The Star, a 1952 drama starring the fabulous Bette Davis and co-starring Sterling Hayden, is much like All About Eve and Sunset Boulevard, in that in explores the theme of a middle-aged movie star desperately trying to hang on to a career that is being overtaken by more youthful actresses. While I LOVE Bette and think she gave an amazing performance here, I do think All About Eve and Sunset Boulevard are superior to The Star, and I give them both 5 stars.
Bette plays Margaret (Maggie) Elliott, a former Oscar-winning actress, who is at a very low point in her life. Divorced and sharing custody of her daughter with her ex-husband, Maggie is bankrupt and has recently been evicted from her apartment. Add to that is the humiliation of having to spend a night in jail due to drunk driving. And, the cruelest blow of all is that since she's now in her early 40's, she is no longer young enough to garner the star roles she has formerly known. More youthful actresses are now on the scene, and Maggie is considered for only the mature characters and the supporting roles...that is, when she's offered a part at all. Her agent tells her to face the facts...producers want youth. But Maggie cannot bear to think of herself as "out to pasture" and continues to try to obtain roles that no longer suit her age.
Bette was 44 in this movie, but I think she appeared much older. In All About Eve, which was only two years earlier, she looked MUCH younger than she did here. Regardless, though, she gave a FABULOUS, Oscar-worthy performance. (She received her ninth Best Actress nomination for The Star; however, Shirley Booth came away with the Oscar that year, for her performance in Come Back, Little Sheba). I truly think Bette is/was the best actress EVER. I totally love her and think she gave more than 100% all the time. I think she could have received an Oscar for nearly every movie she ever made. Anyhow, her incredible acting ability shines brightly here in The Star.
Although the movie was about an aging Hollywood actress, it could easily speak to the heart of anyone since we live in a youth-worshiped society. Nearly everyone fears growing older and being displaced by someone younger, thus we obsess with our success as Davis's character did in this film. Therefore, I think most everyone can identify with Maggie Elliott.
Maggie's daughter, Gretchen, is played by a totally lovely thirteen year old Natalie Wood. Although her part is extremely small, she's really delightful. The relationship between mother and daughter is very sweet, and I thought the chemistry between Bette and Natalie was wonderful.
Finally, I will just say that I am giving this movie 4 stars because of the incredible talent of Bette Davis. However, the ending was wrapped up WAY too quickly. In only about five minutes, everything was resolved, and it just didn't seem credible to me. For that reason, I considered giving 3 stars. So, just know that the rushed ending will mar this movie a bit. Even so, though, ANY movie of Bette Davis's is worth watching.