A Star Is Born 1937 (1937) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: A young woman comes to Hollywood with dreams of stardom, but achieves them only with the help of an alcoholic leading man whose best days are behind him. Runtime: 111 min Release Date: 27 Apr 1937
I had not watched this movie until today, passing up each opportunity over the years to view it, as I feared it would not live up to the 1954 blockbuster starring Judy Garland and James Mason.I was right, it does not; it far surpasses the 1954 remake. Judy Garland is my favorite all-round entertainer, favorite singer, and the songs in the 1954 movie are classic treasures, and James Mason never disappoints in any film. However, in the 1937 version the story is told more sensitively, with more shading. Janet Gaynor is perfect as the home-grown farm girl seeking to make her mark in Hollywood, <more>
and Fredric March is very convincing as the has-been who cannot cope with his declining value in Hollywood, especially since he caused much of it himself.I had thought that I might miss the music in this earlier version, but I found after having watched it that I didn't miss it at all. The movie was engrossing from beginning to end and stood on its own merits. I was moved by this film in a way that I never had been by the later remake.SEE this film if you love a good story; don't put it off for years the way I did. Simply, simply wonderful...
When you see this masterpiece, remember that more than 65 years have passed since it debuted on the big screen. How many contemporary films will dazzle and delight in 2065?Sure, we have seen this story before, but this was the first incarnation. Sure all films are in color today, but notice the rich, full-rigged use of color here, only a decade after talkies began. Dialogue sound familiar, well many of the lines originated here thanks Dorothy Parker .First caught this in the movie theatre around 1975 as this David O. Selznick production had been out of circulation. Judy Garland's <more>
troubled but ultimately engrossing and hugely entertaining remake was already familiar to me. So how does a classic compare to its first version. To me, it is one of the 1930's masterworks.How perfect to cast Janet Gaynor in the role, an Oscar winner herself at 20 --- that child-like voice unforgettable. Fredric March, like Gaynor already a star and early Oscar recipient, world weary and helpless. The art deco, lavish production, haunting music, and scene after scene of "behind the scenes Hollywood", well they sure worked for me. "Kitsch" an old friend labeled it, but to me, memorable.I love watching this movie --- hope you enjoy it as well.
One of the all-time greats, A Star Is Born 1937 is a classic Hollywood story of power and love and the fickleness of fame. Janet Gaynor has her great talkie role and Fredric March has one of his best as the star-cross lovers, Esther Blodgett and Norman Maine. Both had already won Oscars, but both were worthy of wins here. Gaynor is wonderful as the country girl who yearns for Hollywood fame. She is a great comic actress, doing impressions of Hepburn, Garbo, and West while serving snacks at a party and trying to get noticed. She is also heartbreaking in her famous finale, "This is MRS. <more>
Norman Maine." March, who had a tendency to be hammy, strikes just the right balance between Norman's vulnerability and his pomposity. You never doubt that he loves Esther. The supporting cast is peerless, with Adolphe Menjou, May Robson one of her best roles , Andy Devine, Lionel Stander, and Edgar Kennedy all good. The color photography is, although maybe a tad washed out now, still striking in its use of shadows. Great script and direction. One of the best. Gaynor and March deserved their Oscar nomination, but May Robson was robbed by not being nominated. Her character was left out of the 1954 remake, but she is the anchor of the 1937 version. A Star Is Born is a must for all film buffs, especially for those who have only see Gaynor is silent films, including the great Sunrise 1927 .
I believe this as one of the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen. I enjoyed the story, the dialog and above all I enjoyed the atmosphere and the actors. All of them are great but to me Fredric March is outstanding. Norman/Alfred is a wonderful character: frail, undignified, touchy, weak and able to love Vicki/Esther so much, with all his heart. Fredric March brings all of it on the screen, providing one of his best performances here.If you would like to become an actor, I believe you should watch this movie and Mr. March's way of acting. Pay attention to his eyes, his hands, his face <more>
and his moves, especially when he interrupts his wife thanking everybody for the Oscar she got and claims he deserves three statues for the worse performances. He is overcome by himself and starts dying. I just shivered. To me, this version can't be compared to its remakes. The allure and the fascination of Hollywood have been perfectly represented here, together with an unpleasant and creepy feeling of emptiness.
A very touching story and should be watched by everybody. The best part of it is you can value a person's love which is very precious and should not be wasted. The moral of the story, don't be too enjoyed with your victory or popularity and you may forget about who you are, originally. Once you are married, try to balance it with your career and your personal life.
