Thursday, November 22, 2018
Perfectly Posh goodies. I also got a card from a friend of my mom's, a woman whose kids I babysat back in the 1970s. I love getting love over the miles.
My gifts were so thoughtful -- and Kathleen made a point of telling me she had purchased them over the spring and summer, when she came upon them. The first was The Fifth Beatle, a graphic novel about manager Brian Epstein. The second was a collage made of tiny pieces of paper, each a tiny Beatles photo. It's intricate and quite lovely.
I ended the evening feeling quite special.
I've finally seen the original A Star Is Born (1937)! It was screened at my movie Meetup. Judged on its own, it was OK. But in the context of film history, and seeing the movie that launched the three remakes, was fascinating.
The original is not a musical. With the benefit of hindsight, that was a mistake. The following Stars to be Born (Judy, Babs and Lady Gaga) are all so immensely talented behind the mic that you know what the established star (James Mason, Kris Kristofferson or Bradley Cooper) sees in her. Judy wasn't a glamour girl, and Babs and Gaga are both unconventional in appearance, but dear God, they can sing!
Janet Gaynor is a charmer who can do cute imitations of established like Katharine Hepburn and Mae West at parties. But based on that, Fredric March decides she has what it takes? In this movie, he seems more motivated by wanting to help a pretty girl than believing in, and connecting with, her talent. Nevertheless, you do believe they enjoyed one another's company and could fall in love.
So I liked it better than the Streisand version. Not for a moment did I believe that Babs/Esther even liked her leading man, much less loved him. Her performance is all (as Mad magazine referred to her) "Bubby Strident." She's too self contained, too self focused. And corny! It's got real cringe-worthy moments. She sings lead with two black chicks in a trio called The Oreos. Really.
So I stand by my fearless October ranking. Gaynor = good. Gaga = great. Garland = GOLD! Next time you have an opportunity to see the 1954 verison, grab it. James Mason is very touching, too.