Share every sharing options for: exactly how — and why — A Star Is Born came to be one that Hollywood’s many remade story


Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, and Lady Gaga have each played a rising star in a version of A Star Is Born.

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This story is part of a group of stories dubbed
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Janet Gaynor in the an initial A Star Is Born. United Artists however looking beyond particular plot beats, the always, at heart, a story around what the takes to it is in a celebrity in America, as well as what seeks does come close relationships. The faces, details, settings, and also character an ideas may every vary, however A Star Is Born keeps getting remade for a reason: it’s a story that romance and also mortality, through a swooning arc that boundaries on epic. It feels for this reason familiar, therefore archetypal, that it seems almost as if someone must additionally have sculpted it into cave walls in ancient France, or drawn it in picture writing on part Sumerian scroll.

But of course, that not an ancient story — that one that relies on the distinctive machinations of the American celebrity-making machine. No wonder it’s proven so attractive come the filmmakers and actors who save retelling the story, retooling it for another generation.

There room actually five Hollywood execution of the story — the very first one is simply a tiny different in some an essential details, and also doesn’t have actually the same title. And while castle each transition focus and change certain details, the allure remains the same, an especially to Academy Awards voters, that nominated the first four films in multiple categories and also seem likely to perform the same with the newest version.

So if you want to recognize what’s many interesting about the 2018 A Star Is Born — and why the story keeps being transformed — it’s precious looking at every of its predecessors, which intersect in dramatic and also even tragic ways with the resides of the civilization who made them.

What Price Hollywood? (1932): The one whereby they don’t acquire together

Director: George Cukor

Writer: Gene Fowler and also Rowland Brown, adjusted from a story through Adela Rogers St. Johns

Starring: Constance Bennett and Lowell Sherman

Oscars: One nomination for ideal Story


The legend: part film buffs speak to 1932’s What Price Hollywood? the true first version that A Star Is Born, because the basic arc strong resembles the later films. The stories are comparable enough that as soon as What Price Hollywood? director George Cukor to be asked to straight the first A Star Is Born five year later, he refused. The similarities were so pronounced the RKO even taken into consideration suing, despite they ultimately decided not to.

The theme: What Price Hollywood? is the story that a young waitress and aspiring actress named Mary (Constance Bennett) that encounters a drunk, well known movie director Max (Lowell Sherman) one night at work. That brings she to a movie premiere and also promises her a display test, but doesn’t remember any of it the following morning.

She does lastly get her chance and, after some failed attempts, becomes an Academy Award-winning success. In ~ the same time, Max’s career tanks, and he starts to avoid Mary to store from dragging her down with him. In the end, Max lastly takes a hard look at himself and also decides his dissipated self is a disgrace to his former glory days. The shoots himself in the chest, pass shame and also controversy to mar in the process.

The variations: The film’s plot no exactly the very same as the standard plot of A Star Is Born, in i beg your pardon the ingenue and the aging star always end increase together. Mary and Max never have actually a romantic connection: She marries one more man, who grows jealousy of she time and her career, and also becomes pregnant by him — a fact she discovers just after their divorce is finalized. ~ Max’s death by suicide, mary flees to France, wherein she and also her ex reconcile.

But the significant similarities in between What Price Hollywood? and the succeeding A Star Is Born show other key: a story favor this has always been in Hollywood’s DNA. How stars get made has recorded imaginations because the beginning — and how castle fade has constantly felt like a tragedy. Placed the two together in the exact same film, and the sparks fly.

What Price Hollywood? is obtainable on DVD and is at this time streaming top top Filmstruck.

A Star Is Born (1937): The one the isn’t a musical

Director: william A. Wellman

Writer: William A. Wellman, Robert Carson, Dorothy Parker, and Alan Campbell

Starring: Janet Gaynor and Fredric March

Oscars: 7 nominations; one win for ideal Writing (Original Story)


The legend: The very first A Star Is Born was directed by wilhelm A. Wellman, who 1927 movie Wings won the very first Academy compensation for ideal Picture. Among his co-writers was critic and also satirist Dorothy Parker, for whom A Star Is Born represented one of her two Academy compensation nominations before her left-wing national politics landed she on the Hollywood Blacklist.

