Printer Friendly

Born again; One of Hollywood's favourite sob stories has just been remade for the third time. Here, MARION MCMULLEN looks at the enduring appeal of A Star Is Born.


FADING star on the way down meets talented newcomer on the way up and they fall in love, but fickle fame is waiting around the corner to trip up the romance.

Wisecracking American satirist Dorothy Parker was one of the co-writers of the original A Star Is Born movie, released in 1937.

Her contribution ensured the dialogue was sharp and snappy, but there was never going to be a happy ending for the movie's two lovers.

Janet Gaynor and Fredric March played the leads - and the movie was originally going to be called It Happened In Hollywood. There was a lot of speculation as to which Tinseltown couple were the real-life inspiration behind the story.

It was the first full colour move to be nominated for a Best Film Oscar, Janet was nominated for Best Actress and it eventually took home the Academy Award for Best Screenplay.

Less than two decades later former child star Judy Garland and James Mason tackled A Star Is Born with their 1954 version of the doomed love story. The project was part of a three-picture deal arranged by Judy's third husband Sid Luft, who was also the movie's producer.

Laurence Olivier, Cary Grant, Richard Burton, Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra and James Stewart were all considered for the male lead and legend has it that director George Cukor also approached Marlon Brando on the movie set of Julius Caesar.

"Why would you come to me?" asked Brando. "I'm in the prime of my life. If you're looking around for some actor to play an alcoholic has-been he's sitting right over there" and he pointed at his co-star James Mason.

Mason did get the part and was reportedly paid $12,000 a week, but reflected: "Judy Garland was the lowest paid star in The Wizard Of Oz. Only Toto got paid less."

Filming took place over 10 months and both James Mason and Judy Garland went on to be nominated for Oscars for their strong performances.

Judy was unable to attend the awards ceremony because she was in hospital after giving birth to her third child, Joey Luft, but Groucho Marx described it as a "robbery" that she did not win the Best Actress Oscar - the award went instead to Grace Kelly for The Country Girl in a closely contested vote.

Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson gave A Star Is Born a modern music twist in 1976 with Kris playing a has-been rock star and Barbra an exciting new singer on the scene.

It was one of the highest-grossing movies of the year and won a clutch of top awards including an Oscar for the song Evergreen. The movie's rock concert scenes were shot before a 47,000 crowd at the Sun Devil Stadium in Arizona.

Barbra's first choice for her co-star though had originally been Elvis Presley and she went to meet him in Las Vegas to talk about the role.

Kris Kristofferson later bluntly said: "Filming with Streisand is an experience which may have cured me of the movies."

The Hangover's Bradley Cooper has co-written and directed the latest version of A Star Is Born and co-stars alongside Stefani Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga.

In cinemas this week, some of the concert scenes were filmed last year on Glastonbury's Pyramid Stage and Bradley later thanked the audience saying: "You guys were awesome. That was great" before introducing Kris Kristofferson for his set.

James Mason always contended that the 1954 version is hard to beat, and the film is now considered a Hollywood classic.

The British actor once said: "Ours was a little thrown out of kilter because it became centred on the activities of a musical performer, who happened to be the less important of the two characters. However, ours survives, and ours has become a classic because Judy was such an extraordinary performer. It's a wonderful film."

The restored version, featuring many lost musical numbers, received its world premiere at New York's Radio City Musical Hall in 1983.

Judy Garland's daughters, Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft, were both in the audience and had to be taken to a dressing room afterwards ... it took them 20 minutes to stop crying after the emotional screening.

Janet Gaynor, left, and Fredric March played the leads in the original 1937 picture which was going to be called It Happened In Hollywood. There was a lot of speculation as to which Tinseltown couple were the real-life inspiration behind the story.


Top: James Mason, pictured, said of the 1954 version of the film "ours has become a classic because Judy [Garland] was such an extraordinary performer". Bottom: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga star in the 2018 version

Main: Judy Garland played rising star Esther Blodgett in George Cukor's 1954 version of the classic tale. Above: Janet Gaynor and Fredric March in the 1937 film

Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson had a stormy relationship on and off the screen
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2018 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Manchester Evening News (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Date:Oct 6, 2018
Previous Article:talk about a killer wardrobe.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |