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.
Cast and crew
Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, Robert Carson
Fredric March Janet Gaynor Adolphe Menjou May Robson Andy Devine Lionel Stander Franklin Pangborn