Schneider, a promoter who met Dorothy Stratten (while she was a kid working at a local Dairy Queen, in Canada), brought her to Hollywood, and resented her eventual success. Her shooting star to fame resulted in eventual tragedy.

Mariel Hemingway is believable as Stratten, although the truly innocent act is a bit hard to buy. Cliff Robertson portrays Hugh Hefner, a faded figure today, but still virile in the 80's.

The Roberts character is initially sleazy, then desperate, then pathetic. Apparently Paul Schneider could not keep up with Stratten, became overly possessive, and jealous of her success. She became involved with director Peter Bogdanovich, and this was the beginning of the end for Schneider.

The back-story of Hollywood in general and the rat race to stay on top, is very accurately presented. Schneider eventually tried to steal Stratten's name, to license her name and profit from her. When she had had enough, and no longer needed him, he took her fate in his own hands. The finale is stark and realistic. 9/10.
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Achingly sad and terrifically acted.
triple829 January 2004
It's hard to do a review of a movie where the real life events are so tragic AND this movie is sad from the start because you know how it's gonna play out. I will say though that I have seen this many times and that it is a very well done, terrifically acted movie. Obviously, no matter how good this movie was I'd prefer it not to have ever been made because I'd prefer the real life events this is based on, never to have happened at all. Since it WAS made, however I can say without a doubt that the main cast members do their job-Roberts makes you hate,dispise him with a passion and Hemmingway is fragile, lovely and achingly sweet. I have no doubt how easy it was to get swept up in the glamourous lifestyle Stratton lived, I think most people would have myself included. Seeing the story enfold as it did, and knowing the final outcome, it's hard not to yell at the screen at the end,even knowing that you can't go back in time and change the events that happened. Dorothy Stratten was young and lovely and kindhearted and had her whole life in front of her-it's hard to say one "enjoyed" a movie where the ending was so tragic and in this case true so I won't say that. But it IS a movie I have seen more then once and would recomend wholeheartedly. VERY very welldone.
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Left a lasting impression
cityhawk31 January 2000
The movie isn't perfect, but I'm surprised at its relatively lukewarm ratings. I can't add too much to what the others here have said about Eric Roberts' performance (it was spectacular), but I'll add that this film stayed with me for a long time. I'd seen it on HBO back in 1984. Recently, I stumbled across it again. After watching it, it took days for the spell that the movie had on me to wane.
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Love and Hate
aminthepm200130 June 2005
When a performer can make you love and hate their character, feel pity, shame, worry, and all of the above simultaneously, that is great acting. Eric Roberts achieves all this and more ! Only Shirley Booth in "Come Back Little Sheba" and Eric Roberts in "Star 80" have had this kind of impact on me. Incredible film. Sort of off-topic now, but if you look closely, you will see "Victoria Porter" from "All That Jazz" as an auto show "hostess" and the dance mistress/choreographer's assistant, also from "ATJ" as a script supervisor during a movie filming scene. The entire film was very believable! Had a right here, right now feeling to it.
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Star 80: Noir of the 70s
Yellar2 November 1998
