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An Enduring Tale
bkoganbing4 April 2009
Transferred from the world of Hollywood to the world of rock music, this latest version of A Star Is Born lacks the glamor of the other two, mainly because the field is a less glamorous one. Nevertheless the role of Esther has attracted only the best of players, from Janet Gaynor to Judy Garland and now Barbra Streisand. That's a hat trick hard to beat in any field.

In the other two versions, Fredric March and then James Mason, are a pair of self destructive drunks who when we meet them are on the downward side of their careers and have only one ennobling virtue, their love for Gaynor/Garland. Kris Kristofferson however is a multi-substance abuser and because we're talking about the rock scene has the groupies attached to him. Unlike in the other two versions, Streisand catches him with one and the whole thing about the pure love loses its potency because of it. However the incident does set him up for his final moment of self destruction.

All the supporting characters from the other two versions are completely eliminated. Gary Busey has a nice role as Kristofferson's music arranger who fulfills many of the functions that eliminated characters from the other versions have. The rest of the film's supporting parts are very undefined which makes this version weaker than the others.

But for those who are interested in hearing Barbra sing, A Star Is Born will more than satisfy you. The film got an Oscar for the song Evergreen which Kristofferson and Streisand duet and it became one of her best selling records. Judy Garland was similarly served in her version with The Man That Got Away although that song was nominated and did not win.

A Star Is Born is an enduring tale and I don't think we've seen the last of it. May the next group of players do the story as much justice as the three pairs of co-stars I've cited.
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The Ultimate Wallow for Barbra-philes...Watch Closely Now as the New DVD Has Solid Extras
Ed Uyeshima29 November 2006
Thirty years after its initial release, the third version of "A Star Is Born" finally comes to DVD in a package that should please the most devoted fans of Barbra Streisand. That would include me since I just saw her in concert singing among other numbers, the feminist anthem "Woman in the Moon" from this 1976 film. Easy to dismiss, the movie's career-polarizing story is such a sturdy pile of Hollywood-style clichés that variations of it exist in other films including Streisand's own "Funny Girl". This time reset to the then-contemporary music scene, the timeworn plot follows self-destructive rock star John Norman Howard on his deep-dive career descent just as he meets club singer Esther Hoffman who is awaiting her big break.

Troubles dog their courtship from the outset, as John Norman (both names please) responds to grasping fans and bloodless DJs with random acts of violence (from which he inexplicably escapes prosecution). To John Norman, Esther represents his last shot at happiness, and in turn, she is drawn to the innately decent, creative musician underneath the façade. In the movie's most pivotal scene, he gives Esther her big break at a benefit concert, and her career takes off. Inevitably, he can't handle the failure of his career in light of her meteoric success, and if you are familiar with any version of this story, you know the rest. Directed by Frank Pierson (although Streisand's budding directorial talents are obviously on display), the film still manages to draw me in, even though I know it is shamelessly contrived and manipulative. It still has a certain emotional resonance despite its numerous flaws.

Although Streisand in her prime seems like the ideal choice to play a rising singing star, her screen persona is simply too strong and predefined to play Esther credibly. The same can be said for her performing style since the script seems to make allowances for her softer Adult Contemporary-oriented material to be accepted within the otherwise hardened world of arena rock. From the moment she pops her head up as the middle of the Oreos, she can't help but come across as an established star. I can forgive the lapse simply because she is an unparalleled vocal talent, but what becomes less forgiving is how she makes Esther more strident than poignant when John Norman's woes become overwhelming. This creates an oddly discomfiting dynamic in the last part of the film when it becomes less about what caused the climactic event than Esther's response to it. This is capped off by an uninterrupted eight-minute close-up of her memorial performance - great except when she regrettably mimics John Norman's style toward the end.

Kristofferson, on the other hand, gives a superb performance throughout, managing a level of honesty that grounds the film and makes palpable his concurrent feelings of love, pride and resentment toward Esther. He makes his vodka-soaked onstage growling work within this context. Otherwise, what always strikes me as strange about this version is how all the supporting characters are relegated to the background as if they didn't exist unless they were interacting with the two principals. The only ones who register are Paul Mazursky as John Norman's level-headed manager Brian and Gary Busey as his cynical band manager Bobbie. Veteran cameraman Robert Surtees provides a nice burnish to the cinematography though a level of graininess persists in the print. A big seller in its day, the soundtrack is a hodgepodge of different styles from the 1970's - some songs still quite good ("Everything", "Woman in the Moon", "Watch Closely Now"), some that have moved to kitsch ("Queen Bee", Kenny Loggins' "I Believe in Love") and of course, the inescapable "Evergreen".

