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A Star is Born (2018)

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I am not making this up.

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Clint Eastwood wiIl produce as well as direct the script by Will Fetters along with producers Billy Gerber and Jon Peters (who made the infamous 3rd version of A Star Is Born with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson). No male lead is cast yet, but the possibilities are endless. The project, which has been at WB for several years, had hoped to pair Beyoncé and Will Smith. But how about P Diddy (who's turning into a surprisingly fine actor along with Beyoncé's husband Jayz), Eddie Murphy (reteaming with Beyoncé after Dreamgirls), or any white guy imaginable though Robert Downey Jr and Jon Hamm are names that have been floating? Of course, Clint has had a huge interest in music on screen (remember him as a jazz DJ in Play Misty For Me?), directing Bird, doing all his own scores for his movies and even received an Avademy Award nomination for one of them. Then again, I'm one of thise huge fans who thinks Clint can do anything. And Beyoncé scored big at the box office in Sony/Screen Gems' Obsession. The idea is to start shooting in the Fall.

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WB courting Tom Cruise for 'A Star is Born'

With execs buzzing about his performance as an 80s rock star in Warner Bros. and New Line's upcoming musical "Rock of Ages," Tom Cruise finds himself being courted by WB to topline Clint Eastwood's "A Star is Born" along with Beyonce. . . .

While there haven't been any negotiations, let alone a deal, the studio has been talking to Cruise to gauge his interest in the project, a prospect that Cruise didn't immediately reject, given the chance to work with Eastwood for the first time.

It's unclear whether WB would be willing to accommodate Cruise's schedule, but should he pursue the project, he'd play an over-the-hill musician who falls for a young singer who he's trying to help make a star.

Over the past year, WB has eyed Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Leonardo DiCaprio for the plum part.

Variety, March 9, 1:09 PST

Is Tom Cruise Heading For Another Rock Star Turn In ‘A Star Is Born?’

EXCLUSIVE: Tom Cruise is talking to Clint Eastwood about joining Beyonce in A Star Is Born, the Warner Bros remake. This comes after Cruise morphed into an Axl Rose-like 80s rock icon in Rock of Ages, so he’d be able to handle the singing part of that comes with playing an over the hill musician who helps launch the star of an ingenue he falls in love with and who watches him slide while her star soars. . . .

Deadline.com, March 9, 4:09 EST

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This is a significantly worse idea now than it was in January, with the Oscar triumph of The Artist. One remake of A Star is Born per generation is enough. And the musical angle will make it seem like an opposite-sex Crazy Heart.

Edited by SDG

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Beyonce is out for the lead. Eastwood wants Esperanza Spalding to replace her, "though no discussions or offers will be made until the director nails down his male lead."

And there's this:

Screenwriter Will Fetters recently revealed to us that his script for the remake was heavily inspired by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, so Eastwood presumably has an interesting take on his hands.

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Whatever happened to Eastwood's project? Did it become the new Bradley Cooper film? Will Fetters has a screenwriting credit on it. Anyway, the Lady Gaga version is quite good, IMO.

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I'm pretty sure this is what became of Eastwood's project - I'm hoping to check it out tonight.

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Jon Peters has a producer credit on the new film, so yes, it would appear to have evolved from this Clint Eastwood project. (Bradley Cooper, of course, scored his biggest box-office hit ever by starring in Eastwood's American Sniper.) (American Sniper has since been surpassed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Avengers: Infinity War, but Cooper only does an animated character's voice in those films, so American Sniper remains the biggest box-office hit that showed us Cooper's face.)

I found this film pretty shallow, personally, and I thought Cooper's behaviour in the first half of the movie (which appears to cover a mere 24 hours or so) was kinda creepy in a way that the movie never really acknowledges (aside from Lady Gaga briefly, and non-seriously, telling one of Cooper's drivers that he's acting like a "stalker").

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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I cannot remember the last time I saw a film so meticulously crafted to win an Oscar, or several Oscars, as I expect this will. It's a passion/ego project of its star/director, it has just enough connection to current social movements such as #metoo and #timesup, without ever really challenging any status quo of the showbiz industry, there's a predictable and tragic ending which would have easily been avoidable with more believable screenwriting to give a sense of a profundity, it's edited to within an inch of its life to make sure every scene is a potential Oscar clip, and the cast are giving it their all in some pretty enjoyable performances that make me almost not care about any of the above. And Lady Gaga is a fantastic actress, and I will not begrudge her winning best actress, as she almost unquestionably will.

