“Out in Hollywood, where the streets are paved with Goldwyn….”
A Star is Born Yet Again
This is not a posting on the World of Warcraft.
The news is out that there will be a new version of this movie coming out in 2018 starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.
A Star is Born’s story is of a man who is past the peak in his career. He is famous, jaded and an alcholic asshole with a big dollop of charm. She is discovered by him and he helps get her career started. They love each other and get married. She zooms to the top. He tries to sober up for her and does for a while. Throughout all of this, they continue to love each other. Finally, at the end, he decides that he can’t get out of his drinking and commits suicide. It is a tragedy.
The three versions of this film are all excellent movies.
The first in 1937 was nominated for seven Oscars including best picture, actor, actress and directing. It won only one award for the book. The screenplay, also nominated, was written by Dorothy Parker who knew a little about alcohol and suicide.
The second in 1954 starred James Mason and Judy Garland and was a musical. It was nominated for five Oscars including actor and actress but won none.
The third in 1976 starred Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand and was nominated for four Oscars and won one for Best Original Song (Evergreen). Neither actor was nominated.
What is beautiful about this story is that one would think that he would resent her career but he does not. He is proud and supportive of her throughout. She loves him too and would stop her career to take care of him. His suicide choice is out of love because he realizes that he is ruining her life.
It is important to understand how noble he is because it would have been easy for him to be bothered by her fame. He even tries to cook dinners for when she comes home. There is zero misogyny in this story, which takes our understanding of their relationship to a new place because we, as audience, would expect a man to behave a certain way and he is above that.
We, as critical viewers, know to ask the Director’s Question, “who does this movie belong to”? In every play and movie there will come a moment when a character has to make a decision to change. If he or she decides to change, then it is a comedy. If not, a tragedy.
Our pleasure, then, in watching a show is each scene throughout the movie is driving the character to the choice. This is what the director is directing because all of the other characters stay the same.
My favorite example is Pretty Woman. It is Richard Gere’s movie and in the end he decides to change (even climbing stairs when he is afraid of heights) and it is a comedy. Julia Roberts had a great role to play but her character did not have to change. Each scene that he is in shows him making changes. I could go on but you know the movie! Watch Richard act next time.
The first two movies were based on Dorothy Parker’s script which got all of the actor nominations. The 1976 version did not use Miss Parker’s script and faltered on several levels: specifically they cut out the PR guy who gave us a point of view of contempt for the man’s alcholism; and Barbara faltered and said, “I don’t think I want you in my life any more.” Clearly, they didn’t understand that she needed to be faithful and true always to make his final decision worthy.
He does not suicide because of her but intead he suicides for her.
Bradley Cooper is directing, writing and acting in this new version of A Star is Born.
What we will be wanting to see is that elevated relationship that contains no resentment of her fame and a very strong love. His final suicide must be a clear act of love, a realization that he is hurting her (and her career) because of his inability to get sober.
I think Lady Gaga has the star power. Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand were mega-stars with a long list of both hit movies and songs.
All she has to do is love him.