A Star is Born (1937) – William A. Wellman & Jack Conway

The next film on the What Else To Watch list as I delve into the fascinating The Movie Book from DK Books is the very enjoyable, A Star is Born.

While this one has been remade a few times, I had never seen any incarnation of it, so I was definitely pleased to start with the original. The film stars Frederic March and the adorable Janet Gaynor.

Gayor plays Esther Blodgett, a young woman with dreams of making it big in Hollywood. She moves from her small town to pursue her passion but comes up against closed doors everywhere. No matter how she tries to break into the Biz, nothing works.

When she has a chance encounter with big screen icon, Norman Maine (March) not only is love in the air, but so is the chance for Esther, rebranded Vicki Lester to make it big. Unfortunately, Norman has a bit of a drinking habit and his star is waning, just as Vicki’s begun to wax.

It plays lightly and with a sense of fun, which is a bit sad, because apparently, Maine is one of those drunks who is funny, wears a tuxedo, and is incredibly charming, It misses the mark there a touch. You end up laughing along with him, instead of feeling sorry for him, and not seeing how much both their lives are turned around when Esther and he meet.

But Hollywood can be fickle, with Norman’s career in trouble, and Esther’s taking off will the two of them be able to hold onto their love for one another?

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Will his drinking resurface? Will his pride and his belief that he can only be a leading man prevent him from working? Will his jealousy of Ester’s rising star cause grief and jealousy?

This was a surprisingly involving film despite the playing up in the first half of the film of Maine being a fun drunk instead of recognising it as a problem. Gaynor is adorable and her performance is entirely engaging and captivating.

The film shows the price of Esther’s dream, the loss of her privacy for celebrity, but by film’s end, she still seems happy with her choices, and, would no doubt, make them again.

It is also no surprise that both Gaynor and March were nominated for Oscars that year. The film did walk away with two Academy Awards, one for Best Original Story, and the other for achievement in colour film.

I loved that Andy Devine had a role in the film, his voice is instantly recognisable and he provides some of the film’s lightest moments.

This was a solidly entertaining film, and another one I should have seen forever ago.

You too can catch up on classic titles, and films you may have never heard of when you grab a copy of DK Books’ The Movie Book! Pick one up, open a page, pick a flick, and enjoy!

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