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On 10/5/2018 at 6:43 PM, Joel Mayward said:

Whatever happened to Eastwood's project? Did it become the new Bradley Cooper film? Will Fetters has a screenwriting credit on it. Anyway, the Lady Gaga version is quite good, IMO.

Cooper said in an interview, if I recall, that Eastwood approached him about doing before  American Sniper, but he felt he was too young at the time. 

Story here:

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“I was 38 when Clint brought it to my attention,” Cooper says. “It was a different character (from Maine, the Cooper version) but we talked about it and I just knew I was too young. I felt like I hadn’t lived enough. Deep down I knew I would’ve had to really act.” With a laugh, he adds: “A lot.”

So he told Eastwood no thanks, which hurt. “I mean, I’d put myself on (audition) tape for so many of his movies, from ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ to the priest in ‘Gran Torino’ to J. Edgar Hoover’s lover (in ‘J. Edgar.’) I thought: I can’t believe I’m sitting here saying I don’t think I can do this.” But then, after they did the cultural touchstone “American Sniper” and Cooper transitioned into a yearlong commitment to “The Elephant Man,” he felt ready.

“I just kept thinking about it,” Cooper says of the well-worn, endlessly adaptable “Star is Born” narrative. He’d been working toward directing for years, hanging around editing suites on everything from his short-lived run on the ABC-TV series “Alias” to his fruitful collaborations with David O. Russell. “I felt I always wanted to be a director, but I needed something I had my own point of view on. The structure (of the story) allowed me to investigate the themes and ideas I wanted to investigate.”

 

P.S. (I changed the thread title from 2012 to 2018.  

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There is a lot to commend this version, and it may do well in this year’s Oscar race… but I can’t quite put it in the “must-own” category.

Taking into account the positives (which there are many, including breakthrough performances from the two leads), the negatives I have are the following:

Lady Gaga’s performance is more a revelation that she could be “normal” than be other-worldly. The fact that she had played a charade of bizarre characters for so long, make us forget that she was a “normal person” before she stumbled upon her fast-track to fame. The performance works, and there’s moments of genuine emotion, but let’s not make this out to be a stretch as it is: it’s easier for her to play “normal” than for Meryl Streep to play Lady Gaga bizarre.

The songs, while passionately performed and not uninteresting, are forgettable. Perhaps my mistake is reading a biography of Prince and the making of Purple Rain around this time. Purple Rain is the inferior movie with the far-superior soundtrack. Audiences were humming songs on the way home from the theater, and there’s nary an ounce of fat on that landmark recording. Not so here. Good songs, but not memorable.

The ending didn’t feel true. Sorry, it didn’t. We live in an age where, while there have been notable celebrities who had gone the same route as that central character, those which had done so had different baggage than this lead thespian had. And those real-life actors who had the same baggage as this central character… some of them toughed it out, had a few years in career purgatory, and came out the other side all the more wiser and more brilliant. I’m thinking of Johnny Cash. I’m thinking of Robert Downey Jr. I’m thinking of Rob Lowe. Heck, even James (“Guardian of the Galaxy”) Gunn could very well be on the mend as I write. Hollywood is a fickle place, but it also loves comeback stories, for which this central character could have been… but only then, the drama would’ ve extended another half-hour, and it might have upset the entrenched formula (though I haven’t seen the earlier films).

So all in all, I give it a solid 3 out of four stars.

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1 hour ago, Nick Alexander said:

 

The ending didn’t feel true. Sorry, it didn’t.

 

I totally agree with this, actually. I mentioned somewhere (I think Letterboxd), that the disconnect I felt was not necessarily between the characters' actions and those or potential real-life counterparts but between their actions and what we have seen them do elsewhere in the film. I enjoyed and admired the first forty minutes of the film but thought the last hour and a half were a mess, as though the outcome was based on where the story had to go (because it was pre-written) rather than where it would/should go if *these* characters were making the decisions. As a result, we get very volatile changes in the relationship that are at odds with the communication and coping abilities implied by actions elsewhere in the film. It's not that relationships never change, sometimes drastically, but that this film doesn't really lay out a plausible and believable arc of change. 

