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Cooper Roberts
Cooper Roberts

A Star Is Born(1954) !FREE!



By the time James Mason was cast, every major star had turned down Cukor, including Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando, and Montgomery Clift. James Mason jumped at the opportunity to appear ion this prestigious project, for which he would receive his best pay to date, $250,000 dollars. Cukor was pleased about Mason, whom he later described as hard-working, modest, and charming.




A Star Is Born(1954)



Cukor tried to ignore the rumors that Garland had fallen in love with the unwilling Mason. He knew that she had problems with Sid Luft, and he noticed how she went out of her way to please the handsome Britisher. Mason picked up on this, but tried to be very patient with her. Though both stars were gifted, in most other ways Cukor saw them as opposites. If Mason was the ultimate professional, always on time and ready with his lines, Garland was unreliable and unpredictable.


Most famously, Judy Garland found a terrible duality in her role in the 1954 version, directed by Cukor: At age 31, she saw herself both as the star ascendant, the talented ingenue Esther Blodgett, and the star in decline, Norman Maine. A Star is Born was intended as her comeback, four years after the suspension of her contract at MGM, following a suicide attempt.


The 1937 version, admittedly, spoke less to the aches of individual stars, but more to the ache of an era, created, as it was, during a period in which Hollywood acted as a beacon of light for America as it suffered through the Great Depression. Audiences not only flocked to the cinemas to find comfort and relief from their personal woes, but also to Los Angeles itself; young men and women turned up in droves to what had become a new kind of American West, hoping to find an escape from their own circumstances.


The first time A Star Is Born hit the silver screen was way back in the year 1937. The early Technicolor film was directed by William A. Wellman and starred celebrated actress Janet Gaynor opposite Fredric March. The script had four writers, including Dorothy Parker and her husband and writing partner Alan Campbell. Unique for its time in that it showed a gritty Hollywood story rather than digging for source material elsewhere, the film got excellent reviews for its novel plot and stellar performances.


Then, in 1954 the script was brought back for another iteration, this time starring Judy Garland in a career comeback, opposite English actor James Mason. Garland and the film received rave reviews once more, paving the way for the script to be dredged back up once again in 1976, with the Barbra Streisand-Kris Kristofferson duo taking the reins. The 1970s version was edgier in its already-edgy subject matter, and critics felt that it was a vehicle for the singer to perform, rather than a successful standalone plot. Streisand's voice carried the film rather than her acting performance, or the performances of the rest of the cast. While it was a massive box office hit, critics rated it dismally low, unlike the first two films, and the film that came after it.


In 2018 Bradley Cooper directed and starred in the most recent version of the film alongside worldwide pop sensation Lady Gaga. Taking the most creative liberties, the 2018 film strayed from the previous three versions in its music and plot, while making nods to the films that came before it.


While each film has its strengths and weaknesses, the fact that it's been reproduced so many times is a testament to the power of the central story. Viewers across generations can connect with the themes of fame and addiction, and love to watch the central star's arc of being plucked from obscurity to become a music sensation.


In the 1976 version of A Star is Born, Kris Kristofferson is anything but likable. An alcoholic washed-up rock star with seemingly zero redeeming qualities, his behavior towards Streisand's character is bordering on misogynistic. His character lacks all softness save for a tender bathtub scene that later became iconic, in which he lets Streisand paint his face with her makeup.


While it was one of the highest-grossing films of the year, perhaps hitching on Streisand's star and the legacy of the films preceding it, the tragic musical drama left much to be desired. The supporting cast includes Gary Busey, Paul Mazursky, and Joanne Linville, though none had impactful performances. Streisand no doubt has the pipes to pull anything off, but the songs themselves weren't memorable either, notwithstanding the test of time.


Revolutionary in its day for being one of the first stories made by Hollywood about Hollywood, the original A Star Is Born might feel extremely dated to modern audiences but is still hard to top in terms of the sheer power in the performances. Janet Gaynor and Fredric March truly nail the heartrending story of a rising starlet's troubled relationship with an alcoholic has-been who ultimately resorts to taking his life, leaving her to pick up the pieces. It's all the more impressive considering they had no prior film as source material to base their performances on, as they did it first, not having any idea what a phenomenon the film would become.


