The Plot: The Rose
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 on her and leave town. 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.
The Cast: The Rose
Mister D: I just wanted to add that the studio was lobbying hard for Jessica Lange to play The Rose. She was a rising star and had acting experience. They thought of Bette as high risk. But Mark Rydell was determined for Bette to play the part and he told the company that he would walk if Bette did not star in The Rose. So, thanks to Mr, Rydell.
- Bette Midler as Mary Rose Foster (The Rose)
- Alan Bates as Rudge Campbell
- Frederic Forrest as Huston Dyer
- Harry Dean Stanton as Billy Ray
- Barry Primus as Dennis
- David Keith as Pfc. Mal
- Sandra McCabe as Sarah Willingham
- Will Hare as Mr. Leonard
- James Keane as Sam
- Doris Roberts as Mrs. Foster
- Danny Weis as Danny, Band Leader and Guitarist of “The Rose Band”
- Steve Hunter – Guitar The Rose Band
- Sylvester as a drag queen
- Michael Greer as Emcee (“Baby Jane”)
Production: The Rose
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. Cimino did, however, make uncredited contributions to the script.
Awards and honors: The Rose
- Golden Globes: Best Actress – Musical/Comedy (Bette Midler), Best Original Song – The Rose (Amanda McBroom), New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture – Female (Bette Midler)
- National Society of Film Critics Awards: Best Supporting Actor (Frederic Forrest)
Nominations: The Rose
- Academy Awards: Best Actress (Bette Midler), Best Supporting Actor (Frederic Forrest), Best Film Editing (Robert L. Wolfe and Carroll Timothy O’Meara) and Best Sound (Theodore Soderberg, Douglas Williams, Paul Wells, and Jim Webb)
- Golden Globes: Best Picture – Musical/Comedy, Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Frederic Forrest)
- BAFTA Awards: Best Actress (Bette Midler), Best Sound (Theodore Soderberg, Douglas O. Williams, Paul Wells, James E. Webb)
- César Awards: Best Foreign Film (Mark Rydell)