Before Boogie Nights or 54 there was Star 80. Star 80 is similar to these latter-made films in that it charts the rise and fall of a beautiful and naive youth. But much more so than those films, Star 80 is a dark film, saturated with the seething decadence of 1970s shag-carpeted hip celebrity culture. The film itself is not so blatantly pulse pounding in that head-tripping disco style characteristic of the 1970s, but it certainly evokes that feeling. The Southern California setting of the film pulsates in its strip joints and private duplexes, but our view of it, through the filmmakers' perspective, does not. We remain all-too aware of the conclusion of the film and fate of Dorothy Stratten. The filmmakers, to their credit, rouse our imaginations of the hip LA nightlife, by not revealing too much of the underbelly. The sense of displacement for both the doomed heroine, who is from Canada, and the audience is evoked by such cinematic techniques as scene-crossing voice-overs, still-image montages, and back-flashes. When the filmmakers let us see shots of a naked Playboy Bunny's corpse and let us hear her sweet, soft voice at the same time, the visual-aural juxtaposition is unsettling to our sense of continuity. We hate what we see, but like what we here. Even with the film's explicit nudity and outright sexual overtures, there is still a sense of unexplored quarters behind the glitzy veneer of Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion and LA's raunchy strip clubs. For example, Paul Snider is portrayed as the self-destructive lover/shadow to Dorothy Stratten, but little is known about his personal history. We get only casual remarks about his imprudent personality and of course what we see of him when he walks and talks onscreen. We, like the characters around him, must infer the rest about Paul Snider. The surface of the film is that there is no smooth surface, just a dark brooding landscape filled with the nooks and crannies of human emotion. Only a film this textural would resist painting Hugh Hefner in a superficial manner like the public media persona that precedes him. Underneath the silken pajamas and smug look of this sultan of playboys is a man who seems every bit as seedy as Paul Snider is. But money and confidence apparently can wash away a lot of dirt. For example, when Hugh Hefner silently refuses to entertain Paul's "business" ideas, we get a peek at how a highly self-assured man avoids engaging a darker mirror image of himself. The final scene is tragic, depressing and truly the antithesis of a traditional denouement; no tension is relieved. That's pretty amazing considering that the audience knows from the opening shot how the film will end. The scene is elaborately played out with Paul plummeting to the nadir of his obsession, plastering the walls of his apartment with glossy, air-brushed images of Dorothy Stratten in order to create some sort of sacrificial shrine for the young maiden. His altar, a homemade "workout" bench, introduced earlier in the film hints at his creepy, unplumbed psychology and perverse desire for control. If Star 80 had been made today, the final scene would have been portrayed in a trashy, over-dramatized "re-enactment" like those from the tabloid television shows. Star 80, which was made in the early 1980s, seems to have a more organic feel of its subject than Boogie Nights or 54. Because these films were made by jaded and introspective perceptions of the 1990s, it's reasonable to assume they don't have the immediacy and grasp that Star 80 has over the 1970s. It's much easier to make a film shortly after a certain time period when the era has been lived through and digested into the cultural subconscious. Although this is true for Boogie Nights and 54, the mood isn't as easily drawn out onto film because the interim gestation period was much longer than for Star 80. After all, civilization has recently persevered through the 1980s and most of 1990s both painfully and triumphantly. On the scale of time, this difference is insignificant, but the cultural gaps between the time of disco and the time of DVD are mind-bending.
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Intense and Disturbing
mrb19801 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This story follows the tragic story of Dorothy Stratten from her Vancouver home, to Playboy centerfold, to the beginnings of movie stardom, then to her violent death at the hands of her estranged husband, Paul Snider. There's no way to make this subject matter happy, so be prepared.