The movie stars Janet Gaynor as Esther Blodgett, a fresh-faced young woman that moves to Hollywood v stars in her eyes, and also Fredric March as Norman Maine, a stumbling drunk whose career together a screen star is currently on the wane when he meets Esther in ~ a party wherein she’s working as a caterer.

He assures to gain her a display test and, eventually, she’s signed come a studio contract and also renamed Vickie Lester by studio executives, who discover her actual name off-putting. Esther and also Norman fall in love and elope; he struggles with her increasing fame and spoils she Academy Awards speech; eventually, he kills himself by walking into the sea.

This was a comeback moment for Gaynor, who was no climbing star: She had actually been a renowned actress and substantial box-office attract in the 1920s and also early 1930s, start in quiet films and also transitioning successfully to sound. She to be the an initial actress to success an Academy Award, and also she won for three films in the very same year, 1929: 7th Heaven, Sunrise: A track of two Humans, and also Street Angel. (She’s the only actress to ever before win for much more than one role.)

But through the center of the 1930s, amid shifts and also mergers among movie studios, she career started to flag — especially with younger stars favor Loretta Young and also Shirley Temple gaining prominence.

Then she landing the duty of Esther Blodgett (incidentally, the very same year she starred in a film with What Price Hollywood? star Constance Bennett). The film was a vast success and revitalized her career, earning her a 2nd Academy award nomination, though she shed to Luise Rainer.

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Is the price because that stardom a damaged heart? unified Artists A Star Is Born was Gaynor’s just Technicolor film, and the first Technicolor film because that March, who originated the function of the alcoholic fallout’s star and also earned his third Oscar nomination for the film. (He’d won one previously, in 1931, and also would go on to win secondary Oscar and two Tonys in the 1940s and also 1950s.)

And while both March and also Gaynor were amongst cinema’s most recognizable faces, Gaynor’s recent misfortunes expected that the was simple to root for her as she portrayed a young mrs on the rise.

The theme: As the very first real iteration the A Star Is Born, this one’s plot illustration a most the points that would mark future versions of the story.

To modern eyes, A Star Is Born’s gender politics have the right to feel a little creepy, an especially Esther’s declaration in ~ the end of the film — recurring in each succeeding film, however in different configurations — the she will be well-known by she late husband’s name, “Mrs. Norman Maine.”

Since she (older) husband has both assisted her with success and action in means that deliberately or unintentionally will certainly sabotage the success, her dependence on him have the right to feel frustrating in ~ times. And though the gender politics change a little with every iteration, the space in age and also questions around men’s and also women’s courses to fame remain.

Yet there’s an authenticity come the relationship between the 2 characters, and also the jealousy between them, that feels as if it might have been drawn from life. In fact, it to be rumored the the marital relationship of display screen legend Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Fay was the film’s real-life inspiration.

Another facet of A Star Is Born that would be recurring in future execution is the centrality of the woman character, and, perhaps most importantly, the method that the function was viewed as a way for an actress to breathe brand-new life into her career. The Norman character is crucial one in A Star Is Born, however there’s a reason that the Esther character has constantly been play by one icon, and also that reason, most likely, is the Janet Gaynor played her first.

The variations: Gaynor and also March’s variation is the only non-musical version of A Star Is Born. Instead, that framed as a screenplay; the an initial and last frames the the film are pictures of a script page. And so the entirety thing bring away on a type of mythical quality, a story that Hollywood fame, written and produced by the Hollywood famous.

Norman and also Esther battle to maintain control of their own star images, eloping in bespeak to stop the prying eyes of celebrity journalists. The movie is specifically clear-eyed about how the fan magazines of early on Hollywood and also the tightly controlled images the studios produced for its contracted stars affect the real world off display — something the feels a little startling, given that those same studios responsible because that this movie. That adds a great of meta-commentary come the entire endeavor that is mostly missing from other versions.

