A Star is Born (1937)
Release year: 1937
Director: William A. Wllman, Jack Conway
Screenwriters: Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, Robert Carson, William A. Wellman (based on a story by), Robert Carlson (based on a story by)
Starring: Janet Gaynor, Fredric March, Adolphe Menjou, May Robson, Andy Devine, Lionel Stander, Owen Moore, Peggy Wood
Ratings: 2 Oscars: Best Original Story, Honorary Award (W. Howard Greene). 6 Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Fredric March), Best Actress (Janet Gaynor), Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Assistant Director.
Esther (Gaynor) moves to Hollywood with the support of her beloved grandmother (Robson), pursuing her dream of a career in the silver screen. The sweet girl soon makes friends but struggles getting her chance as an actress. But then she meets Norman Maine (March); an alcoholic leading man. Smitten with the young girl, Norman gives her the hand she needs and much more than that.
A Star is Born is suck a classic, dramatic and good story, that it has been remade nothing less than three times. For some reasons all the remakes are about a singer/actress, but here, in the original, it is an actress struggling to make her way in Hollywood. Film historians have speculated that the story is inspired by real life, with both Barbara Stanwyck, Frank Fay and John Bowers mentioned as inspirations. No matter where the inspiration has come from, most will agree that the story is a heartfelt story with great characters. The petit Gaynor (Street Angel, 1928) was one of the few stars from the silent movie era who made successfully made the transformation into talkies and with her role as Esther, she gave one of the best performances of her career and it is a shame she a few movies later retired from the business. At first she seems like just one of the million girls she in the movie is told is trying to become a star, but soon she wins us over, making the performance extremely convincing. Watching her and March (The Best Years of Our Lives, 1946) together is pure cinematic joy and their screen chemistry is the biggest reason for the emotional impact of the last part of the movie. Esther’s grandmother is only present in the first and the last part of the movie, making her almost function as a frame to the story of Esther’s life in Hollywood. The fact that Robson (Bringing Up Baby, 1938) plays her with such strength and care only enhances this impression. With strong characters and a convincing and dramatic story, A Star is Born is a classic for the ages. One can compare it with the later remakes, but it will always stand out and hold its own, as a true classic does.
The first all-color film nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.
The Oscar that Janet Gaynor receives in the film is her own Oscar, which she won for her role in 7th Heaven (1927).
The original title for the movie was It Happened In Hollywood.
Picture copyrights: Warner Home Video