The print transfer on the 2006 DVD is clean and the sound gratefully crisp thanks to digital remastering. Streisand's participation is the chief lure of the extras beginning with her feature-length commentary. She gives insightful information about the genesis of the film, the casting and the reportedly troubled production. She is also refreshingly candid about the megalomania of Jon Peters, her hairdresser boyfriend who became the movie's producer, and her dissatisfaction with Pierson as a director. I just wish she could have provided more scene-specific comments that directly relate to what is on screen. She also tends to repeat the same anecdotes when the mood strikes her, e.g., it gets tiring to hear for the third time how the person playing the chauffeur was a friend of Peters. I think having a second commentator could have drawn out other nuggets from her.

There is a wardrobe test reel that shows some amusing 1970's clothes, especially Kristofferson's mixed-fabric poncho and orange polyester shirt. There are also twelve deleted scenes included with Streisand's optional commentary. One is a comic bread-baking scene which reminded me how much I like Streisand in farcical comedies. Another is an extended scene in which she plays "Evergreen" on the guitar in front of an awestruck Kristofferson who then falls asleep. The most interesting is an alternate take on the musical finale incorporating fast cuts, which I agree with Streisand should have been used. Fittingly, the theatrical trailers for all three versions of "A Star Is Born" are also included.
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Musical miscarriage ...
Merwyn Grote1 January 2006
To grasp where this 1976 version of A STAR IS BORN is coming from consider this: Its final number is sung by Barbra Streisand in a seven minute and forty second close-up, followed by another two-and-half-minute freeze frame of Ms. Streisand -- striking a Christ-like pose -- behind the closing credits. Over ten uninterrupted minutes of Barbra's distinctive visage dead center, filling the big screen with uncompromising ego. That just might be some sort of cinematic record.

Or think about this: The plot of this musical revolves around a love affair between two musical superstars, yet, while Streisand's songs are performed in their entirety -- including the interminable finale -- her costar Kris Kristofferson isn't allowed to complete even one single song he performs. Nor, though she does allow him to contribute a little back up to a couple of her ditties, do they actually sing a duet.

Or consider this: Streisand's name appears in the credits at least six times, including taking credit for "musical concepts" and her wardrobe (from her closet) -- and she also allegedly wanted, but failed to get co-directing credit as well. One of her credits was as executive producer, with a producer credit going to her then-boyfriend and former hairdresser, Jon Peters. As such, Streisand controlled the final cut of the film, which explains why it is so obsessed with skewing the film in her direction. What it doesn't explain is how come, given every opportunity to make The Great Diva look good, their efforts only make Streisand look bad. Even though this was one of Streisand's greatest box office hits, it is arguably her worst film and contains her worst performance.

Anyway, moving the melodrama from Hollywood to the world of sex-drugs-and-rock'n'roll, Streisand plays Esther Hoffman, a pop singer on the road to stardom, who shares the fast lane for a while with Kristofferson's John Norman Howard, a hard rocker heading for the off ramp to Has-beenville. In the previous incarnations of the story, "Norman Maine" sacrifices his leading man career to help newcomer "Vicky Lester" achieve her success. In the feminist seventies, Streisand & Co. want to make it clear that their heroine owes nothing to a man, so the trajectory is skewed; she'll succeed with or without him and he is pretty much near bottom from scene one; he's a burden she must endure in the name of love. As such, there is an obvious effort to make the leading lady not just tougher, but almost ruthless, while her paramour comes off as a henpecked twit.

Kristofferson schleps through the film with a credible indifference to the material; making little attempt to give much of a performance, and oddly it serves his aimless, listless character well. Streisand, on the other hand, exhibits not one moment of honesty in her entire time on screen. Everything she does seems, if not too rehearsed, at least too controlled. Even her apparent ad libs seem awkwardly premeditated and her moments of supposed hysteria coldly mechanical. The two have no chemistry, making the central love affair totally unbelievable. You might presume that his character sees in her a symbol of his fading youth and innocence, though at age 34, Streisand doesn't seem particularly young or naive. The only conceivable attraction he might offer to her is that she can exploit him as a faster route to stardom. And, indeed, had the film had the guts to actually play the material that way, to make Streisand's character openly play an exploitive villain, the film might have had a spark and maybe a reason to exist.

