A Star Is Born

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Despite 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.

By: TM

Release details

Duration: 111 mins

Cast and crew

Director: William Wellman
Screenwriter: Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, Robert Carson
Cast: Fredric March
Janet Gaynor
Adolphe Menjou
May Robson
Andy Devine
Lionel Stander
Franklin Pangborn
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