Hazel Flagg of Warsaw, Vermont receives the news that her terminal case of radium poisoning from a workplace incident was a complete misdiagnosis with mixed emotions. She is happy not to be... See full summary »
William A. Wellman
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Esther Blodgett 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, is given a test, and is caught up in the Hollywood glamor machine (ruthlessly satirized). She and her idol Norman marry; but his career abruptly dwindles to nothing Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
The celebrated final line of the film was an afterthought. The original scene had Esther arriving at the Chinese Theater and collapsing in the forecourt sobbing, "Oh, Norman! Norman!" The scene was reshot two ways: with the familiar "Mrs. Norman Maine" tagline and the oddly irrelevant "Hello, everybody, this is Vicki Lester." See more »
In the night court scene, the judge refers to the "commonwealth" but the movie is set in California which isn't one of the states to have commonwealth status. The judge should have referred to the "state" instead. See more »
A Star is Born has had two remakes since this 1937 version, but when this film is discussed this is usually the version that stands out.
I guess if the story has a moral to it, it's that for one star in 'shimmering firmament' to be born one has to die. It can be a funny end like what happens to Lina Lamont in Singing in the Rain or it can be a tragic tale as what happens to Norman Maine in this film. But Kathy Selden and Vicki Lester do go on.
Esther Blodgett as played by Janet Gaynor is a symbol for all the young people, women in this case, who dream of seeing themselves on the big screen. Encouraged morally and financially by her grandmother May Robson, Gaynor goes to Hollywood and experiences all the frustrations of a young hopeful. But fate is on her side in the person of leading man Norman Maine, played by Fredric March in one of his best screen performances.
Though Gaynor and March were both nominated for Gaynor the part of Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester was no stretch for her. She'd been doing the part of fresh small town girls for most of her screen career, this being the best of them. For March however, he has to play a weak character, something he had not really tackled before.
I guess Hollywood knows itself better than anyone else and films about the industry can be scathing. The star is a creature with a fragile ego, one moment a whim can move mountains, a slip in public affections and no one wants to know you. March as Maine has been slipping for some time and he catches on, way too late.
But as March is going down, Gaynor is on the up escalator and they meet mid point and fall in love. How they deal with their joint careers or lack thereof in one case is what A Star is Born is all about.
March and Gaynor get good support from Adolphe Menjou as an understanding producer, Andy Devine as Gaynor's fellow boarder at her place of residence and most of all from Lionel Stander as the cynical press agent who inadvertently puts the finish to March's career.
Gaynor's final moment on the screen is one of the great classic events as she proclaims to the world she's Mrs. Norman Maine. And why March does what he does is will start an endless discussion of speculation. Watch this film and come to your own conclusion.
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