But I guess the filmmakers actually see Esther as a sympathetic victim; they don't seem to be aware just how cold-blooded and self absorbed she is. But sensitivity is not one of the film's strong points: note the petty joke of giving Barbra two African American back up singers just so the film can indulge in the lame racism of calling the trio The Oreos. And the film makes a big deal of pointing out that Esther retains her ethnic identity by using her given name of Hoffman, yet the filmmakers have changed the character's name of the previous films from "Esther Blodgett" so that Streisand won't be burdened with a name that is too Jewish or too unattractive. So much for ethnic pride.

The backstage back stabbing and backbiting that proceeded the film's release is near legendary, so the fact that the film ended up looking so polished is remarkable. Nominal director Frank Pierson seems to have delivered the raw material for a good movie, with considerable help from ace cinematographer Robert Surtees. And the film did serve its purpose, producing a soundtrack album of decent pop tunes (including the Oscar-winning "Evergreen" by Paul Williams and Streisand). But overall the film turned out to be the one thing Streisand reportedly claimed she didn't want it to be, a vanity project.
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The third and least workable version of the classic Hollywood tale.
gbrumburgh11 February 2001
The anticipation for this musical film was huge. It seemed the perfect star vehicle for Barbra Streisand and she hadn't had a hit for almost three years ("The Way We Were"). Janet Gaynor and Judy Garland were superlative in their creations of the classic tale of the Hollywood couple -- one star on the rise, the other on the skids. Could Streisand put her own indelible mark on this material as well and reestablish herself as a triple-threat performer?

Nope. Not even close. This third version (actually fourth, if you include 1932's "What Price Hollywood" starring Constance Bennett and Lowell Sherman) stalls early in the game by transposing the dramatic setting of Hollywood movie-making to the brash, uncouth pop/rock music scene... and it is only one of many fundamental mistakes this movie makes.

The rags-to-riches story of Esther Hoffman Howard ain't believable for one second. Streisand the struggling artist? She plays Barbra the hard-assed star from the very first scene, lacking the courage or ability to immerse herself into a fully-realized character. She brays and bullies from the onset, showing no emotional colors whatsoever in a performance bereft of weakness, vulnerability and, as a result, sympathy. Ironically, she played this part to perfection ten years before -- as Fanny Brice, the gawky chorus girl who became a Ziegfeld Follies legend. Well, somewhere in those ten years, is a big star who has forgotten how to laugh at herself.

Its been said that Elvis Presley was briefly considered for the part of John Norman Howard, the singer on the skids, but turned it down for fear of being upstage by Streisand. All the same, one wonders what "The King" might have done with a too-close-to-reality role like this. In the hands of Kris Kristofferson, he tosses in a performance so lackadaisical and careless that one wonders if he was sober at all during the film's shoot. They appear to be performing in two different movies. Neither one interesting.

The screenplay is hopeless trite and corny, fueling some of the most unintentionally funny scenes in recent memory. Streisand's fight scene with Kristofferson after she catches him in the sack with some chippy and her emotional cassette-ripping scene in the mansion after John Howard's death are just plain embarrassing. If she's such a perfectionist in real life, how did these two scenes ever get by the editor's scissors.

The one thing Streisand did right in this movie is the one thing she can never do wrong. Sing. Possessing arguably the finest vocal instrument known to man, she weaves absolute magic in her singing scenes, notably "Woman in the Moon" and especially her heart-breaking finale number, "Are You Watching Me Now." Here, and only here, does she seize an emotional connection to Esther that evaded her throughout the film.

Alas, it is not enough to save this film dud. But, if you must see this, I'd advise you to skip the acting scenes and fast-forward to each Streisand number. Better yet, buy the CD.
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Don't watch too closely now...
jc-osms28 April 2009
I enjoyed this 70's remake of the marvellous Judy Garland / James Mason classic from the 50's (itself a remake, film snobs) more than I expected without accepting that one isolated minute in it was better than its counterpart in the predecessor. A rocky update of the story is a decent idea and in fact lends itself well to the story-line and if the execution is a bit clunky and now dated, that's both pardonable and understandable.

