Roger Thomas Review: A new opinion was born
There have been four film adaptations of “A Star Is Born.”
The first was made in 1937. Janet Gaynor played Esther Victoria Blodgett, and used the shorter version of her name, Vicki Lester. Fredric March played Norman Maine, an actor who had seen better days before his problem with alcohol. The story was set in Hollywood.
The second version was made in 1954 and starred Judy Garland. Garland was not going down a “yellow brick road” in this film. Rather, she was building a film career while she was involved with an aging actor who once again had a drinking problem. James Mason was the love interest of Garland’s rising star in the second film.
The third version was the first one I ever saw. It debuted in 1976. I was 13 when it came out and the film was rated R. I did not see it until later; I think when I was in college, so it was probably five years later. In this third version Kris Kristofferson played a musician whose life and career were going downhill. Then he met Esther Hoffman, played by Barbra Streisand.
And now there is a fourth adaptation.
I should start by pointing out the fact that I have not been a fan of Lady Gaga before I saw this film.
I liked Streisand from other films before I ever saw her in “A Star Is Born.” I was particularly a big fan of Streisand’s film “What’s Up Doc?” when I was a pre-teen.
As for Gaga I have not be exposed to much of her music or her acting. And I am ashamed to admit that I went into the theatre thinking I was not going to like this film and it would all be the fault of the female lead.
That is not the right way to approach any film. They all deserve the benefit of the doubt at least 10 or 15 minutes.
But I was reluctant.
However, I ended up absolutely surprised. From the first note of her voice, I was stunned by her beautiful music. Why have I not been listening to the Lady earlier?
There are not enough adjectives for me to describe how much I enjoyed her singing in the film.
On top of that, her acting in the dramatic scenes is outstanding. Sign me up for whatever film Lady Gaga is doing next.
However, there is talent beyond Gaga. Bradley Cooper steps into the shoes of Fredric March, James Mason and Kris Kristofferson. He also stepped into a big project. Not only did he star as the male lead, Cooper directed the film.
And what a job he did.
All of these elements, the history, the new generation’s ideas, the wonderful casting and the great music, it all adds up to something special.
And when awards season rolls around, I am pretty sure the two leads will get nominations and I would be pleased if they win. Cooper should also get a nod for his outstanding direction.
I am not sure how many of the songs are originals for the film, but surely at least one of the songs will get recognition. And as for the big prize, Best Picture, it is way too early to tell, but it would be nice for a musical to finally win again.
One can probably realize I like this film and I do. I always like films that celebrates love. There are big loud musical moments and I love each and every one of them.
I also like the quieter and gentler moments.
There are also harsh moments and moments that are only for mature audiences. But all put together, the film is nearly perfect.
And if you are wondering, amazon.com has the three earlier versions of “A Star Is Born.” That is the makings of a good home film festival one rainy weekend.
And when this new version is released, you will have a complete set.
Roger W. Thomas of Albemarle reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.
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