Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Fourth 'A Star in Born' Movie

The newest  A Star is Born movie is surprisingly good. The story is obviously a good vehicle that can be adapted to suit the different times when each film was made. I have never seen the first one--starring Frederic March and Janet Gaynor--but the early 1950's production with Judy Garland and James Mason was definitely a classic, both for the acting and Garland's peerless singing. The Barbra Streisand--Kris Kristofferson 1976 version, which I also did not see, sounds like it was all right as a vehicle for both leads, who of course emphasized the singing. 

The biggest surprise of the current film is the discovery that Bradley Cooper can sing, and sing well. Lady Gaga's ability to act probably deserves equal billing here, too. Sam Elliott was excellent in a major supporting role, one that Gary Busey portrayed in the Streisand production.

It was delightful to watch Cooper and Lady G perform as singers and musicians, which lent the picture extra verisimilitude. After all, this is something of a threadbare plot that in lesser hands, should have been laid to rest. I'm not a great believer in remakes but the fact that there have been so many of this vehicle and that the latest is really good is the exception that proves the rule.

It was amazing that both leads here held my attention fully. In the most classic Garland-Mason film, one recalls Garland's singing and Mason's acting, both superb. That picture also had the "inside Hollywood" flavor which worked well for it that fortunately was not something the current movie even aimed to duplicate. Instead, it was geared to today's show business milieu.

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