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Saturday, June 10, 2017

'Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story' DVD: Model Version of 'What's Love Got to Do With It'

The Warner Archive DVD release of the sweeps month November 1981 Made-for-TV movie "Death of a Centerfold" is an apt second entry in this series of summer reviews of vintage Archive releases. This small-screen version of the 1983 film "Star 80" that depicts the story of murdered Playboy model/aspiring actress Dorothy Stratten (Jamie Lee Curtis) follows a look at the Archive DVD release of "Triple Cross," which is a Christopher Plummer theatrical release of a biopic of WWII spy Eddie Chapman.

The titular pinup gal essentially is a waitress in a cocktail bar when sleazy small-time crook Paul Snider (Bruce Weitz of "Hill Street Blues") first meets her and ultimately turns her into someone new. The full story is that naive recent high-school graduate Dorothy is working in a Vancouver ice cream shop when Snider discovers/quickly seduces/exploits her. The master manipulator knows which buttons to push and essentially shames her into posing for the nude photos that launch her career.

In true Ike and Tina Turner style, Dorothy becoming a star in her own right infuriates an insecure and jealous Paul. The menacing behavior of the latter to the kitten of the former is harrowing to anyone with any warm feelings toward pets.

A fun TV-movie style element of a subplot has "Brady Bunch" star Robert Reed play film executive/Playboy Mansion hanger-on David Palmer. The personal and professional interests of Palmer regarding Dorothy led to his taking her under both his wing and his roof. Needles to say husband of obligation in a marriage in which love has very little to do with Peter does not take kindly to the Dorothy/David relationship.

Folks who are familiar with the events on which "Centerfold" is based know how things work out but will enjoy the wonderfully campy presentation of the events that lead up to that outcome. Folks to whom all this is new will enjoy the suspense regarding whether Dorothy lives happily ever after or becomes the basis for a stop on a Hollywood death tour.

The lesson of this tale (as well as of most of the other real-life cases in which a discovery outshines her discoverer) is that any literally or figuratively small-town girl who meets a Prince Charming who promises her a fairy-tale life of fame, fortune, and true love must proceed with extreme caution and have an exit strategy.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Centerfold" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.