A true masterpiece
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 04/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A Star Is Born packs a great deal of action, suspense, drama and even some light comedy into a film that is truly remarkable. The acting is very convincing; Fredric March in particular gives blood to make his character comes to life on the screen. The cinematography and the choreography both work well, especially in crowd scenes in which there are lots of extras. The plot moves along at a good pace, too.
When the action starts, we quickly meet Esther Blodgett (Janet Gaynor) who comes home with her younger brother from going to the movies. Esther's mother and father are not too happy about her fixation with Hollywood. However, Esther's kindly and wise grandmother Lettie Blodgett (May Robson) encourages Esther to follow her heart and her dreams although she also warns Esther that there may be a painful price for stardom. Lettie then gives Esther the first of several sums of money to help Esther live in Los Angeles at least until she can find extra work.
But much more happens. Esther meets and soon befriends assistant director Daniel "Danny" McGuire (Andy Devine) who wants to help Esther find work but he's not too powerful--or employed--himself. One night Danny and Esther attend a concert at The Hollywood Bowl; and Esther sees Norman Maine (Fredric March) in person for the first time. He's quite drunk and embarrassing to his actress girlfriend Anita Regis (Elizabeth Jenns); but not much happens between Norman and Esther until she gets a waitress gig through Danny where Norman and the fat cats from the movie studio are socializing. Norman falls for Esther; and he pushes movie producer Oliver Niles (Adolph Menjou) to do a screen test with him and Esther. Esther is a huge hit; and this certainly complicates things as Norman's drinking is interfering with his acting career.
Finally, Esther and Norman are married--but the moment they return from their honeymoon Oliver and studio press agent Libby (Lionel Stander) arrive at their new home to tell Norman he's washed up and that all they really want is Esther. They try one more film with Norman just to be sure; but that fails as Esther becomes even more popular with the public.
Soon Norman is at home and although it seems remarkable people no longer recognize him at all. You'd think at least a few people would after the long career he had; but then again this is a movie making a point about the pitfalls of Hollywood. Norman even enters a sanitarium to try to combat his alcoholism.
What happens after this? Will Esther and Norman be able to handle this stress or will their marriage break apart? Will Norman ever find acting work again? What about Esther's idea to get Norman a part in a movie produced by Oliver Niles--will that come to pass? No plot spoilers here, folks--watch the movie and find out!
A Star Is Born has been made more than once; it fact, there are three versions of this movie. This version has excellent acting; but if you like musicals then you owe it to yourself to get the 1954 version with Judy Garland and James Mason. As regards this version, I commend the actors for their outstanding acting. I highly recommend this for fans of the actors in this movie and people who like classic movies. In addition, this film is a must-have for persons who wish to study the tough realities of the motion picture industry.