The 1932 version of A Star Is Born is currently streaming ~ above Filmstruck.

A Star Is Born (1954): The one that stars Judy Garland

Director: George Cukor

Writer: Moss Hart

Starring: Judy Garland and James Mason

Oscars: 6 nominations; zero wins


The legend: In 1954, George Cukor — who had directed What Price Hollywood? almost a quarter century prior to but turned down the Gaynor/March A Star Is Born — was finally ready come take one more crack at this story. The studio lugged in Moss Hart, the wildly successful playwright and theatre director, to adapt the 1937 screenplay right into a movie-musical, v songs by Harold Arden and Ira Gershwin. They actors James Mason, the British actor who had made his transition to Hollywood 5 years earlier, together Norman Maine.

And, most importantly, they cast Judy Garland as Esther.

Garland was, by many accounts, not completely stable while shoot the film. It had been 15 years due to the fact that her most renowned role, as Dorothy in The magician of Oz. In the intervening years, she life had grown more tumultuous; she’d proficient breakdowns and addiction and several suicide attempts. In 1950, she negotiated a relax from she contract at MGM. She hadn’t make a movie since.

A Star Is Born was supported as her comeback film. Production was supposedly difficult, having actually to contend with Garland’s addictions, weight fluctuations, and also illnesses. Executives at Warner Bros. Likewise decided, after a far-reaching portion that the film had actually been completed, come reshoot so the it could be the first of the studio’s films in widescreen CinemaScope. Some sequences, including the lengthy “Born in a Trunk” music sequence, to be shot after ~ Cukor had currently departed the manufacturing for another project.

And after check screenings, that was reduced drastically in size by executives there is no Cukor’s input, down to 154 minutes. Cukor dubbed it “very painful” come watch. A number of the cut scenes and musical numbers were re-added in a practically three-hour “reconstructed” variation of the film, exit in theaters and also on residence video. Several of the scenes had to be included using production stills and audio rather of moving footage. (This is the version you deserve to watch this particular day on Filmstruck.)

The theme: In this A Star Is Born, Esther is a singer who Norman encounters one night as she sings in a club through her band after hours. (The tune Garland sings, “The guy That got Away,” was ranked No. 11 top top AFI’s list of 100 top songs in films, and is regularly re-recorded.)


The contours of the movie are lot the very same as the first one; Esther still becomes a Hollywood star — this time via a movie musical, Garland’s signature genre — and also is signed come a studio contract, and Norman’s mental wellness deteriorates together he watches she become much more successful. He ruins her Academy Awards speech, and he death himself, as in the previous version, through walking right into the sea. And after his death, at a tribute event, Esther introduces it s her to the crowd together “Mrs. Norman Maine.”

The variations: Yet the movie feels various than the 1937 version, and is among the ideal big-studio movie-musicals of the form’s mid-century heyday. Garland own the screen, her an effective voice unforgettable also though friend visibly deserve to see fluctuations in her physical wellness throughout the film.

Garland’s magnetism accounts for lot of what distinguishes this Star is Born from the former one — and makes Esther’s talents clear pretty lot right native the start. Once she’s referred to as in come substitute for the lead in a movie-musical who has to withdraw, that no surprise that she pond it. That was hard for someone favor Judy Garland to not seem choose a star.

Among the movie’s six Academy compensation nominations was one for Garland, who remained in a hospital room recovering from the birth of her son throughout the ceremony. NBC sent out a camera crew to she hospital room, but she lost to grace Kelly because that The nation Girl.

Though this variation of A Star Is Born delivered the highly lauded comeback power from a beloved star, Garland’s display career never ever really recovered. She would do on TV specials and also as a music entertainer, but illness plagued her. Garland i will not ~ be in an additional film until 1961’s Judgement at Nuremberg, and she just made five films full after A Star Is Born. She died, in 1969, from a barbiturate overdose at age 47.