The tragedy of Norman Maine (by jem132)
Fredric March and Janet Gaynor co-star in this early 30's Technicolour film. It is one of the best of it's era, and was justifiably nominated for a swag of Academy Awards.Gaynor portrays small-town dreamer Esther Blodgett, who comes to Hollywood courtesy of assistance from her sympathetic, determined grandmother. Trying to break into the movies, she gets a job waiting at an A-lister party, where she happens to meet alcoholic matinée idol Norman Maine March . Despite his drunken, foolish state he finds her inherently appealing in a sweet, attractive manner, and arranges for her to <more>
get a screen test. After a name change hello, Vicki Lester , make-over and acting lessons she is soon starring with Maine in his latest picture, and garners enormous public and critical praise. Inevitably, as these films go, Esther and Norman fall in love and marry. However, as Norman starts to achieve great personal happiness his career goes down the plughole, and even Esther/Vicki is powerless to stop his decline.March is terrific in a challenging role. He handles Norman's decline brilliantly; March was always terrific at accurately capturing a character's emotional state. It is one of the best portrayals of an alcoholic that I have seen, because March focuses on the pain, the resentment, that causes him to drink, rather than just the ugly aftermath that a binge leaves in it's path. He makes Norman more than a superficial Hollywood star- he makes him REAL. There's no Method applied to his work, it's just darn good skill at characterization. March could play comedy equally well as drama, so Norman is not a one-dimensional, tragic star in March's hands. Rather he is a multi-dimensional, charismatic, lovable yet ultimately flawed individual caught up in the money-hungry giant that is Hollywood.One is reminded of John Barrymore in the character of Norman Maine. Barrymore was also a big-shot whose career declined heavily in the 30's because of his alcoholism. It was no secret in Hollwyood as to what he was. March, a smart actor, would have drawn on this in his portrayal.Ganyor, the winner of the first Best Actress award, is also very good as Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester. Her natural sweetness and quite nature give Esther a unique spirit. Esther is not just a wishy-washy, typically 'nice' girl- she is strong and willing to stick by Norman because of her faith and her faith in their love. Gaynor also does rather funny impersonations of Garbo, Hepburn and West at a Hollywood party that reveal a knack for comedy. Yet, it is almost impossible to see Esther/Vick's 'star' qualities in this film. Gaynor certainly keeps them under wraps, and one has to stretch the imagination to imagine that Gaynor, as capable an actress as she was, could possibly out act the great March.Nice supporting work from Adolphe Menjou as a Hollywood producer, and Lionel Stander is just poisonous as the vile Libby, who, while justifiably fed up with March and his chronic drinking and star tantrums, has not a sympathetic bone in his body. May Robson as the Grandma is good also, but a little tiresome after a while I think it's more how her character was written than her acting abilities . A nice bit of trivia- she was a native Australian! The early Technicolour looks quite good, but it is slightly primitive, so one must overlook this fact to appreciate the film properly. There are some wonderful sequences here- March's outburst at the Academy Awards, Esther and Norma's first meeting, March's final scene. The film loses a bit of class in the parts March is not present. This is understandable, as he was such a dominant presence and magnificent actor. Gaynor perhaps couldn't carry a film by itself at this stage in her career, which is ironic as her star was actually sliding in real life, not March's. He was enjoying the best success of his career; she would only make a few more motion pictures before retirement from the screen.A satire on the entertainment industry and also a heartbreaking character study of a marriage ravaged by the effects of alcohol and one partner's growing dissatisfaction with life.
Fredric March gave a magnificent performance, probably the best of his career, as Norman Maine, the actor whose career is in the descendant as that of his wife, Vikki Lester, is in the ascendant in this, the first 'official' version of "A Star is Born", the 1932 film "What Price Hollywood" roughly told the same story . March displays just the right degree of brashness, of knowingness, and a combination of ego and a real actor's almost complete lack of ego. It's a miraculous piece of work.As Lester, Janet Gaynor is touchingly blank but the star quality she <more>
is meant to display seems conspicuously absent; in the 1954 musical remake Judy Garland was almost too much a star . It seems inconceivable that she could eclipse March on screen even with his drinking . If Lester is a star and possibly a great actress Gaynor keeps the secret to herself.The script for this version was partly written by Dorothy Parker and Alan Campbell and it shows. It's an acerbic and, at times, savage movie about the movies, quite cynical for a major studio picture of it's day. It is very well directed by William Wellman who draws first-rate performances from the supporting cast, in particular Lionel Stander as a heartless, slime-ball studio hack. This remains the best of the three versions to come thus far.
