Stardust (1974)

Stardust (1974)

“I’m an artist, not a bloody jukebox!”

An aspiring rock musician (David Essex) and his band receive support from their manager (Adam Faith) and a wealthy funder (Larry Hagman) in rocketing to fame — but will success lead to happiness or isolation for Essex?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Michael Apted Films
  • Musicians
  • Rise and Fall
  • Rock ‘n Roll

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary writes, this “cult film is an ambitious sequel to That’ll Be the Day, with Michael Apted replacing Claude Watham as director” and Adam Faith playing the role of carnie “Mike” (previously inhabited by Ringo Starr).

The film is primarily concerned with showing what happens when an obsessive following develops around a single star; in this case, “as his fame increases, Essex begins to feel increasingly that he’s a product” and “he learns not to trust anyone but the band members,” who in turn become increasingly resentful of their more peripheral roles. Meanwhile, as “Essex goes on to superstardom,” “he is alone, confused, [and] corrupted,” and “there is isolation, drugs, [and] tragedy.”

Peary points out that this film offers “a vivid, cynical look at the rock business and a Beatles-like group” — and while “there are few surprises in the film,” “it is extremely well done, compelling, and has credibility because real rock stars Essex (who does a solid job), Faith, Dave Edmunds, and Keith Moon play major roles.”

Peary adds that “everything has a nostalgic ring,” and he “particularly likes the early scenes when the group is playing other people’s music and is zipping around, feeling excited about having waxed its first record;” however, the “innocence of the era” is “shattered in America.”

I’m in agreement with Peary’s review. This movie is depressing but well-filmed, and features “a good score.” Watching Essex’s tragic trajectory here makes one grateful for all the talented superstars who have managed to find a way out of the trap of fame, and to craft a reasonable existence for themselves outside of the industry.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • David Essex as Jim MacLaine
  • Fine production design

Must See?
No, but it’s worth a look.


One thought on “Stardust (1974)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see, and in overall agreement with the assessment.

    Thanks largely to director Apted and the somewhat-more-active script, I felt a bit more engaged than with ‘That’ll Be The Day’. Still, that doesn’t mean that I find it particularly memorable.

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