28 August 2009

The Rose

Directed by Mark Rydell
Script by Michael Cimino (uncredited) & Bo Goldman, based on a story by Bill Kerby
125 mins 1979
Bette Midler plays Mary Rose Foster
Alan Bates plays Rudge Campbell
Frederick Forrest plays Huston Dyer
Michael Greer plays emcee
Kenny Sacha plays Rose impersonator
Sylvester plays Diana Ross impersonator
Claude Sacha plays impersonator
Michael St Laurent plays impersonator
Country of finance: US
Nationality of director: US
Location of story: New York, Florida
Filming location: New York, Los Angeles


Rose Foster is and is not Janice Joplin. She is a big blues singer in the 1960s given to self-destructive behaviour. She is kept going by the bullying of her manager, Rudge. She takes up with Huston, an AWOL-soldier cum chauffeur, and then drives him away. One of the best scenes is 40 minutes into the film when she takes Huston into a supposed gay bar where she used to work, and the drag performers pull her on stage to sing with them.

Who is who

This is Bette Midler’s first real film. She had first made her name singing at the gay Continental Baths in New York. She went on to become a big star as a singer and actor.

Alan Bates is a distinguished English actor who started in the 1950s. He was awarded a CBE in 1996. In The Rose he does not attempt a US accent. He has never played a drag or transgendered role.

The club emcee is Michael Greer who was in The Gay Deceivers, 1969, and was the flamboyant prison drag queen in Fortune and Men’s Eyes, 1971 (on both stage and film). He has worked only infrequently since the 1970s, probably because he was so good in Fortune and Men’s Eyes that he was typecast.

For Kenny Sacha this was his first film. In the next five years he did Bette Midler impersonators in the television shows Madame’s Place and Simon & Simon, and and was a female impersonator in Miss Lonelyhearts, 1983. After that he played a few male roles, but died in 1992 of AIDS.

Sylvester is Sylvester James, who was The Cockettes in the early 1970s, and went on to become a famous disco singer. His biggest hit was "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)". He died in 1988. He contined doing drag until the end.

Claude Sacha appeared in only this film. One wonders if he is Kenny Sacha’s brother?

Michael St Laurent appeared in only this film. One wonders if he is part of the St Laurent voguing house featured in Paris is Burning, 1990?


The crowd in the gay bar does not look gay.

There are 6 drag queens/performers in the club, but only 5 are credited.

When the emcee removes his dress, he is wearing a white tuxedo underneath. However when he was in the dress we do not see trousers underneath, and he is not shown rolling down the legs.


s. mcdonald said...

I don't think that the club where the impersonators were performing was a *gay bar*. It was more or less based on a popular club in NYC at the time called *Club 82* that played to a very mixed clientele that included many straight tourists.

sherry k said...

claude and kenny are the same person. claude sacha was a stage name he worked under. i worked on a production of "french dressing" in Jax.Fl. in 1976. Kenny was the main attraction, doing both Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand. It was a blast.
RIP all you beautiful people from the days before we knew.

Zagria said...

IMDB still claim Claude and Kenny as two persons.

admiral said...

Looking for a video clip of this scene. Loved it.

Unknown said...

Kenny is only playing Barbra. You might be asking, “How does this Biatch know?” You’re right to think that. Every afternoon at lunchtime in H.S. (PA/Performing Arts) - with Richard Sohl (of Patti Smith fame) - Kenny would invariably grace us with his Bette or Barbra. Could this 6th unnamed person be playing Bette?

And yes, by the mid - late 70’s these clubs went mainstream in NYC. I remember my parents(!) inviting me to see Kenny perform.