Having seen the two later versions of this tale, it was a surprise to find the original one, even if it doesn't compare with the 50s remake with Judy Garland. This one is worth a look because of the great cinematography and the use of color for a film made in the early years of its invention. William Wellman deserves credit for his direction of a Hollywood story about itself.The mere idea of young and very naive, Esther Blodgett making it big in Hollywood, is stretching the imagination big time. This girl from the heart of the country yearns to be somebody in the pictures that are her <more>
escape from the dreary life she leads. To even think that she would have a chance in becoming a bit player, is a stretch of the imagination, but to have her become a star in her own right with her unsophisticated looks, is even harder to believe. Hollywood of those years was a factory of dreams where many went to be part of it, but for one Esther Blodgett, there were thousands who were rejected.We watch as Esther is transformed into Vicki Lester, a star larger than life, who captures the public's imagination and goes to eclipse bigger stars such as Norman Maine, her discoverer, and the man she falls in love with. Norman's decline is very fast, while Vicki's ascent into glory is even faster. His drinking habit will get the best of him at a time when help agencies such as A.A. didn't exist. Unfortunately for Vicki, she ultimately has to pay for her own meteoric success.The cast is superb. Not being a fan of Janet Gaynor, I have to confess that she strikes the right note with her Esther/Vicki role. She is totally believable even though we never even see her take an acting class, much less see her waiting tables to help herself. Frederick March brings an intensity to Norman, the self destructive star, that makes us pity him. Adolphe Menjou is the studio head who sees a winner in the young, aspiring actress, and gives her the chance. Most surprising of all is the star performance of Lionel Standing as Matt Libby, the studio publicist who is behind the creation of the new star. Andy Devine, May Robson, and the rest are equally satisfying.This film was a happy surprise in many aspects and will not disappoint.
Not quite up to the remake, but very little is. (by alice liddell)
I had real fears about watching this film because the 1954 remake is one of my ten favorite films, and absolutely perfect in every way. It stars Judy Garland and James Mason, in my opinion two of a handful of truly great actors, and Garland's own tragedies gave the story an extra frisson and force. It makes the greatest ever use of Technicolour, intense, excessive and emotional; and its subject matter shook George Cukor out of his habitual gentility into his best direction, unafraid for once to be vulgar. It is a melodrama, it is a musical and I love it to bits. So you can imagine how <more>
initially this original felt inferior in every way. There was no musical numbers to take the load of emotions too intense to be verbalised. Janet Gaynor seemed like a mouse compared to Judy's tornado. Fredric March was a wonderfully versatile actor, particularly good in comedy, but James Mason, behind his trademark suavity, sadism and insanity, always had a sadness and resigned loneliness, a great generosity of spirit that was just right for Norman Maine. Worst of all, Wellman's direction was far too discreet and distant, making the storyline seem rather childish.And yet, as it began to build momentum, A STAR revealed itself to be a very wonderful film, quite different from its remake. For a start, it's as much a comedy as a tragedy, and there are many funny lines. The film is very bitter about Hollywood, and the sacrifices necessary for fame, as one might expect from a script co-written by Dorothy Parker, although it lacks the attention to detail that would have made the film truly corrosive. There is a seething cynicism that provides an interesting counter point to the film's weepy elements, without ever betraying them: the film opens and closes as a script, laying bear the artifice and manipulation we are about to see, mocking us for succumbing to the very canker it wants to expose. There are subtle attacks on Hollywood anti-Semitism - the very ethnic Henckel becomes WASP-worthy Norman Maine. Lionel Stander 'Moidah' Max from HART TO HART is a very bitter publicity agent whose treatment of Norman towards the end is truly hateful, yet, we must admit, very funny.Far from being childish, the film is very mature, and is the most sensible and sensitive film about alcoholism until LEAVING LAS VEGAS. There is no judgmentalism, no trite explanations. The great tragedy is precisely this mystery: why should Norman - so attractive, so talented, so popular - give up everything at the height of his powers. It suggest demons that are way out of the depth of conventionally pat Hollywood narratives. Also sex is quite frankly present, and they got the shower sequence - where March is quite clearly naked - past the Hays Office is a mystery and a delight.A STAR is a sublime melodrama, building up to an unbearable tragic pitch. Even if you know what's going to happen, it's hard to resist the tears. This is principally due to the magnificent acting. Gaynor is truly great, convincingly maturing from a callow, ambitious, small-town girl, to a great actress who must helplessly witness the dissolution of the man she loves. March is truly heartbreaking, a worthy partner to James Mason. Norman is so patently warm, amusing, loveable, loving, that it's unbearable and unfair to watch his decline, his loss of control. As forces beyond his control topple him, he may lose his public dignity, but never our respect. Our world can't be all bad if it can find room for this masterpiece and its even better remake. Well, until we remember Mecha Streisand that is.