1976; Rated R; 139 Minutes
Barbra Streisand: Esther Hoffman
Kris Kristofferson: John Norman Howard
Gary Busey: Bobbie Ritchie
Oliver Clark: Gary Danziger
Marta Heflin: Quentin
M. G. Kelly: Bebe Jesus
Produced by Jon Peters
and Barbra Streisand; Directed by Frank Pierson;
Screenwritten by Robert Carson, Joan Didion, John
Gregory Dunn, Frank Pierson and William A. Wellman
by DAVID KEYES
to life-pleasing elements in early life sets up your tastes
and fetishes for the future. Early life is the cycleís first
chance to develop your personal interests and talents, as
is the second stage of your life is to experience them for
the first time. If you have had that special talent or urge
like playing an instrument, itís usually around your early-to-middle
teens before they finally unleash themselves and influence
your decisions for the future.
would not be here reviewing movies right now if it were
not for the influence of seeing great movies in my early
childhood. Aside from the childrenís classics, like "Bambi"
and "Sleeping Beauty," "A Star Is Born" was the first masterpiece
I had been exposed to, and, perhaps, it is to blame for
my love of film criticism.
hearing that I saw the 1976 remake of "A Star Is Born" in
my early childhood may brew up some mischief, since the
film is rated faithfully "R." In order for you to understand
the reasons, I must first shed some light on my background.
Growing up in a household filled with exceptionally lewd
language (mainly from my father) would seem like a picnic
compared to the words Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson
say in this picture. Not only did their bravery of saying
those things in front of everybody impress me, but so did
the vision and style of the picture, which, as I so sadly
learned later on in my life, was closely related to the
images of famous rock stars, like Janis Joplin and Jimi
Hendrix, who took drugs galore just as their careers reached
their peaks, all eventually leading to their deaths.
the stoned-up rock star is John Norman Howard, and he is
played by Kristofferson in a vibrant, savage, and unruly
treatment of his characteristics of that time period. He
does a concert, loads up with cocaine, forgets the words,
walks off the stage, and into his limousine. The driver
asks him "where to?," and he replies, "back about ten years."
when the drugs take over his life, he encounters a singer
in a lounge named Esther Hoffman, played by Barbra Streisand,
who he sees as tomorrowís rising star. In the middle of
a show, he interrupts the music to introduce her to the
world, and just as her career takes off, his crumbles severely.
scene in particular pursues his downfall. After being injured
from driving a motorcycle into the audience of a concert,
he kicks back in his pool, unaware that, at the time, a
chopper swirls overhead, with an obsessed radio personality
inside. Howard takes out his gun and shoots the chopper
away, all later to meet up with him again right there at
the radio station, ready to apologize for his actions.
may seem like the movie is Kristoffersonís, but the show
belongs to Streisand (as usual). Her voice, her characterizations
play almost exact to those of her real life persona, and
itís no wonder why the interviews and performances in the
movie are actually segments of actual footage of Streisand.
From describing the ways she records music to the ways she
sings in outdoor arenas, Esther Hoffman IS Barbra Streisand,
and Streisand IS Esther Hoffman. It was as if the role was
made for her.
would be considerably hard, since the movie is actually
a remake. Oh yes, two, great visions have come before this
one, and for their time, they also demonstrated the popularity
and the misfortune of famous stars, be they in Hollywood
or on stage.
1950s version portrayed James Masonís character as an alcoholic
actor who lost his career and reason to act because of his
wife, the rising star of Hollywood, played by Judy Garland.
I have no doubt that Streisand had wanted this role for
herself, since it followed in the footsteps of one of her
greatest influences in life.
sounds uncanny, but it isnít. Judyís character, as stated
by some Hollywood legends, WAS Judy Garland, and that may
be how the screenwriters of the 1976 remake felt when they
wrote the script and fit the star role with the persona
of Streisandís characteristics. Whether or not they wrote
the script or cast the characters first is up in the air,
as far as I know.
Streisandís movie, and Streisandís character. Need I say
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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