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FWIW, I still find myself humming "Shallow" every so often. Regarding the second and third act direction, I wrote the following in my review:

Quote

Now, I’m a percussionist, a drummer–I had even planned on becoming a professional musician before my vocational calling shifted towards pastoral ministry. I pay careful attention to rhythm, the pacing and tempo of narrative shifts and swells. So please trust me when I say that the first act of A Star is Born has genuinely perfect tempo, hitting all the right emotional beats, culminating in Ally’s first on-stage performance with Jack. This moment is a marvelous scene, and one of the best I’ve seen this year. But the second and third acts are uneven and staccato, the pacing shifting suddenly after Ally and Jackson’s romance and musical partnership is established. It’s as if there are gaps in time and memory in the editing, like narrative blackouts. Where the first act takes place over the course of one enchanting evening, the remaining story skips and jumps through time like someone changing the radio station and starting a song partway through. It’s frustrating, even confusing at times, and it threatened to keep me emotionally disengaged. Yet I wonder if this is deliberate, if Cooper has edited the rhythm of the scenes around Ally and Jack’s relationship, especially Jackson’s spiral into addiction. When they’re apart or out of sync emotionally, the pacing is haphazard and distractingly off. But when they’re in harmony–both musically and relationally–well, it’s pure magic. As the pacing slows down to focus on Ally and Jackson together via long shots and close-ups, it’s richly affecting.

I also wonder about the film's exploration of artifice and image in the last act. The final performance of the film is, at-once, powerfully affecting and yet somehow inauthentic and strange. She is performing her grief, both for the audience within and outside the film. Now, I'm not saying that performing a song is an inherently inauthentic expression of grief, but I do think that ending is purposefully complex--maybe it doesn't feel true because Cooper & Gaga never intended it to feel wholly true. What I'm saying is that the off-putting pacing and the performances in that final act might be deliberately off-putting or disengaging, precisely as an exploration of stardom and celebrity itself. We are both attracted to and repulsed by it.

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14 hours ago, Evan C said:

I fleshed out my thoughts into a full review.

And once I thought of that first sentence, I could not resist beginning that way.

The first sentence is great. Overall, it's a very negative positive review (or is it a positive negative review?).

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30 minutes ago, Joel Mayward said:

The first sentence is great. Overall, it's a very negative positive review (or is it a positive negative review?).

I definitely meant it to be the former. I feel there are so many reasons I should hate this movie, but there are enough good elements that I can't, so I wanted to capture that conflict.

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It's back in theatres today with an extra 12 minutes of footage!!!

In other news, I watched all five versions of this story last week -- the 1932 film What Price Hollywood? and the 1937, 1954, 1976 and 2018 versions of A Star Is Born -- and I live-blogged my thoughts at Facebook, one film at a time, but I figured I'd jot a few cross-comparative notes down here.

First, a disclaimer: I had not seen any of these films prior to last week, except for the 2018 film, and it's possible that I missed some details, especially as I was busy writing my thoughts down. So consider this a first (or first-and-a-half) draft of sorts (though why there would ever be a second draft, I could not say).

Setting: The 1932 and 1937 films are firmly rooted in the movie world, and the 1976 and 2018 films are firmly rooted in the music world. The 1954 film is a transitional film, inasmuch as it is about a musician who gets drawn into the movie world and makes movie musicals.

Introductions: The 1932 and 1937 films begin with their female leads, who have ambitions to get into Hollywood; the two films even begin inside the *homes* of the female leads. The 1954, 1976 and 2018 films all begin with their male leads, in their performance spaces, and the female leads are introduced further and further away from those spaces: in the 1954 film, the female lead is revealed to be singing with a band at the same charity benefit the male lead is participating in; in the 1976 film, we first see the female lead when the male lead goes to a pub where she's performing; and in the 2018 film, the female lead is working in a restaurant and breaking up with a boyfriend over the phone (but at least the 2018 film introduces her before the title comes onscreen, so that the film is more clearly balanced as a story about the *two* lead characters).

Feminism: The female lead in the 1932 film is pretty spunky. The female lead in the 1937 film also has her moments, though she is also pretty naive at first. The female lead in the 1954 film is perhaps the "weakest" of the bunch (especially in the shorter version of the film, which deletes a subplot that showed her taking greater control of her life after her first encounter with the male lead), and the one most likely to be talked into doing things by the male characters; she even sings a song that talks about casting agents taking advantage of her ("So lock the doors / And call me yours / 'Cause you took advantage of me"). The female lead in the 1976 film gets off the stage in her first scene and assertively tells the male lead, "You're blowing my act," and she makes a point of flipping gendered assumptions on their head (at one point she sings a song about "the *woman* in the moon"; at another, she puts a fake eyebrow or something on the male lead while they're in the bathtub together, a scene that is explicitly homaged in the 2018 film; she also declares, when they get married, that it's "the dawn of a new century" so she won't promise to "obey" her husband); however, just before the male lead commits suicide, the female lead tells him, "I'll have breakfast waiting, like a good little wife." And in the 2018 film, it is the female lead, *not* the male lead, who almost gets into a fight with a "fan" at a bar. On the other hand, it was the female leads who proposed to the male leads in the 1954 and 1976 films -- partly out of emotional desperation in the 1954 film, less so in the 1976 film -- but in the 2018 film it is the male lead who proposes, and it becomes just the latest in a long string of scenes in which the female lead is swept off her feet by the male lead's obsession with her. (I can't recall who proposed or how in the 1937 film. The 1932 film is more complicated because the male lead is a movie director who mentors the female lead but does not marry her; instead, she marries a polo player, and there are some screwball-style power dynamics there.)