Because most viewers know how the story will end, watching this film is very chilling. In addition, Eric Roberts' disturbing (but authentic) performance as Paul Snider will stay with you for a long, long time. Mariel Hemingway stars as the young and innocent Stratten, while Cliff Robertson has the role of Hugh Hefner.

The final scene, filmed in the house where the murder actually took place, is very difficult to watch. The movie is very well directed and acted. Eric Roberts' performance should have resulted in an Oscar nomination, but no one who plays a character this creepy would ever be nominated. This very good movie will haunt you for days after you watch it.
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Fosse's best
mim-828 September 2009
"Star 80" is a powerful film, the story may be distasteful but it's true. Fosse's unique style of film making is used to full potential here, and it's really sad that he didn't make less musicals and more thriller/dramas because he does it best. No brains but lot's of emotions in both principal characters paved the way to their self destruction and this is the ultimate rise and fall story of any star that burned out on a jet propelled climb to success. No matter what's the cause, drinking, drugs legal or illegal, violence, the end is always the same. Fosse shows that brilliantly cross cutting from bunch of clips of Stratten and Snider's past, in which the seeds of their volatile relationship are planted, to grow an ugly plant, fertilized on Snider's frustrations, fueling his anger that drowned them both in his whirlpool of self pity.

"Star 80" is along with "Lenny" the best of Bob Fosse's short but brilliant career.It surely deserves a better DVD transfer than it's 1998 Snap Case, Pan & Scan , 1.33:1, widescreen grainy look. Worth of repeated seeing.
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The American Dream Becomes The American Nightmare
gftbiloxi14 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Dorothy Stratten received considerable attention for her 1980 Playboy centerfold spread, which showcased her girl-next-door beauty and personality to remarkable effect. Most who knew her described her as a very sweet, kind, and strangely innocent young woman, and although her name as such was not well known to the public at large, many industry insiders felt she was on the fast-track to Hollywood stardom. We will never know if she could have made the career many expected of her, for little more than a year after her debut in Playboy her promoter, manager, and husband Paul Snider blew her head off with a shotgun.

Mariel Hemingway gives the performance of her career as Stratten, capturing the mixture of wholesome beauty and vulnerability that so many of Stratten's acquaintances described. But STAR 80 is actually less about Stratten than it is about Paul Snider, the small-time hustler who discovered, promoted, and married her--and then lost her through a combination of his own hysterical insecurity and her rising fame. Eric Roberts is simply bone-chilling in the role; it is a performance that should have earned him an Academy Award. The supporting cast is equally fine, with Cliff Robertson and Carroll Baker as Hugh Hefner and Dorothy's mother respectively. But the film goes beyond offering exceptional performances in a tragic story of promising youth cut short.

Director and writer Bob Fosse begins his story with Stratten's death and then presents the history of the Stratton-Snider relationship in a semi-documentary style through flashbacks and flash-forwards. The style serves him very well, for the film quickly develops such intensity that at times it becomes extremely difficult to watch. As it progresses, the story itself becomes a metaphor for hedonism of the 1970s surging into the 1980s: a poisonous mixture of superficial appearances, selfishness, user-mentalities, and disposability. As viewers, we are trapped in a count-down to death, unable to alter a single misstep in Stratten's final days and horrified by the inextoriable drift toward violence. The final ten minutes of the film are certainly among the most powerful, disturbing, and upsetting ever put to film.

STAR 80 proved too unpleasantly real for box office success. This is not an "entertaining" film. But it is a brilliantly done film, one undimmed by the passage of twenty years--and one that, sadly, will likely be as valid twenty years from now as it is today. Strongly recommended.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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The Complexity Of Simplicity
dungeonstudio16 May 2017
I have to hand it to Bob Fosse for immortalizing not only Dorothy Stratten, but Lenny Bruce as well. (In Bob's other great movie 'Lenny' with Dustin Hoffman) What is it about these two people that attracted the intense attention of a choreographer like Fosse? In a word, I'd say it was 'rhythm'. Both these people went 'out of sync' with their otherwise preordained lives. Lenny decided to 'go blue' with his comedic material, and become the whipping boy for 'free speech'. While Dorothy was humble about her beauty, but saw the empowering opportunities it could give her. And interesting that Lenny was praised by the public for his comedic boldness, but hated by 'the system' of righteous puritanical authorities and outlets. Whereas Dorothy was scrutinized for her Playboy posing, but in her defense of it, 'the system' of entertainment pros and directors saw great potential in her. And as soon as the public realized 'Hey, these people are dancing to a different beat - but they're good at it' - they're sadly removed from the chorus line. And interesting that Lenny began to take himself and his charges way too seriously, while Dorothy and her rising success wasn't taken seriously enough by herself. Had Lenny been a little more 'laissez-faire' with the charges and controversy he caused, he may have lived a long and successful life? Had Dorothy taken heed to Hef's and others advice that she'd be better off without Paul, she too may have had a long and successful life? Either way, I don't think either died in vane. And again, kudos to Bob for putting these otherwise less than favorable and forgettable people as the unwitting pioneers that they were. Not that Lenny Bruce single handed made comedy 'sleazy'. Or that Dorothy Stratten innocently made pornography 'respectable'. But there are those today that would ignorantly say 'they got what they deserved'. And it's the grace of these two movies of Bob's to show how ultimately wrong they really are.
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Portrait Of A Sleazebag
sddavis6318 December 2009
"Star 80" is based on the book "Portrait Of A Playmate," about the life and eventual murder of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten. I've never read the book, but if the movie is anywhere near an accurate representation of it, then it's mistitled. The story here has far more to do with Paul Snider - the sleazebag who "discovered" Dorothy, married her and eventually murdered her.

There are excellent performances from the two leads in this movie. Mariel Hemingway did a good job of developing Dorothy - from the naive, innocent and shy young waitress who's still finishing high school in Vancouver to the worldly playmate and budding film star. Even in terms of looks, she was perfectly cast. I checked out some images of Stratten on the internet, and the resemblance between the two is eerie. As good as Hemingway was, though, Eric Roberts as Paul stole the show. He developed the character brilliantly, from the street-wise manipulator who may have been using Stratten but who nevertheless did seem to care for her into a guy who was interested only in controlling her and getting what he could out of her, losing his grip on sanity as a result when she finally broke away from him and wouldn't even consider a reconciliation.

The movie is interestingly structured. There are disturbing images from the beginning of Paul, having just committed the bloody murder, still talking to Dorothy's body, there are reflections from those who knew Paul and Dorothy (played by actors) about the events leading up to the murder, and a pretty good dramatized account of their relationship and how it fell apart as Dorothy moved into a different circle of people while Paul was never accepted. The most interesting thing about this is that even though Paul is depicted as a total sleazebag, there's a certain sympathy that you feel for him as he loses Dorothy, if only because he was responsible for her success in a way and it seems that he really did love her - albeit it in that warped, obsessive, controlling and therefore unhealthy and ultimately destructive sense that so many of these stories revolve around.

This is a really interesting movie. 8/10
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JasparLamarCrabb12 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
STAR 80 is Bob Fosse's stunning, no holds barred account of the life and death of playmate Dorothy Stratten and her husband Paul Snider. It features a career making performance by Eric Roberts. As Snider, Roberts is electrifying. He's the most sadistic screen villain since Richard Widmark in KISS OF DEATH. Mariel Hemingway is fine as Stratten, a would be actress who had an affair with the director Peter Bogdanovich. Unfortunately she's dwarfed by Roberts. So are the supporting players: Roger Rees as a very Bogdanovich-like director, Carroll Baker as Stratten's mother, and Cliff Robertson as Hugh Hefner. Director Fosse utilizes the same interview like technique he used on LENNY and it works just as well here --- Baker is particularly good and has a number of heartfelt moments. STAR 80 is flashy, fast paced and not to be missed!

POSTSCRIPT: It turned out that Roberts would play the majority of his roles as he did Paul Snider. In movies like THE POPE OF GREENWICH VILLAGE and RUNAWAY TRAIN it was appropriate. In more subtle fare like RAGGEDY MAN it wasn't. Go figure!
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Fosse's Most Aggressive Movie Is Also His Most Unpleasant
evanston_dad18 March 2008
The slimy underbelly of the entertainment industry and the destruction that so often comes along with fame was a theme that lurked behind every movie Bob Fosse made, and it's at its most obvious and aggressively nasty in "Star 80."

Eric Roberts plays Paul Snider, a sleazy hood who discovered Playboy centerfold Dorothy Stratten and then murdered her and himself in an obsessive rage. It's a heartbreaking, violent and disturbing story on many levels; however, the saddest thing about it is that Stratten wouldn't be worth making a movie about if she hadn't been murdered in the first place. What does that tell you about the lure of celebrity?

Roberts gives a fierce performance as Snider -- he was a very good and almost completely overlooked actor. Mariel Hemingway plays Stratten, and she's rather vapid, which is all the role really requires. Fosse was not able to keep his cynicism and bile at bay, and so while the movie is accomplished, it's also downright unpleasant to sit through. It's as nihilistic as "All That Jazz" but without the flashy production numbers to add some variety.

