The Four Previous Versions of “A Star Is Born”(Plus the Real Story)

Posted on September 27, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Copyright Warner Brothers 2018
One of the biggest films of the year is the latest version of “A Star is Born,” written and directed by Bradley Cooper and co-starring Cooper and Lady Gaga. The story of the fading star with substance abuse problems who helps — and loves — a talented newcomer has been filmed under that title twice before, and once before that as “What Price Hollywood?” And it is inspired by the true story of two of the biggest names in show business in the 1920’s-30’s.

What Price Hollywood? George Cukor directed the version starring Constance Bennet as a Brown Derby waitress who meets director Lowell Sherman when she waits on him at the restaurant. While this is not explicitly the source of the following versions, and the waitress and director do not get married (because he is too noble), the essence of the story is all there, including (SPOILER ALERT) the suicide of the male character.

A Star is Born

Dorothy Parker and her husband were two of the scriptwriters who worked on the glossy drama starring Frederic March and Janet Gaynor that has been the basis for three remakes (so far). She’s a waitress who catches the eye of a fading movie star. He gets her a screen test, the studio changes her name, he embarrasses her at an award ceremony, and when his drinking gets worse, she quits her job to care for him.

A Star is Born

Broadway legend Moss Hart contributed to this musical update, again directed by George Cukor, starring Judy Garland and James Mason. It’s long and unwieldy (some excised scenes were partially added for re-release), but it has unforgettable moments like this one.

A Star is Born

Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson star in the 1976 version, which won an Oscar for Best Song. Reportedly, she tried to persuade Elvis Presley to take the role.

A Star is Born

Bradley Cooper says he was inspired to make the film by being backstage at a Metallica concert. He wrote, directed and stars opposite Lady Gaga. She may repeat her predecessor’s experience with a Best Song Oscar for this one.

Certainly there are many possible inspirations for the story, but most people think that one of the likeliest possibilities is the marriage of Al Jolson, one of the biggest stars in the country during the era of vaudeville and radio, and Ruby Keeler, who became a huge star in the early days of talkies.

Related Tags:

 

Film History For Your Netflix Queue Get Your Handkerchiefs Ready Lists Movie History Original Version

Ann Hornaday Updates the Movie Canon

Posted on August 21, 2018 at 8:11 pm

The Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday wrote about the new “canon” films, the ones she thinks will be ranked with the best there ever were.  Of course any list or ranking will cause more debate than it leaves out, but it is fun to see which films she thinks will show up “Vertigo” and “Citizen Kane” in future “best of all times” lists.  Her list includes acclaimed films like “Spirited Away,” “Boyhood,” “Children of Men,” and “Pan’s Labyrinth,” but what makes it fun to read are her descriptions of what makes each film so memorable.

Related Tags:

 

For Your Netflix Queue Lists

Movie MVP of the Month: American Sign Language in “Rampage” and “A Quiet Place”

Posted on April 11, 2018 at 8:22 am

Two April movies feature ASL (American Sign Language), the beautiful, complex language based on hands, gestures, and facial expressions that is used by Deaf and non-speaking people in America and English-speaking Canada. “A Quiet Place” is about a family trying to survive in a world overrun with vicious blind animals who attack by using their hyper-acute hearing. So they communicate via ASL, which they all know because they have a Deaf daughter, played by Deaf actress Millicent Simmonds of “Wonderstruck.”

In this week’s “Rampage,” the primatologist played by Dwayne Johnson uses ASL to communicate with an ape called George, along the lines of the famous experiments with Koko the gorilla and Washoe the chimp.

And the 2017 Oscar-winner for Best Picture and Best Director was “The Shape of Water,” which also featured ASL, as Sally Hawkins played a mute woman who communicated with a highly evolved amphibian.

Other movies featuring character using ASL to communicate include: “Children of a Lesser God,” “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” “Johnny Bedelia,” “The Miracle Worker,” and “Baby Driver.”

Related Tags:

 

Disabilities and Different Abilities Film History Lists Movie History Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Movies for Women’s History Month

Posted on March 8, 2018 at 7:56 pm

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists has assembled an outstanding list of films by and about women to watch for Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day, or just anytime you want to see a good movie.

There are some well-loved classics, of course, like “Alien” and “Norma Rae.” There are some surprising choices like Douglas Sirk’s “Imitation of Life,” too often dismissed as a soapy “women’s picture” in the most dismissive sense of the term. I was delighted to see last year’s “Step” and “Their Finest” on the list, along with underappreciated gems like “Made in Dagenham” and documentaries like “Without Lying Down,” the story of pioneering screenwriter Frances Marion from the silent era to the Golden Age of Hollywood. Enjoy!

Related Tags:

 

Film History Gender and Diversity Lists Movie History Neglected gem

Movies to Ring in the New Year — Happy 2018!

Posted on December 29, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Copyright MGM 1938

Some movies to help celebrate the new year:

Garry Marshall’s “New Year’s Eve” shows us a variety of happy, poignant, and romantic encounters on the night of December 31.

“When Harry Met Sally” has a memorable New Year’s Eve dance.

Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn “step into a waltz as the old year dies” while the fancy society engagement party for him and her sister goes on downstairs.

Best Picture Oscar winner “The Apartment” has Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine playing what might be sweetest card game in movie history. “Shut up and deal.”

“200 Cigarettes” follows several stories that take place in New York City on New Year’s Eve 1981.

A New Year’s Eve celebration goes very wrong when a tsunami hits the cruise ship on “The Poseidon Adventure.”

Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, and Jamie Leigh Curtis take a train ride on New Year’s Eve in “Trading Places.”

Other movies with New Year’s Eve scenes: “About Time,” “The Holiday,” “The Godfather Part II,” “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” and “Rent.”

Happy new year! Here’s hoping for health and happiness — and lots of good movies — for all.

Related Tags:

 

Holidays Lists
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2019, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik