As I mentioned in my last report, there were two other movies I watched in February. They were the last two, and I was waiting until I had watched my first movie in March to report them.

41. A Star Is Born (1937)
This movie has problems. It's a disjointed tale in two halves. In the first half, a "young" girl rises to Hollywood stardom. The second half is the fall of the Hollywood leading man that helped her up. What's weird about it is how late in the movie we met the man. Yes, his influence propels her to stardom, but we probably should have met him earlier if we are going to devote so much screen time to him. It's an interesting film, but won Best Picture probably more for its Technicolor and innovative story than the quality of its production.

42. A Star Is Born (1954)
This film fixes all the flaws in its predecessor, but then makes the mistake of adding superfluous songs just for Judy Garland to sing. James Mason takes over the male lead, driving the story from beginning to end with a completely believable, threatening performance. Even the supporting characters are much better served as they are utilized to define the tragic social dynamic of the film instead of awkwardly motivating the plot from scene to scene as in the original. Other than the songs -- all sung by Garland, none of which are necessary in the story -- this is simply a better movie all around. If you watch just one, make it this one.

43. A Star Is Born (1976)
And then there was Streisand. This film was "modernized" to take the leads out of Hollywood and make them pop music icons, much to the film's detriment. Unlike previous female leads, Streisand doesn't need to change her name or style to fit the mold of a star that the public expects: she just needs a little coaching. Ugh. Her lead is simultaneously pushy and whiny and quite frankly hard to like. Instead of sacrificing himself for her career, the male lead simply gets drunk and dies in a car crash so that Streisand can complain about how selfish he was and then sing his songs in "tribute." (If I was married to that shrew, I think I'd crawl into a bottle as well.) This is the worst of the three by far, and probably the reason no one has remade the film yet is the bad taste this one leaves in your mouth.

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To be continued...


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