ABSTRACT

To what extent, in our relations with stars, can we dare to rely on our agreeable, often indispensable old impressions? Do we trust the reminders of what we know about a star above the competing awareness that some substantial inner break with the past has occurred? The lingering signs of the person we once were sure of seem to fl oat away from us through an obscuring haze. The force of the familiar, in other words, is mantled with a strangeness that seems either to have supplanted what was formerly “the real person” or to have vexingly blocked access to it, for the time being. In observing Humphrey Bogart’s Dixon Steele assaulting Gloria Grahame in the fi nal scene of In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950), for example, do we attempt to rehabilitate our sense of Bogart’s poise, loyalty and emotional assurance (as established in Casablanca [Michael Curtiz, 1942]) after it is convincingly undone by a murderous jealous rage? What becomes of a delightful person whose capacity for giving and receiving delight has been severely tampered with? This is linked to the larger question: can a star with a fi rmly established persona shed this persona completely when he or she ventures into a territory alien to it?