Proof Positive of Cocaine's Influence on Hollywood
Finally saw this movie for the first time for the only time. I can certainly see why others like it, it's very stylized (the wardrobe/sets were excellent--there are so many plunging necklines on Babs and this is a good 10 YEARS after she had her son, talk about an amazing body! Who knew!) and there's some genuinely good stuff here (the scene where Kris Kristofferson realizes his band has moved on without him is such a killer and so well done) but it's all so loosely strewn together/coke fueled you just can't call this a great film.
First of all there's little to no explanation as to why Kris Kristofferson's character just all of a sudden decides showbiz isn't for him, that he'd rather obsessively stalk/manage the career of Babs' character. This movie would have benefited with another 10 minutes in the beginning focusing on John Norman Howard and the rigors of his superfamous lifestyle and it wouldn't have killed them to cut down on the stock footage of the ridiculously large concert crowd. I think they tried to use the latter to establish the former but you end up seeing the two as separate because John Norman only plunks down to sing after we've lost interest in the heaving hordes.
Suddenly we're catapulted into the relationship of John Norman and Esther (yeah, um, no that would never ever happen. Talented or no we'll never see an Esther live in concert) and slowly the obsessor becomes the obsessee. This is a bit more believable but as others have pointed out there's some crazy sequences where these *beep* start screwing around with backhoes and dunebuggying etc.
In the last stage Babs has become the superstar "Esther" who has long since surpassed John Norman and he finally gets his wish and kills himself. Apparently there was some argument over whether or not he should commit suicide or have "an accident" and I think the filmmakers kind of wussed out and landed somewhere in the middle. It would have been a lot more poignant had he committed suicide because it would have spoken more to the self-destructive nature and ultimately incurable depression that John Norman suffered as a result of his meteoric rise to fame.
I can't help but compare this to another Seventies coke binge called "All That Jazz" that I recently saw for the first time for the last time. Both are these remarkably fast paced 3 hour epic-type films but they are all over the map man! If you were to sit and try to explain all the crap that takes place to someone who hasn't seen the film ("Wait, you mean there's a whole musical number with the daughter and live-in girlfriend for no reason whatsoever? Wait half of the dance movie takes place in a hospital ward?!""What are you saying? The DJ that a made a few cameos in the film suddenly worships the star he detested throughtout?""Wait Babs starts yammering on about having a baby in one scene 2/3rds of the way through and then they never talk about it again?!") they'd think you were snorting coke. Maybe that's how one can truly enjoy these films. One of you go buy a few grams and find out.