Hollywood has often been dubbed “The Land of Broken Dreams,” and considering the tragic fallen star of the space adventure/comedy, Galaxina, one begins to truly comprehend that tag.
Heading into the 1980s, lovely Galaxina star Dorothy Stratten was Playboy’s Playmate of the Year, and a celebrated guest-star on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979 – 1981) in the episode “Cruise Ship to the Stars.”
Most importantly, the performer was successfully making the difficult leap to “A”-list film projects, a transition that would ultimately be appreciated by movie critics such as Vincent Canby. He noted of Stratten in Peter Bogdonavich’s They All Laughed (1981) that she “possessed a charming screen presence and might possibly have become a first-rate comedienne with time and work.”
Alas, you may recall the unhappy ending of this story.
Dorothy Stratten was murdered in 1980 by her estranged husband, Paul Snider. Almost instantly, Stratten became a household name all right, but as the “true crime” victim in productions such as the TV-movie Death of a Centerfold (1981) starring Jamie Lee Curtis, and Bob Fosse’s Star 80 (1983) starring Mariel Hemingway.
Watching Galaxina even today — thirty years later — you can’t help but mourn Stratten. Galaxina is a low-budget, science fiction romp — low-brow, raunchy and scattershot — and yet Stratten’s presence is the glue that holds the chaotic thing together. She is on-screen rarely in the first half of the film, barely speaks throughout the second half, and — as a “robot” — is not even really called on to emote much.
Yet, Stratten possessed that special something that can make or break a movie star. Even playing an emotionless machine in a bad, low-budget movie, Stratten had that sparkle in her eye, and could readily hold the attention of the viewer.
As for the movie itself, I wish very much I could make some positive comment here, but truth be told, Galaxina is a pretty unfunny, uninspiring, witless affair.
In fact, Galaxina makes me think I was probably too rough on Spacehunter (1983) a few weeks back. By point of comparison, that 1983 film is a masterpiece in forging atmosphere and crafting imaginary worlds. There, at least, there was evidence of some authentic thought and consistency about the movie’s larger universe.
No such luck here.
What little of interest exists in Galaxina mostly involves Stratten’s performance, and her nice chemistry with co-star Stephen Macht. Even as an adolescent genre sex fantasy in the vein of Barbarella (1968) or Starcrash (1978), Galaxina remains a crushing failure…a bore.
As The New York Times opined “some of the ads for ”Galaxina” suggest that it is sexy; it is not.”
That’s a blunt but accurate assessment of the film. I rarely write so negatively about a film — especially one with a cult following — but this is a really, really weak movie.