The 1954 version of A Star Is Born is currently streaming top top Filmstruck.

A Star Is Born (1976): The one set in the music industry

Director: open minded Pierson

Writers: John Gregory Dunne, Joan Didion, and also Frank Pierson

Starring: Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson

Oscars: four nominations; one victory for finest Original tune (“Evergreen”)


The legend: Garland’s power in the 1954 variation was truly iconic, but about twenty years later, one more legend determined it to be time for another version the the story — this time, a much various version. Barbra Streisand executive-produced the film alongside her then-partner Jon Peters; she also wrote few of the songs and also starred in it, play Esther (who acquires a brand-new surname, Hoffman, here). That renders it the first version in which among its stars took an active duty in its manufacturing — miscellaneous that would be echoed in the 2018 version.

Unlike her predecessors in the duty of Esther, Streisand remained in no require of a comeback in 1976. She was at the height of her game, and also A Star Is Born would be she 10th film. Married screenwriting duo john Gregory Dunne and also Joan Didion, together with director frank Pierson, composed the brand-new screenplay.

And by now, with the Star Is Born story firmly rooted in Hollywood’s iconography, the spreading was extremely important as well. Streisand and also Peters thought about Neil Diamond and Marlon Brando for the male lead. In ~ one point, they wanted Elvis, yet his administer demands proved too much. Eventually country musician Kris Kristofferson was actors in the Norman role, his character rechristened as john Norman Howard.

The theme: In this variation of the movie, the young, aspiring talent — play by Streisand — is uncovered by a drunk, aging star together she’s performing in a nightclub. He trails her ago to she apartment, sleeps external in his car, and then meets her for breakfast, wherein he drops in love with her and also gives her a big break. She falls for him, too, and also they marry.

But when she becomes much more successful, he becomes a jealousy wreck in thrall to his drug and alcohol addictions — even after they move to a remote desert home. She inspires the to create some great work, and also he loves her. However he eventually, in the end, drives his automobile off the road in what we’re supposed to know is suicide. At his memorial service, she sings a track he composed for her the she discovered on a cassette tape after his death. And she introduce herself as “Esther Hoffman Howard.”

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Kristoffersen and Streisand in A Star Is Born. Warner Bros. The variations: This version of the story deviates considerably from its precursors in one vast way: instead of being collection within the star-making machine of Hollywood, Dunne, Didion, and Pierson moved the tale to the music industry. And so A Star Is Born came to be the story of an aging rocker and a young crooner, and shifted the awards-show sequence from the Oscars come the Grammys.

It also became an apparent artifact the the 1970s. This variation of A Star Is Born is an ext sexually explicit than previous persons — it was 1976, after every — and also John Norman Howard’s decrease feels steeper 보다 those the his predecessors. Esther’s reclamation of she husband’s name feels more influenced by the feminist movement of the era: she adds his last surname to her complete maiden name, quite than calling herself “Mrs. Man Norman Howard.” and also just stylistically, the feels choose a product of its time — in contrast to the controlled and also tightly created nature the its Hollywood predecessor, it feels loose, with much more kinetic camera movement.

The solution to this variation of the film was mixed; you can find civilization who hate it, and also others that declare it’s the finest of the bunch. It was normally disliked by critics, but it to be a enormous hit, ending up being the 3rd highest grossing movie of 1976 — probably owing to both Streisand’s and, to a lesser degree, Kristofferson’s fame, and to high interest in see Streisand in a function that many iconically belonged come Judy Garland.

Among the film’s Oscar nominations was one for the song “Evergreen (Love theme from A Star Is Born),” i beg your pardon Streisand composed and also performed through lyrics indigenous Paul Williams. Once it won, Streisand ended up being the an initial woman to win an Oscar for composing. And it to be a substantial hit, spending 3 weeks in ~ No. 1 in the unified States and becoming among Streisand’s biggest hits.