Things I liked - well let's start with Kris Kristofferson who, with the more difficult part, certainly convinces as a hell-raising rock star, fuelled by drugs and alcohol, aware of tastes and fashions passing him by but with enough perception to see Streisand's Esther as the future. It's fun trying to pick out rock prototypes for his John Norman Howard character - I'm between Jim Morrison and Leon Russell myself, the latter married at the time ironically to sultry singer Rita Coolidge who herself gets a brief cameo appearance, while Howard's behaviour at Streisand's little night club where he "discovers" her recalls an infamous out of control episode in the "lost weekend" period in John Lennon's life, if memory serves. A pity they couldn't have trusted the writer of classics like "Help Me Make It Through The Night" and "Me And Bobby McGee" to contribute some of his own songs to the soundtrack and certainly his signature song here "Watch Closely Now" gets done to death.

I also quite enjoyed the soundtrack. I'm no fan of La Diva Streisand's singing or indeed acting but at least in her vocals she exercises some restraint and delivers a surprising variety of material demonstrating at least some versatility on her part, from the title-theme ballad "Evergreen", (the gorgeous music to which was, surprisingly enough written by her), light Labelle-type funk of "I Believe in Love" and the big torch ballad "The Woman in the Moon" which while beneath Judy's "The Man That Got Away", covers the same territory in a still acceptable way.

Things not to like - Streisand herself does a reasonable job and initially tones down her trademark "kooky" and "sensitive" personae a bit but you never really believe in her as a real person. Unfortunately as the film progresses so does her profile and we get embarrassingly lame scenes with the couple coo-ing at each other in various locations including a candle-surrounded bath scene, Streisand overacting furiously as she argues with a cassette-tape of Howard's voice after he's done his James Dean-type exit from the planet and worst of all that single long shot of her singing the finale medley, which is when you appreciate that yes, it's just another Barbie vanity exercise after all (especially when you see her name down as executive producer).

The dialogue is pretty rock-star cliché throughout and some of the situations come across very second-hand too (Howard snorting up before every show, his assaults on a critical dee-jay, Streisand's MOR music somehow wowing a crowd of rock 'n' rollers at a benefit gig) and of course the familiarity with the story reduces the surprise element of some of the plot developments.

All told though, long as it was, there were far worse films than this made in the 70's. By the way, what a pity they never released the version of "Evergreen" with Kristofferson harmonising on the middle section - it works a treat and adds to an already very pretty melody.
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Streisand's feminist re-thinking of a classic movie story
Isaac58558 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Barbra Streisand brought her own vision to A STAR IS BORN, the third version of this classic Hollywood story about the romance between an up and coming star and her alcoholic husband whose career is fading into oblivion. Streisand put her own stamp on this movie, making the story more acceptable to her and more accessible to 1970s film audiences. She changed the setting of the story from films to the world of music, making her Esther Hoffman a struggling singer who is discovered by an alcoholic, self-destructive rocker named John Norman Howard (Kris Kristofferson)who grooms her for stardom while his own career falls apart. We all know this story and have seen either of the previous versions and some were unsettled by the fact that in this version, John Norman doesn't commit suicide, he is killed in a car accident instead, taking away a lot of the power of the story. The point of the original story is that the actor sacrifices his own life so that his wife won't give up the career she's worked so hard for. One of the most amusing parts of the original and 1954 versions is the whole episode about Esther changing her name so it looks better on a marquee. Here, our feminist heroine, Esther Hoffman, refuses to change her name and for me, this small but vital plot points diluted a lot of the power of this story. This production is overblown and uneven. It should be understood that Streisand was just on the edge of insanity while making this film. She was involved at the time with future film producer Jon Peters, who was running her career and her life. Peters butted heads with leading man Kristofferson as well as credited director Frank Pierson, who pretty much directed this film in name only...Streisand and Peters had the last word on everything regarding this film, much to its detriment, due mainly to Streisand's complete trust in Peters, who really knew nothing about film-making at this time. But no matter what else she does, this movie comes alive whenever Streisand sings. Highlights for me were "Queen Bee", "Woman in the Moon", "With One More Look at You" and, of course, the Oscar-winning "Evergreen." With all the hats she was wearing while making this film, needless to say, Streisand was not very focused on her performance here, which can be described, kindly, as uneven. Kristofferson, in a role originally offered to Elvis Presley, is strong and surprisingly sexy as John Norman Howard and Gary Busey also scores as John Norman's manager. For hard-core Streisand fans only.
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Loved Kris
jazzmanbp26 March 2006
I am and was very entertained by the movie. It was my all time favorite movie of 1976. Being raised in the 70's , I was so in love with Kris Kristoffersons look and demeanor,of course I am no movie critic,but for the time era,I think it was very good. I very much like the combo of Streisand and Kristofferson. I thought they worked very well together. I have seen the movie many times and still love the two of them as Esther and John Norman. I am a very huge fan of Kris and see him in concert when I can. What a talented singer song writer,not to mention,actor. I have seen him in many movies,but still think back to A star is Born.
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Groovy Babs!
matty0327 May 2000
My mom took me to see this movie when it came out around Christmas of 1976. I loved it then and I love it now. I know everyone makes fun of Barbra's hair in this one, but I think she looks and sounds great! ...And I seem to remember a number of women who copied that permed look at the time! Also, the bath tub scene between Streisand and Kristoferson is just so sexy! The music is great as well. This is the groovy 70's Babs at her best!
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A magnificent vision of the 70's!
barbra_streisand_bestfan16 February 2009
Personnaly I really loved this movie, and it particularly moved me. The two main actors are giving us such great performances, that at the end, it is really heart breaking to know what finally happened to their characters.

