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A Star Is Born

1937

Esther Blodgett (Janet Gaynor) is just another starry-eyed farm kid trying to break into the movies. Waitressing at a Hollywood party, she catches the eye of alcoholic star Norman Maine (Fredric March), is given a test, and is caught up in the Hollywood glamor machine. She and her idol Norman marry; but his career abruptly dwindles to nothing This was also Lana Turner's film debut as an extra.


A Star Is Born is a 1937 Technicolor romantic drama film produced by David O. Selznick and directed by William A. Wellman, with a script by Wellman, Robert Carson (writer), Dorothy Parker and Alan Campbell (screenwriter). It stars Janet Gaynor as an aspiring Hollywood, Los Angeles, California actress, and Fredric March as an aging movie star who helps launch her career. Other members of the cast include Adolphe Menjou, May Robson, Andy Devine, Lionel Stander and Carole Landis.

Plot

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North Dakota farmgirl Esther Victoria Blodgett (Janet Gaynor) yearns to become a Hollywood actress. Although her aunt and father discourage such thoughts, Esther's grandmother (May Robson) gives her her savings to follow her dream.
Esther goes to Hollywood and tries to land a job as an extra, but so many others have had the same idea that the casting agency has stopped accepting applications. Esther is told that her chances of becoming a star are one in 100,000. She befriends a new resident at her boarding house, assistant director Danny McGuire (Andy Devine), himself out of work. When Danny and Esther go to a concert to take their minds off their troubles, Esther has her first encounter with Norman Maine (Fredric March), an actor she admires greatly. Norman has been a major star for years, but his alcoholism has sent his career into a downward spiral.
Danny gets Esther a one-time waitressing job at a fancy Hollywood party. While serving hors d’œuvre, she catches Norman's eye. He gets his longtime producer and good friend, Oliver Niles (Adolphe Menjou), to give her a screen test. Impressed, Oliver gives her a new name ("Vicki Lester") and a contract. She practices her few lines for her first tiny role.
However, when the studio has trouble finding a female lead for Norman's current film, entitled The Enchanted Hour, Norman persuades Oliver to cast Esther. The film makes her an overnight success, even as viewers continue to lose interest in Norman.
Norman proposes to Vicki; she accepts when he promises to give up drinking. They elope without publicity, much to press agent Matt Libby's (Lionel Stander) disgust, and enjoy a trailer-camping honeymoon in the mountains. When they return, Vicki's popularity continues to skyrocket, while Norman realizes his own career is over, despite Oliver's attempts to help him. Norman stays sober for a while, but his frustration over his situation finally pushes him over the edge. He starts drinking again. When Vicki wins the industry's top award, he interrupts her acceptance speech by drunkenly demanding three awards for the worst acting of the year.
A stay at a sanatorium seems to cure Norman's increasingly disruptive alcoholism, but a chance encounter with Libby gives the press agent an opportunity to vent his long-concealed contempt and dislike for Norman. Norman resumes drinking. Esther decides to give up her career in order to devote herself to his rehabilitation. After Norman overhears her discussing her plan with Oliver, he drowns himself in the Pacific Ocean.
Shattered, Vicki decides to quit and go home. Soon afterward, her grandmother shows up and convinces her to resume acting. At the premiere of her next film at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Vicki is asked to say a few words into the microphone to her many fans listening across the world; she announces, "Hello everybody. This is Mrs. Norman Maine."
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Cast


  • Janet Gaynor as Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester
  • Fredric March as Norman Maine
  • Adolphe Menjou as Oliver Niles
  • May Robson as Grandmother Lettie
  • Andy Devine as Daniel "Danny" McGuire
  • Lionel Stander as Matt Libby
  • Owen Moore as Casey Burke

  • Peggy Wood as Miss Phillips
  • Elizabeth Jenns (actress) as Anita Regis
  • Edgar Kennedy as Pop Randall
  • Clara Blandick as Aunt Mattie
  • J. C. Nugent as Mr. Blodgett
  • Guinn Williams (actor) as posture coach