Grade: B
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A compelling and heartbreaking story.
Hey_Sweden23 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The brief life and sad end to beloved Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten is chronicled in this very sordid film, the swan song for its director Bob Fosse. Your heart just goes out to this poor girl who got manipulated at a very young age, turned into a star, and eventually murdered. The acting is first-rate from all concerned, and while the film may be hard to watch at times (especially the finale), it does resonate very strongly after it's over.

The troubling relationship at the core of "Star 80" is tinged with tragedy from the beginning; Dorothy's worried mother (Carroll Baker) fears the worst when her lovable, trusting, naive daughter (wonderfully played by Mariel Hemingway) is seduced by small-time hustler and big-time dreamer Paul Snider (Eric Roberts). He sees her potential and promotes her career as a Playboy model, but finds that he isn't as able to bask in her success as he wants - even after marriage. Her fame grows, but he just can't succeed without trading in on her name. He becomes more and more jealous and paranoid while she does her best to move on. Unfortunately, as portrayed here she's just too compassionate for her own good.

Hemingway is incredible; she really captures the essential appeal of this comely young woman who captivated a great many men. The excellent ensemble also includes Cliff Robertson as Hugh Hefner, Roger Rees as filmmaker "Aram Nicholas", and David Clennon as friendly doctor "Geb" (with supporting roles and bits for the likes of Josh Mostel, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Liz Sheridan, and Robert Picardo), but it's Roberts who impresses the most as a fundamentally scummy jerk whose actions you never ever condone but whom you do grow to understand (Laurence Fishburne accomplished the same sort of thing playing Ike Turner in "What's Love Got to Do with It" 10 years later).

All in all, this is a well done drama that ultimately may be too dark for some people to take.

Dorothy's story was also told in the TV movie "Death of a Centerfold" starring Jamie Lee Curtis.

Eight out of 10.
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Bob Fosse and Eric Roberts, 'nuff said
zuhairvazir27 January 2014
Over the weekend I found myself rummaging through my collection - once again - for a Bob Fosse flick and voila, two films popped out as if God Himself gave the DVDs a push from below.

This brilliant film is the story of a Playboy Centerfold intricately shown to us by veteran director Bob Fosse. Dorothy Stratten, a naive, young, wholesome beauty from Vancouver, British Columbia is discovered by a small time night-club promoter and part time pimp, Paul Snider.

They move in together and he takes pictures of her to send to Playboy. Fosse's direction is tenfold. Here we see the libertine culture in a direct collision course with greed and the lust to be 'someone'.

Snider wants to be known as Stratten's manager and husband (yes, they get married much to Hefner's dislike) more than anything in the world. He wants to buy new cars and clothes with her money, hang out with the stars at 'The Mansion' and above all get comforted by the feeling that he owns Stratten. Look in his eyes when he is rejected by high society. That look deserves all the awards in the world.

Fosse does not confuse us or makes us ask questions. We see Snider, a role that is performed almost perfectly by the great Eric Roberts, throwing tantrums; admiring himself in the mirror and soaked with jealousy at many points throughout the film. The year after this film was made, Roberts went on to team with Mickey Rourke to make one of the finest films to come out of Hollywood, 'The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984)'.

There is a sense of chaos around snider, which Roberts holds on to with filial piety throughout the film. He drives the film with his over-the- top dress sense, his brilliant facial expressions and his entire body movement, which if studied carefully gives away a lot about the character.

He emphasizes each word he speaks and if we didn't know who he was, even we would fall for the smooth talking erstwhile pimp. However, we know who he is; history tells us who he is therefore from the word go (when they meet) the screen is brimming with tension and discomfort.

Mariel Hemingway throws in a lovely performance herself, albeit a tad- bit forlorn, even when she's having fun - but you see the conflict is right there. Stratten cannot enjoy the fame under Snider's omnipresent shadow.

We see the rise and then the descent, as if in fast forward of a promising young, voluptuous woman and who, towards the end starts getting calls from Hollywood and even gets small parts in 'Buck Rogers' and is picked by Peter Bogdanovich for his new movie.

Overall, the film packs a punch and is quite unpleasant to watch, specially when you know how it ends.