Many historians believe the romantic drama was inspired by the tumultuous marriage of Tinseltown stars Frank Fay and Barbara Stanwyck, as their romance was plagued by alcoholism, reported physical abuse and dueling egos. Stanwyck's success on the silver screen far exceeded her husband's, as the Broadway stage performer's career had difficulty translating to the cinema; her stardom skyrocketed and his declined during their union. A Star is Born story writer William A. Wellman was a close friend of the couple's and many claim he based the Oscar-winning film's dialogue on their relationship.


Judy Garland absolutely dazzles as the wannabe Hollywood starlet discovered by the older fading star, played by James Mason. The beats of the story, which unfold over three hours of runtime, manage to exhibit great range, seamlessly fluctuating from sweet moments to tragic ones and back again and again.


With earworms like "Shallow," as well as Lady Gaga's beautiful rendition of "La Vie en Rose," the pair truly did the musical genre justice, unlike the previous 1976 reboot. Elevating it to be by far and away the best in the collection is the unexpected chemistry between the pair, beautifully depicted in myriad tender moments with intimate close-up shots that contrast the sweeping views of the stars' on-stage musical performances. Furthermore, the supporting cast was star-studded and flawless, with everyone from Andrew Dice Clay, who played Lady Gaga's father, to Dave Chappelle, who played Cooper's friend, and even to Sam Elliot, who appeared as Cooper's older brother, on board.


I see you've redesigned the blog! Me too - I had fun tinkering with Blogger's new templates.As for Star is Born, I find it interesting that in all three versions, an over-30 actress (in all cases, one who's been famous for at least 10-15 years) plays the young starlet. It's as if, age of the character aside, they needed somebody who understood that hard ascent to stardoom and the loneliness after the applause fades, from the inside out.I haven't seen the Striesand version, but between the first two (wasn't there another one too somewhere along the way or am I making that up?) I prefer the William Wellman version from '36. Very economical but still moving.


Is it fair to comment on a post from 2 1/2 years ago? I've only just stumbled upon it.Here's what I think isn't fair: judging a performance as it appears within the body of a finished film by what is revealed in outtakes, any more than it would be to evaluate how convincing sets appear onscreen from behind-the-scenes photos betraying their artificiality.Garland's "mannered...physical tics" - which become apparent only by viewing those outtakes - are akin to the bare 2X4's never meant to be seen, but which are necessary to support what is. They're valuable in historic and scholarly examination of how a performance - like a set - is constructed, but is it really proper to bring them to bear upon an assessment of the finished product, which deserves judgment upon its own merits?I don't mean to pick at you, but I also thought MovieMan's observation wasn't given due consideration, and you're perhaps projecting something upon Garland's role which was not intended. Esther isn't really portrayed as an "ingenue;" she - as suggested in her signature song - has "been through the mill." There are no fewer than four scenes (five if one counts "Born In A Trunk") emphasizing "how many years it's taken [her] to get this far," and "worn down by life," as you put it, is an entirely appropriate feeling for the character to convey. It also works especially well in reinforcing both Esther's enduring optimism, in spite of the dues she's resigned to paying (a reworking of a central theme from the '37 version), and the credibility of a more-or-less "nobody" springing forth into full-blown stardom when "just a little luck" finally comes along.This Esther is no starry-eyed innocent (a la Gaynor); she's a seasoned and even cynical ("I know...it won't happen") pro who perseveres while fully aware of the odds against her, and I don't believe Garland's looks are in any way at odds with such an understanding of the character.


Which part is better? Both parts have memorable scenes and musical acts. In part one we are introduced to Ester Blodgett who later changes her name to Vicki Lester. She meets Norman Maine who helps in developing her Hollywood career. In part two, we continue to see Vicki Lester grow as a film star, but her now husband Norman continues to falter with substance abuse problems. Due to the content, musical pieces, and choices made by the protagonists part two is given the edge over part one.


Esther/Vicki and Norman fall in love and get married. But while her star is on the rise, his star is falling, and soon he is an unemployed alcoholic has-been. He manages to quit drinking for a while but winds up going on an epic bender, which eventually leads to tragedy. 041b061a72


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