Production

A Star Is Born was filmed from October to December 1936 with an estimated budget of $1,173,639, and premiered in Los Angeles, California, California on April 27, 1937 at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.< name="Brown135"></> In New York, the film premiered at Radio City Music Hall. The scene in the film where Menjou offers the fading star a supporting role was added at the suggestion of George Cukor, who directed the A Star Is Born (1954 film).
It is not known how much Dorothy Parker contributed to the finished script. When she first saw the film, Parker was proud of her contribution and boasted about both the script and the film, but in later life she believed that she had contributed nothing of significance.
A common Hollywood myth about the film is that Lana Turner appeared as an extra in one of the scenes in the film. Turner often denied the myth over the years, mentioning that she was discovered several months after the picture had finished production.

Soundtrack

  • "A Star is Born", sung by Buddy Clark with the orchestra of Eddy Duchin. Lyrics by Dorothy Dick to the music of Max Steiner from the film soundtrack.
  • Reception

    By the end of 1939 the film had earned a profit of $181,000.< name="david"/>

    10th Academy Awards


    Wins< name="Oscars1937"></>
    • Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay): William Wellman, Robert Carson (writer)
    • Academy Honorary Award: To W. Howard Greene for the color photography of A Star Is Born. This Award was recommended by a committee of leading cinematographers after viewing all the color pictures made during the year.
    Nominations
    • Academy Award for Best Picture: Selznick International Pictures; the first Color motion picture film to be nominated for best picture.
    • Academy Award for Directing: William Wellman
    • Academy Award for Best Actor: Fredric March
    • Academy Award for Best Actress: Janet Gaynor
    • Academy Award for Best Assistant Director: Eric G. Stacey
    • Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay: Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell (screenwriter), Robert Carson

    Adaptations to other media

    At the time of the release of the film, a 15-minute transcription &ndash; a pre-recorded radio show issued on 16-inch disc &ndash; promoting the film's release was made. The narrated promotional radio show included sound clips from the film. The show was recorded and released through the World Broadcasting System, with disc matrix number H-1636-2.
    The film was adapted as a radio play on the September 13, 1937 episode of Lux Radio Theater with Robert Montgomery (actor) and Janet Gaynor, the November 17, 1940 episode of The Screen Guild Theater starring Loretta Young and Burgess Meredith, the December 28, 1942 episode of Lux Radio Theater with Judy Garland and Walter Pidgeon, the June 29, 1946 episode of Academy Award Theater, starring Fredric March, the May 23, 1948 episode of the Ford Theatre and the June 16, 1950 episode of Screen Director's Playhouse starring Fredric March.

    Remakes


    A Star Is Born has already been remake twice, in A Star Is Born (1954 film) with Judy Garland and James Mason, and in A Star Is Born (1976 film) with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Warner Bros. has plans to finance another remake, with Clint Eastwood possibly directing the film, while singer-actress Beyoncé Knowles is "in negotiations" with the studio to play the female lead. On October 11, 2012 it was announced that Beyonce Knowles had withdrawn from consideration.

    Selznick International Pictures sold the film's copyright including film, story, screenplay, and score to Warner Brothers in 1954. Warner that year issued the first A Star Is Born (1954 film).< name=crd></> However in 1965, the film entered the List of films in the public domain in the United States due to Warner's failure to renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.<></><></> The original 35mm master elements remain with Warner Bros.

    Home media

    The film was released on Blu-ray in the U.S. by Kino Lorber Inc. on February 2012, featuring an authorized edition from the estate of David O. Selznick from the collection of George Eastman House.
    Notes

  • A Star Is Born] on


    Category:1937 films
    Category:American films
    Category:1930s drama films
    Category:English-language films
    Category:United Artists films
    Category:Films shot in Lone Pine, California
    Category:Films based on short fiction
    Category:Selznick International Pictures films
    Category:Films directed by William A. Wellman
    Category:Films about actors
    Category:Films set in Los Angeles, California
    Category:Films that won the Academy Award for Best Story
    Category:Screenplays by Dorothy Parker
  • More Public Domain Movies