Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Star is Born

Judy Garland sings Born in a Trunk
(part 1 -- part 2 below)

I have been busy filling in two of the gaping lacuna in my cultural awareness. I watched both the 1954 (Judy Garland & James Mason) and the 1976 (Barbara Striesand & Kris Kristopherson) remakes of A Star is Born for the first time.

I'm star struck.

No that is too glib and too cliche.

I'm thunderstruck.

Again with the cliche.

I'm gaga.

I give in. Sometimes words just can't be worthy.

I'd never seen Judy Garland in anything besides Wizard of Oz so this was a huge treat getting to hear how her voice and acting had matured into adulthood.

The film was just gorgeous all the way through. Not just the set of this musical number.

Barbara Streisand sings Watch Closely Now in the final scene of A Star is Born 1976

The scripts of the two movies were very different with only a handful of lines in common. The basic plot was quite similar but with definite differences due to changes in the culture in the intervening decades. In the first it was the 1950s Hollywood scene and in the second it was the 1970s rock and roll scene.

In both an aging star loosing his grip on his career discovers a new talent and paves her way to stardom. They fall in love. Against his better judgment he marries her and there is hope for a time that her love for him can anchor him and his for her redeem him. But he succumbs to jealousy as her star rises while his crashes and burns. Disgraceful behavior on his part nearly destroys her career and he realizes she is willing to sacrifice her stardom to continue what he sees as her hopeless attempts to save him from himself so he commits suicide.

Oh yes a hanky honker.

A bit of a spoiler that if you've never seen or heard of either one of these movies but not so much unless plot is the be all and end all of story for you because there is so much more to the story. To both stories.

Here Barbara performs one of my fav songs from the movie Woman in the Moon in 2006 just days after the elections that sent a record number of women to Congress--well over 70 between the two houses. We had zero the year A Star is Born was in theaters. The year I graduated high school.

The line in this song, 'I was raised in a no-you-don't' world.' gave me goosebumps.

I watched both of these now because I'd had them in my Netflix instant queue for months and was alerted earlier this week that they would stop streaming on the 19th. I had not been aware of the 1937 original film staring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March before it came up in my Netflix searches. It wasn't streaming so I put in my DVD queue. But while I was looking for clips of the 1954 and 1976 remakes to embed in this post I found that someone had posted the entire film of the original 1937 on YouTube. And it is embedable! At least for now.

So I'll probably be watching it tonight.

I understand it is not a musical like the other two and that the rumors are that the story is based on the real life story of Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Fay. I remember Stanwyck as an aging female bit part player or character actress in the sixties but I'd never heard of Frank Fay.

0 tell me a story:

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