Pope | Wisconsin, United States | 09/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The historical 1937 film A STAR IS BORN has remained a classic for many many years. This film's merits are many, I need not comment on them, but will make a comment on the cast. While the entire cast is outstanding, the real standout is Janet Gaynor who portrays Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester in such a way that you can connect with her and feel her sincerity on a level that you cannot with Judy Garland in the 1954 version (and the less said about the 1970s Barbra Streisand version the better). The rest of the performances in this film are super.
This film, produced by the late great David O. Selznick and released through United Artists, is currently in the public domain and many of the numerous DVDs/VHSs of such films are of deplorable picture and sound quality. Fortunately, it is not so on this DVD release from Image. The colors are extremely bold and vibrant. There are some age-related artifacts present and graininess is visible in a number of places, however this has been kept to a minimum. I will forgive these shortcomings considering the elements used for the DVD transfer are nearly 70 years old. 3-strip Technicolor was still in its infancy in 1937 (indeed, the first feature shot entirely in this process was released only 2 years earlier), but some outstanding results were had even then. The sound, while obviously rendered in 1937 recording technology, has been nicely cleaned up for this release, allowing the musical score by the venerable Max Steiner to shine as it should.
Pass up the cheap DVDs and look only for the release from Image Entertainment, edition # ID2777IMDVD. I guarantee this will be the best DVD of A STAR IS BORN you will find."
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams....
F. Gentile | Lake Worth, Florida, United States | 06/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though this is the only non-musical version of the thrice filmed tale, this original is my favorite. It may more than likely appear dated to some, but it is not only a wonderful story about the price of fame, but an early record of Hollywood history. Fredric March and Janet Gaynor are wonderfully touching as the doomed couple ,"Norman Maine" and "Vicki Lester", she being the new discovery whose *star* is ascending, totally eclipsing March's descending stardom. This was my first glimpse at Janet Gaynor, and I fell in love with her. May Robson is great also as Gaynors feisty Granny, who encourages the young, unknown dreamer to follow her dreams, and is there at the end when she seems to have given up. There are many wonderful moments, as when Gaynor, as the then pre-stardom "Esther Blodgett" tries to get the attention of movie big-whigs by her impressions of then popular stars Mae West, Katherine Hepburn, and Garbo. Andy Devine (that VOICE!!) is comical as the fledgling director who befriends the naive, broke, and new to Hollywood "Esther", and sticks with her through her metamorphosis to "Vicki Lester", and her tragedy and heartache. There's also fun scenes of early Hollywood locales, like the Hollywood Bowl, and interesting behind the scenes looks at the star-making process, when a little nobody is given everything from a new hairline to a new name. I always find myself blubbering like a fool at the films end, when Gaynor, having triumphantley come back from tragedy, delivers her final, famous line with a teary-eyed close-up. Yes, it's corny, but I'm crying not only because it's a tear-jerker, but also at the memory of all those beautiful fools of that long ago time, when there really was a place called HOLLYWOOD."
Best Print Yet
Bluebird | USA | 08/26/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having been in public domain for so long now, it seems everyone has put out a print of this movie on video. They are consistently poor quality issues. This DVD issue is not perfect by any means, but it far exceeds any others I've seen. If ever a film was in need of a full restoration this is it. A great movie about that land of hopes and dreams called Hollywood. Honest, realistic, touching, and tragic. Although Judy Garland's version is excellent this is the version that truly delivers. I won't even mention the Streisand remake."
A MOVIE ABOUT GRATITUDE
wdanthemanw | Geneva, Switzerland | 04/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review is about the Image release of William A. Wellman's A STAR IS BORN. No bonus, just a scene access, excellent sound and above average quality of the images.
William A. Wellman, the director of the film, earned a well-deserved Academy award in 1938 for his story whose themes were also handled in A Star Is Born and in A Star Is Born since. This movie is about the role and the impact of the images in Hollywood and about a feeling rarely treated, because not particularly expressive, in cinema : gratitude.
David O. Selznick, the producer of A STAR IS BORN, liked to take risks in his job and often worked with directors blessed by a strong artistic vision, like Alfred Hitchcock Spellbound - Criterion Collection, King Vidor Duel in the Sun or William Dieterle Portrait of Jennie. William A. Wellman could thus propose, at the beginning and at the end of the film, these famous shots of a screenplay describing what we will see or have just seen on the screen. Think about it : we're in 1937 and the French New Wave will appear more than 20 years later only !
When we watch A STAR IS BORN now, we are boggled by the quality of the dialogues of the film and the importance of the supporting roles. Lionel Stander, Andy Devine, May Robson or Adolphe Menjou have all important lines to say and are not just here to fill the screen between two apparitions of Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. Without them, there is simply no film at all.
A DVD for your library.