Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story (1981)

Rushed into production while her murder was still fresh in the public's mind, this biopic aired just one year after Dorothy Stratten's death. Apart from the restraints this undoubtedly placed on the film's overall quality, it also gave the impression that its title character was once more being exploited. Even the film's title did its best to titillate the viewers.

 

The opening scene would have let them know they were in for a let-down. For there is no nudity on display in Stratten's Playboy photo-shoot, in which a scantily-clad Jamie Lee Curtis almost gives herself whiplash by repeatedly tossing her head back. Flashback to Vancouver 1977, in which young, wholesome Dorothy Hoogstraten agrees to work an extra shift in an ice-cream parlour. Contrast this immediately with sleazy Paul Snider, mixing with criminals in a bar as male-strippers strut their stuff. 

 

The remainder of the biopic is just as unsubtle in its depiction of Snider's attempts to control Stratten, at one point even yelling "She's my property!". Consequently, both leads are reduced to giving one-note performances in a film whose sets, musical score and dramatic cuts to an ad-break attest to its television origins.

 

It would be a further two years before the events surrounding Stratten's murder received the big-screen treatment, in Bob Fosse’s Star 80. The only similarity between the two in its treatment of this tragic event is its depiction, or rather non-depiction, of Stratten's boyfriend at the time of her death, director Peter Bogdanovich. 

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Movie depicts Dorothy Stratten being raised by her Aunt Hilda. This is because Stratten's family insisted that the names and relationships of her mother and sister were altered for the biopic.

The closest this biopic comes to a scene recreation is when David Palmer/Peter Bogdanovich meets Dorothy Stratten during a break in the filming of Galaxina.

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