AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Rose
Director: Mark Rydell (Dir)
Release Date:   7 Nov 1979
Duration (in mins):  134
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Cast: Bette Midler  (Rose)
  Alan Bates  (Rudge [Campbell])
  Frederic Forrest  ([Houston] Dyer)

Summary: The parents of Rose, a popular blues singer, walk into their garage with a press photographer, who takes pictures of walls that are covered with images of Rose’s life. Years earlier, an intoxicated Rose descends the stairs of her touring airplane as her promoter, Rudge Campbell, steadies her. They drive to a stadium filled with adoring fans. After the show, Rose complains to Rudge that she’s tired and wants to take a year off, but Rudge is worried about canceling $3 million worth of concerts and tells her to be tough. Backstage before her next concert, Rose removes songs from the playlist because she lacks the energy to perform a full set. Onstage, Rose drinks from several liquor bottles and her managers become angry that her alcoholism is out of control. After the show, Rose complains again to Rudge about her health and he produces a syringe filled with Vitamin B-12, which she injects. Later, Rudge introduces Rose to country singer Billy Ray, a musician she’s admired for many years, and Rose is humiliated when Billy Ray criticizes her talent. Livid that Rudge doesn’t defend her, Rose realizes that her promoter wants to work for Billy Ray. Storming out, Rose has a limousine chauffeur, Houston Dyer, drive her to a familiar club of female impersonators. There, Rose performs a duet with a drag queen of her own likeness as impersonators of Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Dolly Parton join her on stage. Back at a hotel, Houston and Rose make love. Later, when Rudge berates Rose for missing a recording session, Rose blames at Houston and jumps into the limousine as Houston drives away. Houston stops the vehicle in the middle of the street and disappears into a men’s bathhouse. There, Rose finds Houston in the steam room, and he reveals his own problems; Houston left his post as an army sergeant three weeks ago and is considered AWOL. Rose invites Houston to join her entourage. On her airplane, Rose cries that all the clouds look the same and she doesn’t know where she is. After a show in St. Louis, Missouri, Rudge introduces her to several important contacts, but Houston cuts Rose’s conversation short and Rudge warns him to stay away from Rose’s business. On the next leg of the tour, Rose and her entourage sit in an airport waiting room because of inclement weather and Rose strikes up a conversation with a few soldiers. One soldier, Mal, agrees to be her bodyguard and masseur for the rest of the tour. At a concert, Houston rescues Rose from a rush of fans storming the stage and carries her to her dressing room where she smothers him with kisses. At another show, Sarah Willingham, one of Rose’s former lovers, comes backstage and Houston walks in on their embrace carrying a bottle of champagne. When Rose tries to explain, Houston hits her and she hurls the bottle of champagne at the wall, then knees him in the stomach. Later, Houston disappears and Rose and Mal drive to her next show, which is located in her hometown. Walking into Leonard’s, the neighborhood grocery store, Rose orders a moon pie and a Dr. Pepper, triggering Leonard’s memory of her as a young girl. Leonard doesn’t realize that Rose is a famous singer and Rose becomes upset, believing that people in her hometown are not aware of her success. As roadies assemble the stage for Rose’s concert on the high school football field, Rudge worries that Rose won’t show up in time and quits upon her arrival. Rudge announces that he is cancelling the concert and leaves as Houston appears. Elated, Rose falls into Houston’s arms and agrees to go with him to Mexico. Meanwhile, Rudge hears Rose’s fans waiting for the concert to begin and believes he has called her bluff. On the road, Rose and Houston stop at Monte’s, the first venue Rose ever performed. Fortified with alcohol and drugs, Rose performs one of her songs, accompanied by the house band. However, Houston fights a redneck and drags Rose from the club before she has a chance to finish. In the car, the couple is interrupted by a phone call from Rudge, who begs Rose to perform. Houston realizes that they are not going to Mexico after all and leaves Rose at Monte’s, where Sam, a drug dealer, slips her some drugs. Later, Rose calls Rudge from a phone booth, asking him to collect her as she swallows several tablets with alcohol. When a helicopter delivers Rose to her hometown audience, Rudge helps her stagger onto the stage. The adoring fans revive Rose and she summons the will to sing, but she collapses after the first song. Back at Rose’s parents’ garage, the photographer finishes taking pictures and Mal turns off the light. 

Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Production Company: Marvin Worth/Aaron Russo Productions
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Director: Mark Rydell (Dir)
  Ira Loonstein (Unit prod mgr)
  Larry Franco (Asst dir)
  Chris Soldo (2d asst dir)
  Barry Primus (2d unit dir)
Producer: Marvin Worth (Prod)
  Aaron Russo (Prod)
  Tony Ray (Exec prod)
Writer: Bill Kerby (Scr)
  Bo Goldman (Scr)
  Bill Kerby (Story)

Subject Major: Alcoholism
  Drug overdose
  Rock concerts
Subject Minor: Airplanes
  Business managers
  Country music
  Drug dealers
  High schools
  Steam rooms
  Telephone booths

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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