The orton set design and immaculate camera work give the film an edge over other genre specials, and then there is Eric Roberts who is currently consigned to oblivion, but then showbiz is brutal, see what it did to him.

Great film and a must watch.
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A tragic 80s noir
rickgaucha31 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
The oldest standard wedding vows can be traced back to the book of common prayers,in which it is said "till death do us apart" since divorce was prohibited this is the case for this film made by the artistic Bob Fosse in which he details the real life murder suicide of Paul Snider a small time hustler pimp who comes out as a narcisstic hateful psychopath but later we find out the he is a devastated self destructed failure so we feel some sympathy for him backed by a brilliant performance by Eric Roberts. On the other hand we have Dorothy which falls for Paul and gets exploited by him she is gentle ,kindand gentle almost angel like. At the end of the film we can't blame Paul for the tragic ending but the exotic industry which exploited both of them and caused their demise .
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How dark do you want to go?
jellopuke15 September 2018
This is a dark movie about a terrible person and a horrible murder. No one particularly comes out of this well, even Stratton but it's well acted and edited with an interesting use of fake interviews. How close is it to the real story? Dunno, but the point made here is on the nature of the kind of world shown and it's not a positive one at all.
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creepy Eric Roberts
SnoopyStyle26 August 2018
In 1978 Vancouver, Dorothy Stratten (Mariel Hemingway) is a teenager working at a Dairy Queen. She falls under the influence of narcissist scheming con-man Paul Snider (Eric Roberts). He takes Polaroids of her nude and sends them to Playboy. Hugh Hefner (Cliff Robertson) is taken with her and she rises to be the centerfold in the August '79 issue. As she gains more success, his possessiveness drives him mad with jealousy.

While Hemingway is the title character, this is Eric Roberts' movie. She is very capable as an innocent. He is doing the heavy lifting. He makes this a difficult watch. It's uncomfortable and disturbing not in a fun way. He is super creepy without any rooting interest. Legendary choreographer Bob Fosse steps out to direct this. He has a very intriguing list of directing work and shows that he is drawn to edgy material. This is not for everyone and I suggest a long shower to wash away the Eric Roberts of it all.
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On The Outside Looking In
Lechuguilla23 January 2012
Consider this film concept. An ordinary young man with big dreams discovers a beautiful young woman working as an order-taker in a burger joint. He instantly sees her glamor potential. He convinces her that she could be a Playboy model. They leave their hometown and move to Hollywood. He becomes her manager.

Then later, Hollywood in general, and Hugh Hefner in particular, accept the young woman, but want nothing to do with the young man. But that's not consistent with the young man's dream of becoming a flashy Hollywood big shot. He feels slighted, rejected. And "they" have taken his love away from him. The result is tragic.

That's the underlying premise of "Star 80", the true-life story of the young woman, Playboy model Dorothy Stratten (Mariel Hemingway), and the young man, Paul Snider (Eric Roberts). Writer/Director Bob Fosse tells the story from the POV of Snider. And the film's structure consists of one long flashback, from the final sequence. Various characters along the way offer their take on Stratten and Snider.

The film portrays Stratten as innocent, naïve, shy, polite, confused, overly trusting, and a tad vacuous. Snider, part-time photographer and small-time huckster, comes across initially as a jerk. Oily and flashy-looking, he ingratiates himself to Hefner (Cliff Robertson) and other Hollywood insiders. But it doesn't work. Eventually, his possessiveness of Stratten and jealousy of her insider connections, combined with Hollywood's rejection of him, leave him emotionally unbalanced, desperate, and ultimately psychotic.

The film's production values are fine. Eric Roberts, with his very large mouth, not only physically resembles the real Paul Snider, but also exudes behavior and an inner sense of self, consistent with what we would expect of Snider. Mariel Hemingway gives a fine performance as Stratten. I thought Robertson's performance as Hefner was a little flat.

While the film is mostly a character study of Stratten and Snider, it also gives us a glimpse into a ruthless and cruel Tinseltown, where dreams can easily morph into nightmares. To an outsider wanting in, the best advice is ... approach the beast with distrust and caution.
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