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Film / The Rose

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"She gave... And gave... And gave. Until she had nothing left to give."

A 1979 film directed by Mark Rydell and starring Bette Midler in her first film appearance as a vulnerable, self-destructive rock singer looking for love. The supporting cast includes Alan Bates, Frederic Forrest, and Harry Dean Stanton.


  • Abusive Parents: Rose's parents. One of whom is played by Doris Roberts (Mrs. Foster/Rose's mother).
  • The Alcoholic: Rose is always seen drinking from a bottle.
  • Anachronism Stew: In the club where Rose joins the drag version of herself on stage, they sing "The Fire Down Below" by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. The song was released in 1976, but the movie is set in 1969.
  • Artistic License Pharmacology: The Rose shoots up heroin in a phone booth, even though she has no water - a necessity for intravenous usage of a powdered narcotic.
  • Award-Bait Song: The title tune, sung by Midler, is actually an aversion; because composer Amanda McBroom hadn't written the song specifically for the movie, it was ineligible for Academy Award consideration. (It did win Midler a Grammy Award, however, and became a massive hit.)
  • "Awkward Silence" Entrance: The diner is full of laughter from the patrons but immediately goes quiet when Rose enters. She is shunned because she's a hippie.
  • Bisexual Love Triangle: A brief one between Houston, Rose and Sarah.
  • Blatant Lies: "This is my old friend Sarah".
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Several between Rose and Houston throughout the film.
  • Broken Bird: Rose. In spite of her success, her personal life is lonely and exhausting.
  • Broken Pedestal: Rose meets with country music star Billy Ray, whom she idolizes and whose songs she often covers in live shows. Billy Ray cruelly demands that she never perform his music again, and he rudely dismisses her.
  • Broken Tears: Rose has these, whether she's giving an emotional performance on stage, arguing with her manager or her boyfriend and other personal struggles.
  • Think of the Censors!: Just before going on stage Rose is told, several times, not to say, "Motherfucker." due to important critics watching. Of course, the first words out of her mouth once she gets on stage are, "Hi you motherfuckers!"
  • Destructive Romance: Due to several factors (drugs, promiscuity, fame, ect.), the relationship between Rose and Houston eventually turns violent through the course of the movie.
  • Died Standing Up: Rose actually dies on her feet. It takes a few seconds for her body to collapse.
  • Downer Ending: Rose loses her boyfriend, indulges in a fatal combination of heroin, alcohol and barbiturates, and dies onstage during what was supposed to be her comeback concert.
  • Downer Beginning: The film opens with Rose's spoken dialogue and her parents looking over their daughter's estate following her overdose. Also How We Got Here.
  • Driven to Suicide: Heartbroken from her breakup with Houston, Rose decides to indulge in a fatal combination of heroin, alcohol and barbiturates before her last concert.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Rose's first scene is of her stumbling out of a plane dropping a bottle of booze.
  • Foreshadowing: Remember the tear-stricken out-of-breath opening monologue by Rose in the beginning? Oh God. Once you seen the whole movie (up to the film's tragic ending), the film's opening will make a lot of sense and a lot of tears.
  • In Love with Love: Rose tells the crowd how much she loves to be in love.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Rose is an insecure alcoholic and former drug user who seems to crave approval in her life.
  • Interrupted Intimacy:
    • After her concert, Rose and Houston start celebrating. Kissing as they walk together backstage. It's implied that if her old friend Sarah hadn't been there, they would've gone further.
    • Later, Houston walks in on Rose and Sarah making out in the bathroom.
  • Lady Killer In Love: Rudge assumes that Huston is just another hanger-on, but Rose feels she has finally met her true love.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Rose's "old friend" Sarah and Rose herself, though actually a lipstick bisexual.
  • Love Triangle: Several examples, but the main one is Rose's choice between Houston and her desire for fame.
  • Morality Pet: Houston is this to Rose. Once he leaves, it all goes straight to hell.
  • Never Accepted in His Hometown : Rose wants desperately to return to her hometown a success. It doesn't go well for her.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Rose is basically a thinly-veiled version of Janis Joplin. The project began life as a Joplin Biopic called Pearl.
  • Oscar Bait: As Rose, Bette Midler sings, she gets strung out, and she dies. Midler was nominated for Best Actress but lost to Sally Field (Norma Rae).
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Rose falls to her knees and screams this crying when Houston has had enough and leaves her.
  • Public Bathhouse Scene: After an argument, Rose goes looking for Houston inside a men's public bathhouse. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Lots of all three. During the first on-screen concert, it's even a "crowd chant".
  • The '60s: The film is set in 1969...
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Rose lampshades this trope talking about how women are kept in the house by their man rattling pots and pans.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Rose repeats her intention to take a one-year break from performing, leading Rudge to tell her she will be in breach of contract.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Houston after being hit by Rose during their last fight together.
  • Slut-Shaming: Inverted when Rose tells Houston the football story, then played straight in the western bar.
  • Skewed Priorities: Despite her manager's attempts to take her to a hospital and get treatment for her overdose, Rose decides she'd rather give a comeback concert instead. It turned out to be her last.
  • Stage Mom: Her manager Rudge is aware of her fragile state, but does nothing to intervene. He just keeps milking her career by booking her into show after show.
  • The Last Dance: Rather than seek help for her heroin and barbiturate overdose, Rose decides to just go on stage and give her comeback concert for all her fans.
  • The Last Straw: After being slapped by Rose one too many times during arguments, Houston decided he's had enough and hitches a ride out of town away from her.
  • The Tragic Rose: Rose herself, of course, to the fullest use of the trope. The film's titled after her stage name, and after a series of heartbreaks and other misfortunes, she collapses and dies of an overdose on stage in the first few minutes of her homecoming concert.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Rose calls heroin "cookies and milk" when her manager gives her a dose to push through her hunger and physical exhaustion.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Rose and Sarah.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Houston to Rose, after her behavior in the western bar.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Believing her concert is cancelled, Rose decides to run away and start a new life with Huston. Unbeknownst to Rose, this is only a ploy by her manager to ensure that she performs the show.
  • Your Makeup Is Running: Rose's makeup runs from crying.