Emasculation: The 1932, 1937 and 1954 films all contain scenes in which the husband feels belittled when someone calls him "Mister (female lead's last name)". It's a deliberate slight in the 1932 film and an honest mistake in the other films, but the husbands don't like it, either way. Similarly, the male lead in the 1976 film doesn't appreciate it when someone phones the house and asks if he is the female lead's secretary. The male lead in the 2018 film is perhaps the only one who doesn't get into brawls or express any emasculation anxiety.

Identity: The female lead in the 1937 and 1954 films is named Esther Blodgett but takes the more marquee-friendly named "Vicky Lester/Lewis" when she becomes an actress; however, in the very last scene of both films, she publicly identifies as "Mrs. Norman Maine", thereby taking the name of her now-dead husband for the first time. The female lead in the 1976 film is named Esther Hoffman, presumably to reflect the actress's Jewish heritage, and she never changes it -- not to sound more Gentile, and not to sound more married. The female lead in the 2018 film is named Ally Campana, presumably to reflect the actress's Italian roots -- and while she performs publicly as one of those one-named singers (Ally, no last name), she never technically *changes* her name, presumably because it's just not an issue today the way it was in those earlier decades.

Profanity: In the 1932 film, the male lead is on the phone when he says "You don't give a *what*!?". In the 1954 film, the female lead is told by one of the studio staffers to "Go to L" -- because she has been given a new name that begins with the initial L -- and she, unaware that she has been given a new name, mishears what the guy says. The 1976 film has quite a bit of swearing, right from the opening titles (when we hear the male lead's manager swear at the crowd before the concert starts). The 2018 film would lose half of its dialogue if the f-word was taken out.

Addiction: The 1932 film came out during Prohibition (1920-1933), and it takes place over the course of a few years (though it couldn't start any earlier than 1927, since the characters are all working in talkies), so the male lead's alcoholism takes on a certain light there. The male leads of all the other films are alcoholic too, and the 1976 and 2018 films add cocaine to the mix, which reintroduces the concept of *illegal* substance addiction. (Plus, in the 2018 film, the male lead gets injections of some sort, but I don't know enough about pharmaceutical stuff to say what that is all about, e.g. whether it was medically necessary to any degree or purely, uh, elective and/or performance-enhancing.)

Sex: The female lead in the 1932 film makes a point of saying that it was a "novelty" when the male lead did *not* make a pass at her while he was drunk; this may be our clue as to why she decides to pursue her Hollywood dreams through *him*. The male lead in the 1954 film goes to a night club where the manager points out a handful of women that he could pair off with that night, but the male lead has various reasons for saying no (e.g. one of them is young and the male lead has already had a "young week", one of them hit him with a bottle and no one gets to hit him more than once, etc.); the female lead also uses the word "sex" when describing a musical that she is starring in; there's also a brief bit where the male lead pats the female lead's bum as though it was a drum, during a musical number that takes place after they are married. The 1976 film is the first film to feature nudity or premarital sex between the two leads, and it is also the only film of the bunch in which the female lead catches the male lead in bed with another woman; it is also, despite its feminism, the only film that gives us male-point-of-view shots of the lead actress's body (clothed or otherwise). The 2018 film may be unique in having the male lead initiate the first sexual encounter between the two leads while the female lead is still asleep; yes, they were making out in his hotel room shortly before he passed out, and she chose to sleep next to him in his bed after he passed out, but still, there are consent issues one might want to discuss here... (On a related note, the 1976 film is the only one in which the female lead is a divorcee when we first meet her, and the 2018 film introduces the female lead by having her break up with someone over the phone; I don't believe the first three films hinted at any sort of sexual, romantic or marital past for any of their female leads.) And of course, the nudity is a bit more overt, however fleeting, in the Lady Gaga-starring 2018 film than it was in the Barbra Streisand-starring 1976 film.

