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Matt Hough

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William A. Wellman’s original 1937 version of A Star Is Born offers stunning performances, a lush production wonderfully directed, and beautifully restored Technicolor that makes this far and away the best home video version of this classic tale ever issued.



A Star Is Born (1937)



Released: 27 Apr 1937
Rated: Passed
Runtime: 111 min




Director: William A. Wellman, Jack Conway, Victor Fleming
Genre: Drama, Romance



Cast: Janet Gaynor, Fredric March, Adolphe Menjou
Writer(s): Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, Robert Carson



Plot: A young woman comes to Hollywood with dreams of stardom, and achieves them only with the help of an alcoholic leading man whose best days are behind him.



IMDB rating: 7.3
MetaScore: 77





Disc Information...

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Matt Hough

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Thanks, Matt!

I'm giddy with excitement!!!
I'm serious: you will not believe your eyes. I couldn't get the silly smile off my face for the first 30 minutes because I was seeing rich, deep colors and detail I had never seen before, and I've watched this movie probably fifty times in my life.
 

Rob W

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Going to wait and see this at the TCM Festival next month before I crack open the disc - tempting as it may be... My hunch is they will schedule it in the Chinese theatre so it will never get any better than that.
 

noel aguirre

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I am in shock! Mine just arrived and this is unbelievable- not only the colors but the clarity as well. There should be added a new Oscar category in 2022 for Best Restoration and this and The Wonderful World of the Brother Grimm should share it! Tied for best release of the year in my book- everyone should get this!
 

Matt Hough

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I am in shock! Mine just arrived and this is unbelievable- not only the colors but the clarity as well. There should be added a new Oscar category in 2022 for Best Restoration and this and The Wonderful World of the Brother Grimm should share it! Tied for best release of the year in my book- everyone should get this!
Exactly my feelings about it!
 

Will Krupp

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I second that, Allen! I had my big girl "gasp" moment when those opening credits rolled and the LA basin looked like it went on and on forever with those incredible strawberry red credits rolling over the whole thing. As someone mentioned earlier, it's not only the color but the clarity and, I would like to add, the depth of the image that's so astounding. I finally "get" those chiaroscuro moments of Esther and her grandmother at the train station. A simply stunning presentation.

I imagine most people cracked Grimm open first but this is the one I had to see immediately.
 

PMF

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I couldn't, I was all ALONE in the office yesterday!
There will be some Hell to pay for your co-workers if and when you come to discover that, in truth, you were ALONE because the entirety of your whole office was actually at home watching their own copies.
[…{There should be added a new Oscar category in 2022 for Best Restoration and this and The Wonderful World of the Brother Grimm should share it! Tied for best release of the year in my book- everyone should get this!
Agreed. A long overdue category. And to kick it all off, AMPAS must first introduce it with a Lifetime Achievement Oscar for Robert A. Harris
 
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RobertMG

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There will be some Hell to pay for your co-workers if and when you come to discover that, in truth, you were ALONE because the entirety of your whole office was actually at home watching their own copies.

Agreed. A long overdue category. And to kick it all off, AMPAS must first introduce it with a Lifetime Achievement Oscar for Robert A. Harris
Actually sent a idea like this to AMPAS and suggested they name it in honor of Robert Osborne
 
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benbess

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I'm serious: you will not believe your eyes. I couldn't get the silly smile off my face for the first 30 minutes because I was seeing rich, deep colors and detail I had never seen before, and I've watched this movie probably fifty times in my life.

When I read your enthusiastic review, and even more when I saw that you've watched this movie something like fifty times, I decided to get this new blu-ray, even though as usual I've been spending too much on blu-rays. For me this was my very first viewing of this 1937 version of A Star is Born. In fact, somehow in all my years of movie watching I don't think I've ever seen a movie with Janet Gaynor before. Anyway, Gaynor was great in this role of a rising star experiencing from up close a shooting star fall.

Matt Hough in his review says well what she brings to the movie:

"While Janet Gaynor does get to show some amusing impersonations of stars’ voices (Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Mae West) and go through a litany of vocal choices trying to get a line just right, the script lets her down just a little not allowing us to see the on-screen charisma that has so enchanted audiences (the 1954 remake uses the lengthy “Born in a Trunk” sequence to show us Esther’s versatile star quality). Of course, Gaynor’s performance away from Vicki’s screen persona is wonderfully honest and moving, and the lady herself had become a huge box-office star of the silent and early sound eras by playing the young innocent just as Esther is here, so perhaps the film is intimating that Esther is basically playing herself."

