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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mark Rydell|
|Story by||Bill Kerby|
Harry Dean Stanton
|Music by||Paul A. Rothchild (Mendelssohn - Piano concerto no 1, 2nd movement, the Rose)|
|Edited by||Robert L. Wolfe|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$29.2 million|
The Rose is a 1979 American drama film which tells the story of a self-destructive 1960s rock star who struggles to cope with the constant pressures of her career and the demands of her ruthless business manager. The film stars Bette Midler, Alan Bates, Frederic Forrest, Harry Dean Stanton, Barry Primus, and David Keith.
The story is loosely based on the life of singer Janis Joplin. Originally titled Pearl, after Joplin's nickname, and the title of her last album, it was fictionalized after her family declined to allow the producers the rights to her story. It was written by Bill Kerby and Bo Goldman from a story by Bill Kerby, and directed by Mark Rydell.
The Rose was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Actress in a Leading Role (Bette Midler, in her screen debut), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Frederic Forrest), Best Film Editing and Best Sound.
In late 1969, Mary Rose Foster (Bette Midler) is a famous rock and roll diva known as The Rose. Although a success, she is burnt out and lonely but is kept working by her gruff, greedy manager and promoter Rudge Campbell (Alan Bates). Though loud and brassy, Rose is an insecure alcoholic and former drug user who seems to crave approval in her life. As such, she is determined to return to her hometown, now as a superstar. After being humiliated by a country singing star named Billy Ray (Harry Dean Stanton) whose songs she performs in her show, Rose takes off with a limousine driver named Huston Dyer (Frederic Forrest) and begins a romance with him. Rudge thinks Huston is just another hanger on, but Rose thinks she has finally met her true love. Huston tells her that he is actually an AWOL sergeant from the Army, and she tells him of her past in Florida. They have a rocky relationship and her lifestyle of "Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll", constant touring, and Huston's jealousy over Rose's lesbian lover Sarah lead her to an inevitable breakdown at a tour stop in Memphis. Huston and Rose break up and she returns to her hometown of Jacksonville, Florida with PFC Mal, whom she met in Texas, as a security escort, telling him about her past.
Arriving at the stadium for afternoon rehearsals for her concert, Rose repeats her intention to take a one-year break from performing, leading Rudge to tell her she will be in breach of contract and tells her she's fired (a ploy, his "ace in the hole", to keep her performing). Dyer reappears and they realize that they can now leave and be together. She takes him on a tour of bars and music joints in her town. Their reunion ends when Rudge reaches her on their car phone and convinces her to return for the concert, causing Dyer to give up and immediately grab a ride out-of-town with a trucker. Finally, Rose collapses on stage and dies (from an overdose of alcohol, barbiturates and heroin) in the opening minutes of her long-awaited homecoming concert.
This is allusion to the oft-repeated story of a certain strain of Los Angeles heroin being especially potent as it circulated in late September and early October 1970, claiming not only the life of Janis Joplin but many other people as well as leaving many others with permanent disabilities.
The film was originally offered to Ken Russell, who chose instead to direct Valentino. Russell has described this decision as the biggest mistake of his career. At one point, Michael Cimino was also slated to direct, but he chose to direct Heaven's Gate instead. Cimimo did, however, make uncredited contributions to the script.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists: