Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Star Is Born (1937)

A Star Is Born (1937)
seen online via YouTube

Hollywood marriages must seem fleeting and ephemeral to the average moviegoer sometimes. Relationships are forged between actors, or perhaps an actor and a celebrity in another field, last a few years, and then something goes wrong, whatever it may be, and then it's in all the papers. The relationships that stick, that last the longest, tend to be taken for granted, and they're certainly not talked about as much - Brad and Angelina being a notable exception, of course.

Generally, I don't pay much attention to the personal lives of the stars, though of course there are some couples that I have liked at one point or another. I liked Will Smith and Jada Pinkett before they started turning their kids into celebrities too. I also liked Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins; never would've imagined they'd break up but they did.

I can't think of too many current examples of a Hollywood couple in which one is on the rise and another is on the way down. Katie Holmes was already making movies and was known before she married Tom Cruise, and though he did have a dry spell for a few years before Mission: Impossible 4 last winter, she hasn't exactly set the world on fire either. And it wasn't like people suddenly forgot who Tom Cruise was when he was in his slump.

But maybe it was different back in the Golden Age of Hollywood. I can see why A Star Is Born has been done so many times throughout film history - it's the kind of story that helped fuel the Hollywood fantasy, that (white) stars can come from anywhere. That's still true, but this dream is no longer solely dependent on the studio system to make it possible. Now it looks like Clint Eastwood, of all people, wants to do another one. Not that I'm all that eager to see yet another version, but I am curious as to how much modern media in general and the internet in particular will play a part in Clint's version.

Fredric March's character made me think of the stories I've read about Spencer Tracy, who apparently was a notorious boozer throughout his career, and of course Janet Gaynor's character stands by him the way Katharine Hepburn stood by Tracy. It's all very romantic and tragic at the same time on the big screen, though in real life I imagine it's probably a hell of a lot rougher. Of course, one also can't help but also be reminded of The Artist, even though this takes place entirely in the sound era of film and the ending is quite different. It's enjoyable, for what it is.


  1. I'll be watching the '54 remake of this tomorrow. I've read some synopses of the story and also thought of the Hepburn-Tracy parallel. I'm looking forward to tomorrow now, thanks!

  2. Judy's version may be the best, although having seen this one now, I'd say the difference is close.

  3. I'm guessing the print you saw on YouTube of this public domain film looked nowhere as good as the publicity stills accompanying your post. Kino did just release a DVD restoration that's reportedly somewhat better than the prints that have been circulating for years, but not substantially so.

  4. You're right; it didn't look as good. YouTube tends to be hit or miss a lot of the time with the classic films available there.


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