Before Garland, before Streisand, before Lady Gaga, there was Janet Gaynor—the original “Star” of a STAR IS BORN. Directed by the legendary William Wellman (BABY FACE, THE PUBLIC ENEMY, LADY OF BURLESQUE), the 1937 version of A STAR IS BORN starring the first actress to win an Oscar—Janet Gaynor—is a marvel of storytelling. While the Garland version is more recognized, the original far surpasses it in its nuance and delicacy; style and substance; haute Deco fashions and glitz. Nominated for 7 Academy Awards—winning for Best Screenplay and a Special Technical Award for its pioneering use of early Technicolor—A STAR IS BORN is a cornerstone of 1930s filmmaking, one that demonstrated the greatness of Hollywood’s famed “Golden Age.”
Esther Blodgett (Janet Gaynor) arrives to Hollywood from her North Dakota farm seeking stardom, only to realize that thousands of other girls had the same idea. Broke and having no luck, she takes a job as a waitress. While serving hors d’oeuvres at glitzy party, Esther encounters Hollywood’s once leading, now fading actor, Norman Maine (Fredric March), who convinces his producer to offer her a screen test. After impressing studio brass, Esther’s name is changed to Vicki Lester and she’s catapulted to stardom. Their marriage ensues on the condition that he give up his rampant alcoholism—a promise that the stresses of fame and fortune make impossible to keep.
Thought to be based on the real-life marriage of Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Fay, A STAR IS BORN exemplifies the real-life tragedies that only Hollywood could produce.
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