A Brief History of “A Star is Born”

A Brief History of "A Star is Born"
Many consider the film A Star is Born to be a star in its own right. Inspired by a 1932 film, the first rendition of this cinema classic was released in 1937. Since that initial premier, the film has gone through many other adaptations. It has been remade on film, it has appeared on stage and in theaters, and it has even been released as a radio play. In September, 2018, A Star is Born will premier once again, making this the fourth time it has appeared on-screen.

Here is a brief history of A Star is Born to get you ready for this newest release!

Inspiration for A Star is Born

A classic in Hollywood history, A Star is Born was inspired by a 1932 film with a very similar plot. The film was called What Price Hollywood?, and focuses on a young woman with big Hollywood dreams. She gets noticed by a big-shot Hollywood director, who is on a path to destruction due to his drinking problem.

In the film, the female lead, Mary Evans, is played by Constance Bennett, and the drinking-troubled director, Max Carey, is played by Lowell Sherman. The film was based on a short story by Adela Rogers St. Johns, who took her inspiration from actress Colleen Moorea and her booze-troubled producer husband, John McCormack.

The film was a box office flop among audiences and lost $50,000.

Additional Films

Despite its failure with audiences, What Price Hollywood? was a critical success. Co-producer David O. Selznick saw greater potential for the story, and decided to make his own version of the film, calling it A Star is Born. The film was released in 1937, and despite Sleznick nearly being sued for plagiarism, the movie was a big hit with audiences across the country.  

The success didn’t stop there however, and in 1954, one of the most iconic versions of the story was released by Warner Bros. For this version, the adaptation came out as a musical by the same name, featuring Judy Garland and James Mason. It was a three-hour show, and acted as Garland’s comeback after leaving MGM. To this day, it is considered among the defining performances of her career. The musical also resulted in many iconic numbers amongst fans, including “A Star is Born,” “It’s a New World,” “Born in a Trunk,” and many more.

The show wasn’t dead yet though. In 1976, a third version was released for the rock music crowd by Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. In contrast to the original What Price Hollywood?, this rendition was loved by audiences, but had poor reviews from critics.

Upcoming Release

In September, 2018, over 80 years after the original release, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper will star in the next rendition of A Star is Born. Talks about another remake began in 2011, with Clint Eastwood to direct, and Beyoncé selected as the female star. Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Christian Bale were all approached to be the male star, but none of these selections panned out. The following year, in October, 2012, Beyoncé bailed on the project and the movie plans fizzled out. In March, 2016, however, Bradley Cooper agreed to come on as the director, making his debut behind the camera, as well as starring as the male lead. Lady Gaga came on in August, and the filming began in April of 2017.

Perhaps it’s just a story that resonates well with many audiences, or perhaps it’s comforting to watch something we know and like. Whatever the case, fans will surely enjoy yet another rendition of this timeless Hollywood tale.

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