I have now seen all four versions of the amazing movie “A Star Is Born”! I have to say that I was, at first, reluctant to see the current version. While versions 1 and 2 were very good, version 3 – the Streisand / Kristofferson version – was so incredible it has the honor of being one of my (if not THE) all time favorite movies….I still get chills and a little teary eyed just thinking about it! It was movie perfection!!! So, when I heard they were working on yet another remake, I thought – oh, hell no……they can’t possibly top the 1976 version, so why waste the time and money! Then, I heard who they had cast in the lead roles — Bradley Cooper in Kristofferson’s role…..OK, that could work……..and Lady Gaga in Streisand’s role – WHAT? Seriously? No Way!!! So, right from the start, I was refusing to even consider going to see it!
But, then, I started seeing the trailers, clips, and interviews and thought……heck, this might be good, after all! Lady Gaga does have an incredible voice and the over the top image she had early on is being replaced with that of a strong, impressive woman! So…….maybe she can be effective in the role. So, yeah, I started getting excited about it coming out. And, by the time it got released, I was chomping at the bit to go see it! It opened two days before I left for Bermuda, so I had to wait to see it……then, going the week I got back didn’t seem to work out……so, my friend and I went to the matinee show on Monday, the 22nd – two days before my birthday – Happy Birthday to me!!! 😀
So…..did it live up to the hype I built in my mind about it or did it fall flat? I’ll go into more detail in a bit, but – in a nutshell – YES – it was amazing and definitely did NOT fall flat or disappoint me in any way!!! I LOVED IT!!! That said, however, the 1976 Streisand/Kristofferson version still reigns supreme and has not, in my opinion, been derailed as THE best version of them all…..and, therefore, still on the top of the leader board for my all time favorite movies!!! But, that doesn’t diminish the splendor of the current version, which I rank # 2 of the four versions and one I will definitely see again and again and again!!!
For those who are clueless and don’t know the story line………this movie is the story of a burned out star (in this version’s case, a country singer) who meets, falls in love with, and boosts the career of a rising star (in this version a pop singer). They have a rocky relationship as her career soars and his starts to fade. I won’t do any spoilers…….but, suffice it to say, if you go see it, you’ll want to take tissues —- lots and lots of tissues!!!
Lady Gaga does do a phenomenal job as Ally. Her voice is amazing and she breathes life into the character in a way that both surprised me and felt completely natural. I think we’ll see more of her on the big screen……at least I hope we will! Bradley Cooper……well, duh!!! He was perfect as Jackson (Jack) Maine – those gorgeous eyes of his – they penetrate from the screen to each and every viewer – in every role he plays he manages to ensure everyone who watches feels a personal connection! And, as usual, he portrayed the character easily and brilliantly! BTW – he also directed the film AND co-wrote the screenplay!!! And…..if Bradley Cooper wasn’t enough eye candy for one film, they threw in Sam Elliott as Bobby – Jack’s brother and manager! OMG……just a bit of handsomeness overload going on in this film!!! The surprise was Andrew Dice Clay as Ally’s father…….I kept looking at him thinking “that man sounds and sorta looks like Andrew Dice Clay”, but he wasn’t his usual “in your face” comic with dark hair and a black leather jacket, so it threw me off — I had to read the credits after to see if it was really him and – yes – it was!!! I liked this Andrew…..I hope to see more of him in roles like this!
So, how does it compare to the other three versions? I already told you it didn’t knock the 1976 version off its pedestal, but it did come a very close second. All four version, of course, have the same basic story line……but, they all have their differences to make them stand on their own. In the 1937 (original) version, the stars were Janet Gaynor and Fredrick March and the lead characters were Esther Victoria Blodgett – an aspiring actress who took on the screen name of Vicki Lester – and Norman Maine – an actor at the end of his career. The 1954 version had the incomparable Judy Garland and James Mason and they kept the same names for the lead characters – the difference was the addition of a musical element, as Esther (Vicki) was a singer with Norman being an actor breaking her into Hollywood. The 1976 version really shook things up with Barbara Streisand as Esther Hoffman – a singer who refused to change her name – and Kris Kristofferson as John Norman Howard – a larger than life rock star! The current (2018) version kept music as the primary theme – Lady Gaga’s character is a pop singer known only as Ally and Bradley Cooper is a country music star whose name is Jackson (Jack) Maine (bringing back the last name of the earlier versions). Some of the most notable, memorable scenes are consistent from version to version, but there are other subtle differences – aside from the names and careers of the main characters – in each (the first two are most closely matched). Not to spoil it for those who have not seen any version, yet, but to let those who have seen it and have an expectation of the ending……the current version ends the same, just differently…..so, yes, you’ll need tissues – lots of tissues!!!
Yes – I enjoyed ALL four versions — I’d rank them in order of least to most favorite as: 1937, 1954, 2018, 1976. And, for someone who didn’t want to consider a remake after the 1976 version, I actually can’t wait to see how they do it next time…….hope they do it again in my lifetime – the first three were ~20 years apart (give or take) and the last one came 42 years after the best one — guess that was smart! So — my rating: I give this one a BIG TWO thumbs up and a solid 4.8 out of 5.0……only because it didn’t top the 1976 version and I didn’t sob quite as hard as I still do every time I see Streisand/Kristofferson – even after at least a gazillion times, so I probably unfairly deducted 0.2. Go see it……whether you’ve seen the other versions or not……and, work towards seeing them all at some point! You won’t be sorry!