The Star

The Star is a 1952 American drama film directed by Stuart Heisler and starring Bette Davis. The plot tells the story of an aging, washed-up actress who is desperate to restart her career. Even though the film was a critical and commercial failure, Bette Davis received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.


Oscar-winning star Margaret "Maggie" Elliot (Bette Davis) is a bankrupt actress struggling to accept her new, non-wealthy reality. She is in denial, and confident she somehow can re-launch her career to its earlier brilliance. After suffering another big disappointment while vainly striving to get one good role, she gets drunk, gets arrested for DUI, and spends a night in jail. She is bailed out by Jim Johannsen (Sterling Hayden), a younger former actor whom she had helped in the past. Jim, now comfortably settled as the owner of a boatyard, admits that he has loved her ever since those days, and helped by Margaret's daughter Gretchen (Natalie Wood), tries to help Margaret see that her days as a famous actress are already over. She reluctantly tries to work as a saleswoman in an upscale department store, but gossip from two customers wounds her pride and she runs out. Her old agent manages to get her a screen test for a role in a film she'd always wanted to play. She takes a screen test for a supporting role, believing that if she plays that character as a sexy younger woman, rather than the middle-aged frump she is seen as by the studio, she might be able to win the more coveted lead role. It does not work.