The Rose

Classic Film Review: The Rose (20th Century Fox) Released: 1979, Rated: R (Drama)

Starring: Bette Midler, Alan Bates, Frederic Forrest, Harry Dean Stanton, Barry Primus, and David Keith

Director: Mark Rydell   Written by: Bill Kerby, and Bo Goldman

By Cathleen Rockwell

This classic academy award nominated film was inspired and loosely based on the life of the late blues-rock icon Janis Joplin. Bette Midler stars as Mary Rose Foster (The Rose), a self-destructive and tortured rock star from the 1960s.

Unfortunately, she takes the path of drugs and alcohol like many musicians past and present have. It doesn’t help that she has a ruthless business manager, Rudge (Alan Bates), who is more interested in making money and sell-out concerts than the artist’s illness that leads up to her breakdown. Her loyal and sympathetic lover, Dyer (Frederic Forrest), tries without success to save her from her dark path to demise.

The show must always go on regardless of what it might take a performer to get into the mood to get out on stage. The management and crew watch from behind the scenes as they continue to be enablers to her.

The Rose 2

One of the most emotional parts in the film is when Rose returns for a homecoming concert where she grew up. She was the misfit in school and the shunned outsider that never quite fit in. It is bitter sweet when she phones her mother and reveals how very vulnerable and insecure she still is. It seems that no matter how rich and famous she is, she will always be that misfit that never felt she belonged.

There are many films based on musicians and several of them are biographical dramas, but this one both holds up and sticks with you. Midler’s performance is remarkable and her portrayal of an artist whose success became her destruction is both haunting and heart wrenching. She performed all the songs on the soundtrack album and the title track became one of her biggest hit singles in 1980. A must see for all music lovers or anyone wanting to see an excellent character study of a tormented artist who succumbs to the temptations of her rise to stardom.

Photo credit:


Cathy Rockwell is currently pursuing her second Master’s Degree — this one in Homeland Security. She earned her first Master of Arts Degree in writing in 2011. She has been a freelance writer for the Gainesville Examiner and INsite Magazine, covering movies, concerts, album reviews and the theater. She’s has also worked as an event planner and in the music business doing various jobs in New England and California. Her passion has always been music of all types. She listens to everything from Beethoven to the Rolling Stones. She’s attended concerts since she was 13 years old and is a supporter local musicians.

Share on social media