Of course, we have all love the movie A Star is Born (2018) that stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, but did you know that the 2018 film is the 4th version of A Star is Born? These movies date all the way back to the 1930s, and they all display different styles in direction, different chemistry on screen, and of course, different music. I have only watched the two most recent remakes of the movie, but I wanted to give a little background on the first two movies too, as they’re wildly different from the A Star is Born that we know today.
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The original movie, which came out in 1937, starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. If you’re like me, you probably have no idea who those actors are. The storyline is mostly the same as the more current versions, except for the fact that this movie doesn’t include any singing. Janet Gaynor’s character actually moves to Hollywood in the hopes of becoming an actress rather than a singer. I’ve never seen this version, but the movie is still regarded as a classic. The original is still given a lot of love, and was nominated for 7 Academy Awards during its time.
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The second version of A Star is Born, the first official remake that came out in 1954, starred Judy Garland and James Mason. The plot once again follows an aspiring actress, Esther, as she embarks on a Hollywood romance with a famous actor, but this version was a bit more groundbreaking as it the first to include music.
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25 years later, in 1979, A Star is Born was once again recreated with the one and only Barbra Streisand staring as Esther, alongside Kris Kristofferson. This version made the dramatic switch of Esther becoming an aspiring singer instead of an actress, and is taken under the wing of famous rock singer, John Norman Howard. The film is famous for its soundtrack, and ended up winning an Academy Award for “Best Original Song” for Streisand’s “Evergreen,” which also won “Song of the Year” at the Grammys. Also, a fun fact about this version is that Elvis Presley was initially wanted for the lead role, but his agent turned down the offer because he wasn’t promised top billing.
I watched this version with my mom recently, as she constantly raves about Barbra Streisand’s performance. She claims that the chemistry was better in the 1979 version, so I watched it with her to judge for myself. After seeing both, (which I highly recommend doing), I can say that the 1979 film was extremely well done in terms of the romance on screen and the music, as Streisand is an amazing singer. It was refreshing seeing some differences from the 2018 version, but plenty of aspects were very similar, too. I definitely appreciated this version of the movie, but did I like it better than the 2018 version? Of course not.
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This brings us to the most recent remake, the 2018 film starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. The film follows the plot most similar to the 1979 version, but this revolutionary film also changed a few things. This was the first film that the main character’s name was not Esther, and instead is changed to Ally. This version focuses a bit more on Ally’s rise to stardom and reveals some dark truths about the music industry in doing so.
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The chemistry between Gaga and Cooper has taken the world by storm, particularly their duet of the Grammy-winning song, “Shallow.” The soundtrack, which Gaga co-wrote the majority of, has also been a large contributor to the appreciation of the 2018 film. Having a musical icon from our generation star in a movie is probably a huge reason that this movie has captivated pop culture.
Regardless of which era you belong to, and which move you love the most, these series of movies all have something special about them, and they have a lot important things to say about Hollywood, addiction, the music industry, and love. These movies are truly sensational and I recommend watching at least one of them!