And while opinions are blended on this version of A Star Is Born contrasted to that is predecessors, yes no doubt the it’s a star rotate for Streisand — though the reality that she hardly essential it may have hampered its possibilities overall. It also served as the primary incentive for the newest variation of the film.

The 1976 variation of A Star Is Born is streaming top top Amazon Prime and accessible for digital rental ~ above Amazon, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu.

A Star Is Born (2018)

Director: Bradley Cooper

Writers: Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters

Starring: Lady Gaga and also Bradley Cooper

Oscars: To it is in determined


The legend: This remake of A Star Is Born is Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, but there to be lots the other methods this movie could have gone. In ~ one point, Clint Eastwood was claimed to direct the film. Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, and also Beyoncé were all floated as possible female stars, through a hold of leading males attached also — will certainly Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, Christian Bale.

But finally, in 2016, Cooper was signed on not simply as co-star yet director, and also Lady Gaga was included soon after. The movie started shooting in 2017 at Coachella. Scenes were later on shot in ~ Glastonbury as well, where the 1976 film’s star, Kris Kristofferson, gave four minutes of his set to Gaga for she performance. The film finally premiered in ~ the Venice film Festival in 2018.

The theme: Bradley Cooper’s variation of A Star Is Born draws most clearly from Streisand’s in a number of ways. As in the film, the 2018 version is set in the music industry; it’s about a blues-rocker who star is falling as result of his addictions and a woman through undeniable talent as a popular music star; and there’s a scene set at the Grammys.

Also together in Streisand’s version, this is a true passion project for Cooper, that went through substantial vocal and musical coaching. He’s preserved his personal connection come the film’s material private, but with his fingers in the film’s directing, writing, songwriting, and also performing, it’s clearly something around which he feels strongly.

Like both the 1954 and 1976 version of the film, this A Star Is Born seems poised come nab, in ~ minimum, one Oscar nomination for best Original Song, this time for the power ballad “Shallow,” i beg your pardon Cooper and also Gaga execute at a pivotal minute in the film. But it seems to be a likely candidate because that a couple of other nominations as well — including for Sam Elliott, who plays Jackson’s older brother and also manager, and also on whom Cooper modeled his very own performance.

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Bradley Cooper and also Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born. Warner Bros. The variations: But there room differences, too. Now, the masculine star is called Jackson Maine (Cooper), a nod to the Norman Maines of previously films, and also the mrs star (Lady Gaga) has shed the name “Esther” entirely, because that “Ally.”

It’s also the an initial version that seems to have actually almost entirely kicked the masculine jealousy trope, or in ~ least considered it unjustified. Jackson experience a little bit of envy the Ally is enduring success, and in some instances it causes him to lash out. Yet Ally calls that on it, and they handle it choose any couple would. It’s not his jealousy that eventually does Jackson in; it’s his addictions — partly his reaction, it turns out, come a an extremely troubled childhood — that at some point are his biggest problem.

As such, this version of A Star Is Born is most interested no in the machinations that celebrity, but in the way relationships between successful, an innovative people have the right to both spawn and also hamper that creativity — and also how addiction have the right to play right into that. That distinction feels natural and also authentic in 2018, perhaps since stardom feels less mysterious in a civilization of Instagram influencers and also YouTube stars 보다 it go in the past. The bigger question has come to be whether and also how world who attain fame deserve to remain grounded.

Will this it is in the final A Star Is Born? It appears unlikely. As lengthy as there is Hollywood, over there will probably be an ext versions of the very same old story. The form they take and also the details will certainly morph v the times, however the core story — a love story, a melodrama, and a tragedy every wrapped into one — appears to hold unending appeal.

The 2018 variation of A Star Is Born opens in theatre on October 5.

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Correction: An previously version of this piece had inaccuracies about the plot the What Price Hollywood? as it involves Max and Mary’s relationship and her Academy Awards win. They have actually been corrected.


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