For years I've been a big fan of A Star Is Born
1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason. I've long gone on about how Judy deserved the Oscar for her performance as Vicki Lester. I'm usually a fan of the original movies and never the remake. However I thought this must be one of the exceptions to the rule, that the remake was better than the original.
What could beat Judy Garland at her best, looking like she was really enjoying a movie role that was made for her with James Mason wonderful as the alcoholic Norman Maine.
Curiosity got the better of me, so I watched the 1937 version with Janet Gaynor and Frederick March. Now I'm torn.
Although Judy gives a bravura performance, Janet brings such sweetness, the talkie version of her silent screen self, she shows such metal too. Judy is sweet but with a higher volume. It is harder to see why the public would take Janet to their hearts as she has the quieter personality but she is a change from the normal type this is the stated reason, Judy springs out of the screen making her acceptance as a star more obvious.
Frederick March and James Mason are two wonderful actors. It's hard for me to believe at first sight that Frederick March is washed up, even though he acts it, he's young, attractive and charismatic but plays a good drunk. James Mason is just that bit older to make it more believeable. Both are good in the role. I think it must have been difficult for James Mason to make his mark in the role, Judy had her singing to distinguish her, James Mason had to be content with his lines but he managed, his Norman is different enough from the original.
The films are bascially the same apart from how Norman and Vicki meet up. In both films I love the look of Hollywood behind the scenes. the original does this a little better, I got more of a feel for the screen test and the Hollywood procedure. Both films are a little painful to watch in parts. I was hoping that the 1937 film didn't end up the same way, even though it would make for a worse film, I love happy endings.
One scene that really struck me in the 1937 version was the honeymoon in the caravan. How dangerous is it to be frying food in a caravan that is being towed along a country road? That's said everything about the honeymoon was incredibly sweet, it made them very human, it's just the Hollywood process around them that is false.
Both films have drunken men driving cars, just shows how times have changed.
Does anyone know who's house that was that Janet and Frederick go to live in? It's stunning, that's the kind of house I would like when my lottery numbers come up
Lastly, I believe this film was remade again with Barbra Streisand, I'm not a fan so my curiosity won't kill me with this one but how do they transpose the romantic kid come to Hollywood story to the 1970's?
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin