Star 80 (1983)

Ostensibly a biopic on playmate turned actress Dorothy Stratten, this film actually focuses on her husband Paul Snider. So effective is Eric Roberts in his portrayal, that like the guests at Playboy Mansion, you find yourself not really wanting to spend much time with him, let alone the movie’s 100 minutes running time.

 

The movie opens with Roberts parading around naked in a bedroom adorned with photos of Stratten. As her life is told in flashback, the movie frequently cuts backs to this scene, gradually revealing itself as a crime scene.  Intersecting the film are interviews with Stratten’s acquaintances – her photographer, her roommate, even Hugh Hefner. Yet once again the topic of conversation is centered on Snider.

 

Not that Stratten is overlooked. As portrayed by Mariel Hemingway she comes across as a rather sweet, innocent teen who falls prey to the oily machinations of Snider. Her gradual realisation of his darker side, as he desperately tries to hold onto the one success in his life, is achingly realised. 

 

In a fine portrayal as Dorothy’s mother, Carroll Baker subtlety suggests her awareness of Snider’s true character comes much sooner. When he pleads with her to allow Dorothy to appear in Playboy, Snider tellingly refers to the benefits he will enjoy as a result. “I do love her” he confesses. “Funny,” she replies “I could have sworn you said I love IT", foreshadowing the dehumanising world that awaits her daughter.

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The names of the movies Dorothy Stratten appeared were changed in the film. Skatetown, U.S.A. is renamed Ball Bearings, Autumn Born becomes Wednesday's Child and according to the clapper board They All Laughed is retitled Tinsel Time.

 

The real-life inspiration for fictional character Aram Nicholas is director Peter Bogdanovich.

Biopic features a few, very brief semi-scene recreations from Stratten’s short film career. Of longer duration is a recreation from the television special Playboy's Roller Disco & Pajama Party, in which both Dorothy Stratten and Peter Bogdanovich appear. The soundtrack for the Star 80 scene is ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ - the same tune used in the roller skating scene from the only movie they made together They All Laughed

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