The alchemy between Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson is marvelous, and the song are just great the way they are.

That's why I didn't feel surprised when I learned it had won 5 golden globe awards (the most rewarded movie at the Golden Globes), an Oscar and even a Grammy. This movie is a classic that deserves to be seen by anyone. A great movie, that has often been criticized (maybe because Streisand dared to get involved in it, surely as a "co-director"). Her artistry is the biggest, and that will surely please you!
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Sentimental favorite; surpasses the previous versions in many ways
robb_77220 April 2006
A blockbuster at the time of it's original release (it was the second-highest grossing film of 1976), the third screen version of A STAR IS BORN has always divided critics and fans alike. The film open to scathingly negative reviews, however, $5.6 million-budgeted picture went on to gross over $150 million at the box office and won an Academy Award and five Golden Globes. It's not without some irony that Streisand's most commercially successful film would also remain her most controversial. For every ten fans who state that STAR is Streisand's best film, there are always ten more who claim it is the weakest film in her filmography. Although both sides have some merit to support their claims, it should still be noted that the seventies take on A STAR IS BORN remains one of the most touching and highly entertaining showbiz dramas that Hollywood ever produced. For my money, it's the best version of the often-told tale.

The film is solidly enjoyable and throughly absorbing. Changing the setting from the old Hollywood studio system to the competitive world of the music industry was actually a great idea, and the screenplay forges a realistic contrast between the characters' romance and their careers. This is the main area that the 1976 version of A STAR IS BORN actually surpasses it's classic predecessors. For example, the film is especially successful when depicting the clashing personal and professional difficulties during recording sessions and the never-ending phone calls that interrupt Kristofferson's songwriting attempts. This version of the story is also more believable in it's portrayal of the lead characters. For example, the female leads in the two previous versions were so virtuous and self-sacrificing that they came off as saints. On the other hand, Esther, the female lead in this version, is not only portrayed as being strong and passionate, but also flawed and conflicted. This makes her feel more "real" than the Janet Gaynor or Judy Garland characters felt in the previous films, and makes the story that much more effective.

The performances are all on target, even if some of the supporting characters aren't fleshed out enough. If you're looking for an actress/singer who can walk the fine line between tough and vulnerable without making herself seem like a script contrivance, Streisand is definitely the girl you want. She's one of the few film stars who can make even the most banal dialogue seem fresh and natural, and, as usual, she manages to make a strong emotional connection with the viewer. Simply put, her Esther is a fully-realized, three-dimensional human being. Kris Kristofferson may not get much respect now for his laid-back characterization, however, he's always interesting watch and displays a magnetic charisma here that he seldom displayed elsewhere in his career. Kristofferson actually received rave reviews at the time from NEWSWEEK, TIME, and even the NEW YORKER's usually vicious Pauline Kael. Gary Busey and Paul Mazursky also give believable performances, but both have a fairly minimal amount of screen time.

The film's soundtrack recording was also a massive success, hitting the #1 on Billboard's Hot 200 and selling over four million copies in the US alone. The Streisand-composed "Evergreen" (with lyrics from Paul Williams) is unarguably one of the most gorgeous songs in contemporary pop, brought to even-further life by an absolutely incomparable vocal performance from Streisand. The rest of the film's original songs (mostly composed by Williams and Rupert Holmes) are pretty good as well, and Streisand sounds fantastic - her live solo numbers remain in the memory long after the rest of the movie has faded. Streisand's vibrant performances bring "Woman In The Moon" and "With One More Look At You" to thrilling life, and make even sillier numbers like "Queen Bee" work far better than they have the right to. Kristofferson's solo numbers sound somewhat tuneless, however, that may have been intentional since he is playing a singer in decline.

