A Star Is Born

by Ed Tapper
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Sunday Feb 10, 2013
A Star Is Born

Director William Wellman's original story, A Star is Born, about the troubled marriage between a fading, alcoholic film star, and his talented, up-and-coming wife, made a great 1937 cinematic drama, and an even better 1954 musical film. The latter showcased a powerhouse Judy Garland, belting out tunes that were soon included in her canon of signature songs. Expert direction from George Cukor, definitive performances, and sumptuously-colored, widescreen photography contribute to the incomparability of this version.

In 1976, it was decided that "A Star Is Born" should be updated and mounted as a vehicle for Streisand. Terminally permed, she delivers her usual nervously-charged schtick, which, played against the icy, rustic machismo of co-star Kris Kristofferson, causes the film's critical, chemical imbalance. Apocryphal legends abound concerning the intense animosity that surrounded the project, mostly directed against Barbra. Add to the mix a weak script, some unfortunate song lyrics, laughable period get-ups, and interminable music sequences, and "A Star is Born" amounts to an epic dud. Yet Streisand completists will be overjoyed by Warner's beautifully engineered Blu-ray release of the film.

One element that cannot be criticized is Streisand’s singing, and she certainly sounds terrific, particularly in her performance of her Oscar-winning hit, "Evergreen."

With superior, picture quality that far exceeds any prior video release, the Blu-ray almost manages to render the film watchable. All the copious extras include commentary by Streisand: that to the film itself, the deleted scenes---even the wardrobe tests. One could imagine that any by Kristofferson would not be useable for the new release.

One element that cannot be criticized is Streisand's singing, and she certainly sounds terrific, particularly in her performance of the Oscar-winning hit, "Evergreen." However, if you mistakenly order the Judy version from Warners, count yourself fortunate.

A Star is Born(1976)


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