A Star Is Born
Time Out saysDespite the tragic ending, Cukor's remake of A Star Is Born is primarily a glowingly nostalgic evocation of Hollywood knowhow and razz-matazz, with Garland's musical numbers blending effortlessly with the gala premieres, Oscar ceremonies, and privileged moments on set. Wellman's non-musical version (attractively shot in the early Technicolor process), though starting more sentimentally with Gaynor as a wide-eyed innocent dreaming every girl's dream of stardom in her small-town home, develops a much more caustic edge, maintaining a bitterly critical distance from the dream factory. This is no doubt because in 1937 the real-life tragedies that fuelled the script were so much closer in time (Esther Blodgett and Norman Maine were inspired by the story of Colleen Moore and her husband/producer John McCormick, though March's Maine, here an actor, draws variously on the fates of John Gilbert, John Barrymore and John Bowers). The two films make fascinating comparison.