Though naturally dated in some respects (it definitely does reflect the decade in which it was made), the seventies take on A STAR IS BORN still holds up remarkably well. The film is well-mounted and slickly produced, the chemistry between the leads is extremely powerful and always feels genuine, and Streisand has two emotional scenes near the finale that are both aching effective. In conclusion, A STAR IS BORN is not only entertaining and moving, but it also transcends all criticism.
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Great song. Lousy movie. TERRIBLE hair!
Rob-1209 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Rock star John Norman Howard (Kris Kristofferson) turns lounge singer Esther Hoffman (Barbra Streisand) into an overnight singing star. Esther's star rises while John's goes into decline, thanks to drugs and alcohol. After about two hours, John does the self-destructive-red-converible-160-MPH-crack-up-on-a-desert-highway thing. The best thing about this movie is the music, especially the song, "Evergreen." Barbra Streisand sings well, but you can't take her seriously as an up-and-coming star, when she is *already* a star. The very first time she appears, singing in a back alley bar, she looks like an established singing star who is slumming for the night, not like a struggling unknown who is trying to launch her singing career. She is too confident, too professional. Her apartment looks like a page out of "Apartment Living," not some hole-in-the-wall apartment where a real struggling singer would live.

Kris Kristofferson handles the self-centered, out-of-control rock star role like...well, like a singer who is trying to be an actor but doesn't have much acting talent. The direction is tepid, the story is slow and dull.

But the worst thing about this movie is not the acting, or the lame direction, or the slow story. It's the hair! After staring at Kristofferson's and Streisand's awful 70's hairdos for 2+ hours, your eyes hurt.
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carrienations4 December 2003
This is a horrid disaster of a film. From beginning to end, it's filled with bad acting and even worse direction and editing. The only redeeming parts of the film are a few numbers by Streisand, because the Kristofferson parts are impossible to watch or listen to. The main problem of this film is that we never see Kristofferson's character at his peak or Streisand's character struggling. The first should be seen in decline and the second rising. The final Streisand number _could have been_ one of the greatest finales in film, if it was directed and edited properly. The single framed shot of her face for the duration of the song was a terrible mistake. Had the band, audience and wide shots of the stage been shown, this number could have been dynamic and interesting. This film must have been directed and edited by an NYU film school dropout. The only thing worse may be the wretched screenplay. The final musical number is the only redeeming part of this film, and even that is botched completely by misguided technical decisions.
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THIS star should have been aborted.
genxjeff6 December 2003
This film is a huge steaming pile.

I have no idea why anyone felt that the Garland/Mason version needed to be redone, nor why Striesand would have been a first choice to star.

For that matter, I have no idea why our people (Gay Americans) tend largely to regard Striesand as some kind of treasure. At least in my opinion, she had peaked professionally with with Funny Girl, and Bogdanovich's What's Up Doc.

Do yourself a favor and rent the Judy classic, or even the original (a fine film in its own right), but please, Please, PLEASE skip this stinkpot!
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Overblown 70s tripe
DrJoTab17 November 1998
Kris Kristofferson, at his drugged-out peak in the mid-70s, finds himself barely able to squeeze on to the screen alongside La Streisand's humongous ego and discount-store feminism.

None of the characters are really likable; I was _so_ glad when Kristofferson's Ferrari went over that hill and crashed.

If you want to see a good movie about rock and roll stardom, try _The Buddy Holly Story_ (made only about a year and a half after this dreck).
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Slit you own wrists, it's faster and more fun
thisisperfection27 December 2007
Really an amazing pile of pap!

A predictable, slow moving, soul destroying, mind numbing movie to which, slitting your own wrists with a rusty bread knife seems... well, almost necessary.

The acting is over done for the thin dialogue, every scene is at least twice as long as it needs to be, the intricate details of how this career is collapsing or that career is rising is just far too dreary and mundane for words. The music would be good if you didn't have to sit through the movie, but really, three good songs is not enough reward for the effort required to watch the movie.

Watching this film I prayed to God for narcolepsy or for someone to shoot me.

Never, ever, ever again.
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AWESOME movie!! Just watched the DVD
booey-23 December 2006
I was 16 when I first saw the movie, and it has always been a HUGE favorite of mine. Of course, you can't deny the appeal of Kristofferson in the movie - HOW FINE IS THAT MAN???????????? Sheesh. He still is. He's the bad boy every woman secretly wants. His acting is flawless. He played a drunk/druggie only the way someone who really had gone through it could - and he had - in '76 he finally got on the wagon, so it was all very real.

The music is GREAT and even though in later years I thought Streisand was somewhat not the right person for him in a physical beauty sense, I think it's more a problem for male viewers than female. Us gals are just looking at Kris - and naturally the guys are looking at the female interest - my husband cannot watch the movie b/c of her - he doesn't like her looks. But I did make him sit through just the red Ferrari scene on the road towards the end just so he could see how well done it was - the camera work was so perfect and you were totally in the car with him with the music blasting - you should have seen it on my 50" plasma - WOW!!!! And lastly, the transfer quality was GREAT - anamorphic widescreen and really clear with great color and very low noise except for dark areas which is normal for all film.

Brought back some great memories of my mom and I loving this movie together, I bought a copy for her for Christmas. Would have loved to watch it together with her last night.

I have tried to sit through the original with Judy Garland, but I guess seeing this one first, I just can't get into the earlier era. Watching all the concert footage in the '76 version was so much like what I was living at the time.

I am working my way through the commentary by Streisand, but she seems to only talk about herself and the songs, so far she has barely even mentioned Kris or details about scenes in the movie. Her voice sounds EXACTLY the same now as then.

Check it out, if you grew up in the same era as me (born in 1960) you will love it.

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One word: terrible.
Lindzcade20 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
So I had heard from a few people that this film had brought them to tears in the theater. As I watched it for the first time I was expecting another romantic, tear-jerking Barbra Streisand film; Something like The Way We Were. I was certainly wrong. The chemistry between the two main characters, Esther Hoffman and her John Howard, was nonexistent, making it impossible to get attached to the characters. There wasn't anything romantic about it. Streisand's character fell for an alcoholic drug addict who couldn't sing a single note without making me want to hit the fast-forward button. At one point her character finds her husband in bed with another woman and she forgives him about five minutes later. There's nothing romantic about a deadbeat rock star and a woman who can't seem to realize it until he actually dies. Parts of the movie seemed to drag on and on, and I kept asking myself when it was going to end.

The death of John Howard was completely predictable. There was totally obvious foreshadowing of his reckless behavior early on in the movie, and when he died I felt no emotion whatsoever. It wasn't a tragic accident, it was him basically being an idiot. Not to mention throughout the movie I was distracted by his hideous beard.

The only parts of this movie worth seeing are the Streisand songs. The ending of the movie when she sings "With One More Look At You/Watch Closely Now" was my reason for giving this film a whopping 3/10. Those 7 minutes were the only part of the movie I actually felt an emotion other than irritation and anger.
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Horrible remake of a classic.
sandiego-419 January 2001
Horrible remake of an A+ classic remake. The acting is bottom of the barrel, as well the direction and production values. Paul Williams' 'Evergreen,' now seriously dated, was best part of the film. Everyone involved has done better, but none have done worse. Rent the Judy Garland/James Mason version and see what quality movie making is all about.
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Not just for Streisand fans
Jim Powell12 March 2013
OK, granted the story of the born star is about Streisand's character, but the love story alone is fairly universal. Can love survive when one partner is seen as more successful than the other? Both Streisand and Kristofferson give solid performances. These characters are in love but are clearly on different trajectories.

The music is important for the forward movement of the film, but it's not really a musical, per se. Both Kristofferson's and Streisand's performances are great (so get the soundtrack if you don't have it).

I think this movie still holds up even almost 40 years (can you believe it?) later. The messages in the movie seem to be stronger once you've lived life, had success, had failure, been in love, and lost love.

Overall, do you need to be a Streisand fan to like the movie? It helps. If you don't like her, you won't likely enjoy the movie, but she doesn't come across as the sole focus of the movie. Her story, his story, and their story seems to be told in equal measure. Haven't seen it? Do. Saw it years ago? See it again soon.
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Streisand is brilliant.
noon_dale21 November 2008
She is such an extraordinary singer, who cares about anything else!!!! That final scene is one of the best moments in all of show biz - bar none!! I'm glad she kept the camera on herself for ten minutes - she deserves that iconic status - such is the power of the voice.

I first saw this film when I was five and it had a huge impact on me. I see it today, and yes, I can see some of the flaws (like Esther wanting to leave the Grammy's right as her award is being announced).

