The Rose

I went to the office to work on lecture notes, and I got through the lecture seeing that the results of the exam last week caused some students to stop attending class. I thought about buying a hamburger for lunch, but I just went home and heated some chicken egg rolls. I looked through the Criterion Collection Blu-ray discs at the record store and found a copy of “8 ½,” but I didn’t buy it. I went back to the office and prepared for the evening class. I finished up and returned home. I saw that the Rangers and the Astros had won their playoff games. What happened to the home field advantage? I watched an hour of Match Game before “The Rose” with Bette Midler, directed by Mark Rydell. The Blu-ray edition looked pretty good, although in one shot the color didn’t come through. It was something that I’d seen in the “Fanny and Alexander” disc, too. The concept of this movie was originally “The Pearl,” about the life of Janis Joplin. Even with some changes which included bits about Bette Midler, it still seems like we’re seeing the Janis Joplin story. The first time I saw this movie years ago, Midler’s performance seemed so powerful, but now it seems flawed to me. She flashes some anger, then cries, then sings some songs. I never thought of her as a rock and roll singer, so when she sings “Sold My Soul to Rock and Roll,” I’m not convinced. Her selection of songs was not as strong as in a Janis Joplin album. One thing I noticed was that this was all supposed to occur in 1969, and yet Rose was singing songs that hadn’t been written yet. I didn’t like the idea of this singer having the single name Rose, along the lines of Cher. I generally don’t like a flashback structure to a story, so the appearance of the photographers at the beginning to the movie was annoying. I found that I was getting tired of Bette Midler in the movie. It felt like every shot in the movie was a close-up of her face. I didn’t buy that this woman was some kind of superstar. The aerial shot of the last concert was impressive because a lot of fans showed up to be extras. I guess they were told that they were supposed to be in 1969 for this sequence, but I questioned whether they really got the message. I don’t like show business stories too much. I don’t know to know the inside stories about agents or offstage behavior. The interesting aspect of The Rose was her decline, and her desire for fame while having all sorts of complaints about it. I saw the actual Janis Joplin in “Petulia,” although I don’t remember what the song was. I’ve come to associate Bette Midler more with the comedies like “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” and “Outrageous Fortune.” I guess she is known for the drama “Beaches.” At one point, Rose yells out “drugs, sex, rock and roll!” It’s supposed to be “sex and drugs and rock and roll.” She must have been deteriorating if she couldn’t get that right. Rose’s final scene was too melodramatic, especially when compared to what happened to Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison. Others in the cast included Alan Bates, Frederic Forrest, Harry Dean Stanton, David Keith, and Doris Roberts. David Keith would become known to many of us three years later in “An Officer and a Gentleman.” Doris Roberts was Rose’s mother. I kept thinking that since she was the mother in “The Heartbreak Kid,” she had played characters who were mothers for a very long time. The cinematographer was the famous Vilmos Zsigmond, and the movie did look pretty good, although I was more impressed with “Manhattan” and “Apocalypse Now,” two other movies that were released in 1979. Toni Basil is credited as the choreographer, although I didn’t even notice what she did. Conrad Hall, Laszlo Kovacs, and Haskell Wexler were all credited with additional concert photography. Rydell did have the talented people working for him. I certainly would not have wanted to see Jane Fonda in the role of Rose with dubbed vocals. That would be been a potential disaster. I’m glad that she opted for “The China Syndrome,” which was good territory for her. “The Rose” was released in the same year as “Hair,” and “Hair” was more effective, although both movies felt like they were too late in reflecting on the 1960s. I would say that my favorite of Mark Rydell’s films is “The Reivers,” although I also liked “Cinderella Liberty” and “On Golden Pond.” Mark Rydell is still alive and is 87 years old. I fell asleep before the late night talk shows came on, so I missed whatever Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert were up to. The morning news showed us a catnapper. Some of the people who died on October 9 include Che Guevara (1967), Oskar Schindler (1974), Herbert Ross (2001), and Louis Nye (2005). Today is a birthday for Sean Lennon (40), PJ Harvey (46), John O’Hurley (61), Sharon Osbourne (63), and Jackson Browne (67). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for October 9, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” starring James Cagney and Mickey Rooney, was released in 1935. In 1973, Elvis and Priscilla Presley were divorced after six years of marriage. In 1986, “The Late Show with Joan Rivers” made its debut.

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