There's humor and tragedy in this 1937 movie, and I was misting up a few times, and especially at the end. Interesting how "meta" this movie is with the close-up on the shooting screenplay at the beginning and end! For me that was a jaw-dropping touch. Frederic March gives a very strong performance too, as always. Right now I don't recall a weak performance from March in all the films I've seen him in, including as Mathew Harrison Brady in Inherit the Wind in 1960. To me he's not quite as magnetic as James Mason in 1954, but very few are.

Although by a small margin I personally find the 1954 version with Judy Garland and James Mason even more moving and powerful, this earlier version is more or less tied for me with the 2018 film with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. I still haven't seen the 1976 film.

As mentioned in the review, this is another amazing transfer from the original 3-strip Technicolor negatives. It's another Warner Archive release that makes you feel like you are not just in the director's theater, but almost on set. One of the many brief shots I liked was the panorama of Los Angeles in 1937, which is so colorful I wonder if some special effects were maybe used to enhance it? I have no idea, but in any case it looks fantastic, as does everything else in this film. As a few have mentioned, the slap at the Oscar ceremony in this movie was somewhat eerie to experience given recent events.

star panorama of la.jpeg
star is born oscars.jpeg
star is born poster.jpeg
born poster 2.jpeg
stars are born.jpeg
 
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benbess

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A few of the items from imdb trivia....


"The first all-color film nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

When the drunken Norman Maine character raucously interrupts the Oscar presentation, it was déja vu for Janet Gaynor. She had brought her sister to the Academy Awards ceremony in 1928, when she won the first Best Actress Oscar ever awarded, for 7th Heaven (1927). Her sister became very drunk and completely out of control, thoroughly embarrassing Gaynor.

The Oscar that Janet Gaynor receives in the film is her own Oscar, which she won for her role in 7th Heaven (1927).

The movie's line "Hello, everybody. This is Mrs. Norman Maine." was voted as the #52 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.

Early in the film, when Esther stops at Grauman's Chinese Theater to see the stars' footprints, the second one she visits is Harold Lloyd, which is to the right of Janet Gaynor's own prints from 1929, a portion which is visible on screen, including the "r" in her signature."
 

noel aguirre

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TCM was showing it this morning with the older transfer which not only is inferior but makes the film seem ancient. The new restoration really brings new life to it as they say. It’s fresh and vibrant viewing it now and I could never go back to the Selznick collection version I also own ever again.

TCM should do an all-day theme on film restoration and show the updated versions of both this and TWWOFTBGrimm and others that have made their broadcast versions obsolete with their hosts discussing such. But I’d gather it would be costly for them to update what they have and license?
 

RobertMG

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TCM was showing it this morning with the older transfer which not only is inferior but makes the film seem ancient. The new restoration really brings new life to it as they say. It’s fresh and vibrant viewing it now and I could never go back to the Selznick collection version I also own ever again.

TCM should do an all-day theme on film restoration and show the updated versions of both this and TWWOFTBGrimm and others that have made their broadcast versions obsolete with their hosts discussing such. But I’d gather it would be costly for them to update what they have and license?
On 1937's ASIB if they aired the new release no one would need to buy it - there might be a window where it cannot be aired. TCM is still the best out there but they cannot get Easter right they should be showing Quo Vadis this weekend too even at XMAS frustrating that the always leave one or two out and the new graphics are not relaxing but hyper strange. Ben though has filled dear Mr. O's shoes and Eddie Mueller is class!
 

noel aguirre

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On 1937's ASIB if they aired the new release no one would need to buy it - there might be a window where it cannot be aired. TCM is still the best out there but they cannot get Easter right they should be showing Quo Vadis this weekend too even at XMAS frustrating that the always leave one or two out and the new graphics are not relaxing but hyper strange. Ben though has filled dear Mr. O's shoes and Eddie Mueller is class!
Yes and the 2 ladies are no slouches either!
Alicia Malone co-hosted an incredible weekly hour long podcast on HBO Max after each episode of The Gilded Age recently which was a fantastic historical journey into NY during that period. And Jacqueline Stewart is now the Chief Artistic and Programming Officer at the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
 

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