But some of the other user comments are just plain false - I mean, where is the gratuitous nudity - maybe we saw different films???

Streisand's singing ability is monumental, and if she has a big ego - fine!

She's earned it.
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A must for my collection
robertwadebrown24 August 2005
Barbra Streisand is a tour de force in this Hollywood story. Her performances and the songs are one-of-a-kind and are special in the halls of great movies. The scene where she is introduced to the unexpecting audience by Kristopherson, against the crowds' wishes and hers, only to turn them around with her magnificent performance of "Woman In the Moon" is one of the best examples on film of how well a great performer can win over an audience. It's real. The scene where she records Evergreen ranks with the best in the business.. all live, no lip-sync, very special. Streisand is often criticized for being a Diva, but she delivers on this one. She is majestic singing "With One More Look At You. She deserved the Oscar she and Paul Williams got for Evergreen. Kristopherson had his moments too, far above most of his movie appearances. This version of the "Born" franchise ranks with the first one of 1937 (Janet Gaynor, Frederic March)although I will always enjoy Judy Garland and James Mason musical remake of 1954. I haven't seen the DVD yet and don't know about its quality.
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A new look at a great story.
redhotchillichic29 October 2004
I recently watched the '54 version of this film with Judy, and while i appreciated the story and music, i found that the film failed to hold my attention. I expected the '76 remake to be the same story, except with a Barbra twist. I was pleasantly surprised - it was a much more realistic and modern look at fame, money, love and the price of it all. This version is so much more real than the '54 one, with arguably better music, better acting, a more gripping plot line, and, of course, a deeper love. I do not understand why the previous film is on the American Film Institute's top 100 list, while this gripping remake fails to make a mark on any critic's list.
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Yes. A star was born in the American film 'A star is born' directed by Frank Pierson.
FilmCriticLalitRao26 May 2015
It has been observed on many occasions that ordinary people and amateur viewers have the habit of comparing films. This might not be the ideal method to explore some good qualities of a film. Each film is unique as it presents a story using best possible actors as well as technicians. It is by using this yardstick that one can take the decision of not comparing the two previous versions of 'A Star Is Born' with this 1978 film which has some of its own moments of sublime grandeur. Actor, Singer Kris Kristofferson plays an important role as an eccentric rock star whose excesses also seem to cause him extreme discomfort. His romantic chemistry with Barbara Streisand is a great joy to watch. One can easily sense the disappearance of selfish attitude in their performances. Both actors perform nicely as they enable different artists to appreciate each other. It is interesting to watch how an artist is able to appreciate other people's feelings. Barbara Streisand is absolutely amazing as a shy musician who is unable to understand the world of her rock star husband.
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My Guilty Pleasure
Zebb673 January 2016
This film is my number one guilty pleasure as far as movies go. Yes, the critics were right about everything: Streisand's pop songs sound more like her usual, Broadway show-stoppers; Streisand's character's instant stardom is contrived, to say the least; Kris is an excellent songwriter, but he, uh, can't sing a note (yet he didn't write any of the songs in the film); and (getting a little mean here) even with a beard, Kristofferson is prettier than Babs. So why have I seen this film at least 100 times? Well, it was extremely entertaining despite it's many clichés and the other things I've sited. The music is also good, as cheesy as Babs' songs are and as poorly sung as Kris' are. I'm apparently not alone--in 1976, only Rocky made more money at the box office (not bad for an R-Rated movie in a year that had many great films, such as Taxi Driver, Network, All the President's Men and The Omen, The Bad News Bears, to list a few. Very dated today, but I still want to watch it again.
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Everyone should have this love once in a lifetime
Linda York6 September 2015
It was beautiful and timeless. Whether Streisand Fan or not, the chemistry was perfect and they both did a great job. The music was amazing and if you want a movie that is worth taking the time to see, this is it. I have watched it many times over the years and never get sick of it. Like Love Story, you know the characters well and feel you are there with them. Like a good book that you won't want to put down. Of course, the classic The Way we were was amazing too. Streisand is an amazing artist all the way around. Many would say love stories are chick flicks...but not for those who are in love or ever have been. I still consider this a modern day love story. Everyone should have this love once in a lifetime. Other titles you would love if you like this one or others I have mentioned in this review are, Out of Africa with Meryl Streep and Bridges over Madison county with Streep and Eastwood. Finally an unlikely love story that was very entertaining is Mr. & Mrs, Smith of course. I love stories that have many emotions and make me believe..again.
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