It’s around this time of year when movie studios begin to release the films they hope will be in the running for next year’s awards season. One of the movies that is getting early “Oscar Buzz” is A Star is Born, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Bradley Cooper also directed the film; his first one.
Did you know that A Star is Born is a remake of a remake of a remake? It’s true. The original A Star is Born was released in 1937. It was remade in 1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason, and again in 1976 with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Each version tells the same basic story of a grizzled down-and-out celebrity who mentors a new, fresh talent, and as the popularity and success of the new talent rises, the career of the established character burns out. (Sorry about the spoilers for an 80 year old story that’s been told four different times).
In the original, the action is based in Hollywood and tells the story of a young woman who rises out of obscurity and makes it big as a star of the silver screen. Fun fact: the 1937 version was the first colour movie to get nominated for Best Picture. You can watch on WPL’s digital services Hoopla and Kanopy. In the 1954 version, musical numbers abound as Judy Garland’s character transforms from the leader of a musical ensemble into a star of movie musicals. The following remake (1976) ditches Hollywood and makes the mentor character a drug-addled alcoholic rock star (Kristofferson) who discovers the titular star who gets born (Streisand) and the usual twists and turns insue.
The newest take on this well-worn tale appears to have Bradley Cooper as a country singer and Lady Gaga as a pop singer. It played at the Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews, and goes to show that, like interesting covers of classic songs, some stories can be told again and again (and again).