One film, four versions: A Star Is Born

Some films are remade a lot more than once. In the case of this film, there are no less than four versions, as well as some thinly-disguised ‘copies’. Starting in 1937, with the original film starring Frederick March and Janet Gaynor, it was remade in 1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason, and again in 1976, with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. A fourth version is soon to be in cinemas, starring pop sensation Lady Gaga. So, take your pick, and choose your personal favourite.

This is a rare case where I enjoyed the remakes as much as the original, though I have yet to see the latest one. I even preferred Judy Garland in her 1950s film to the rather stagey original, and really enjoyed the singing of Streisand in her one.

If you have never seen it, the story is simple enough. A female protege of a fading male star is taken under his wing, and becomes a huge success, much to the annoyance of the man involved. In the 1937 original it was about acting and film stars. In the 1954 remake, it was about a musical star, so Garland could sing. Then in 1976 Streisand is a talented unknown singer, and Kristofferson a drunken rock star. Nothing much changes in all three films, except the singing.

Here’s the original.

Now Judy, singing of course.

Here’s Barbra. What a voice.

And here’s Lady Gaga, in 2018.

If I could only choose one, I would stick with Judy Garland. That would always be my first choice to watch, from this crop of remakes. The original version lacks the music, but has plenty of acting talent, and the 1976 film has Streisand’s vocals, but feels like a messier film all round. As for Lady Gaga, I will have to let you know.

44 thoughts on “One film, four versions: A Star Is Born

  1. Looking forward to seeing this movie, but I haven’t seen the others! They’re on my list before I watch the latest. How’d you think Gaga will compare to Judy??

    PS. I’M BACK πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Gaga will show the story to a new generation who know nothing about Janet Gaynor or Garland, and not much about Streisand. I also think you should watch the 1954 and 1976 films before the new one, but as you know, I’m just a grumpy old goat when it comes to remakes, FC.

      You have had me worried for a long time now. I even added a comment on one of your posts, asking where you were.
      I thought you had fallen out of that boat in your site photo!
      Looking forward to seeing your posts again, and pleased to still be alive for your return. πŸ™‚

      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pete, I have posted about this new version, directed and starring Bradley Cooper along with Lady Gaga…I was actually happy to see it was rated “R” – hoping it is an adult telling of the story, rather than something designed for teens – it’s an adult story, and James Mason was perfect as the over-the-hill Actor who Judy Garland can’t save…I also posted this story about the Streisand version getting a new scene added – and it will air on Netflix soon for those interested – a messier film for sure but the Babs songs are really incredible…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Great post, Pete. It’s a timeless “Hollywood” story that we see here all the time – it’s tough to have a long career in front of the camera, and many can’t handle it…I’ve posted about some of those “True Hollywood” tragedies as well…and James Mason is a brilliant Actor…he and Garland were the perfect match

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I know they all had the same theme, but Garland’s performance and interaction with Mason puts that one over the top. I liked Barbra and Kris’ version, but felt with just a few tweaks, it could have been an entirely different movie.

    Liked by 1 person

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