Weddings: The 1932 wedding takes place in a church filled and surrounded by obsessive fans. The 1937, 1954 and 1976 weddings are all done before justices of the peace, partly to get away from the fans. And the 2018 wedding takes place in a church again, but this time it's a church pastored by a cousin of a friend of the male lead's -- so there is nobody there but the male lead's friend and the friend's family.

Children: The female lead in the 1932 film turns out to be pregnant when her husband leaves her, and she has a son, who she is determined to keep when she thinks the scandal around her director's death might prompt her ex-husband to seek custody of their child. (In the end, her ex-husband asks to be reconciled.) Interestingly, I think the only other time the possibility of children ever comes up in these films is in the 1976 film, when the male lead is driving a motorbike recklessly around his ranch and the female lead asks (rhetorically, perhaps) how will she raise a baby if the male lead is dead.

Other family: The female lead in the 1937 film has stodgy older relatives who disapprove of her love of the movies -- but her grandmother gives her some money and tells her to go make her dreams come true, and then her grandmother reappears at the end of the film to give her the courage to keep on going after the male lead has died. I don't think we ever really learn anything about the families of the female leads in the 1954 and 1976 films, but we definitely see a fair bit of the female lead's dad (and his friends) in the 2018 film -- plus the 2018 film may be the only one that gives the *male* lead a family connection, via his older brother.

The West: In the 1937 film, the female lead's grandmother recalls how "some Injun devil put a bullet through" her husband, and she compares the female lead's dream of becoming a movie star to her own dream of "conquering the wilderness" many years ago. In the 1954 film, we see actors dressed up as cowboys and Indians at the charity benefit, and again in the movies being produced at the studio. But in the 1976 film, the male lead performs at a benefit for the American Indian Relief Organization, and he buys a ranch in one of the desert states and builds a house there (instead of building a house by the California beach, as the 1954 male lead did); when the two leads go out to the property and are about to make love on the ground, the female lead says she doesn't care about the dirt, and the male lead says, "That's the spirit that built the west." In the 2018 film, the male lead says he grew up on a ranch and bought it and gave it to his brother, and he is pissed off when he learns that his brother sold the ranch and it has now been turned into a wind farm -- but there is no reference, at least not that I can recall, to the traditional notions of the west being conquered or built, etc.

Race: The 1932 film features black servants who provide a bit of comic relief, such as it is. I can't recall if there were any black characters in the 1937 film. One of the movie musical numbers in the 1954 film features a couple of tap-dancing black kids (while another number features the female lead singing 'Swanee River' but *not* in blackface the way Al Jolson and others used to do). The 1976 film begins by showing us that the male lead's audience -- and his would-be groupies -- are ever-so-slightly racially integrated, and the female lead is first seen as part of a group called The Oreos, presumably because the female lead is a white woman whose singing partners on either side of her are black; the female justice of the peace who marries the leads is black, too. In the 2018 film, the leads are married in a black church, the pastor of which is cousin to one of the male lead's friends.

Employment: The 1932 film begins with the female lead working as a waitress. In the 1937 film, the female lead takes a gig serving food at a Hollywood higher-ups' party to help make ends meet (and also to introduce herself to some movie-industry people), but I don't think she was working full-time in the food-services industry. In the 1954 film, the female lead is already in showbiz when the movie starts, as a singer with a jazz band -- but after meeting the male lead, she quits the band to pursue a career in Hollywood, and in the *restored* version of the film, she briefly works as a waitress at a drive-in diner to help make ends meet. There is no waitressing in the 1976 film, though the female lead there does take gigs recording commercial jingles, just like the female lead in the 1954 film did. The female lead in the 2018 film is the first one since 1932 who is working as a waitress when we first meet her, but she also has some showbiz aspirations; she sings at a drag bar -- possibly just for fun, not for pay -- and in later dialogue, she tells the male lead that music producers have told her she can't be a pop star because of her nose, so she has apparently done *some* looking into her options showbiz-wise.

Appearance: The 1937 and 1954 films both feature scenes in which movie-studio makeup artists try to give the female lead a makeover; both films even include a line about giving her the "Crawford smear". The female lead in the 1976 film does a double-take when someone comments on the frizziness of her hair. The female lead in the 2018 film says she was told she couldn't be a star because of her nose, and she eventually hooks up with a business manager who talks about creating an "image" for her, which the male lead doesn't react to well.

Journalists: In the 1932 film, the gossip columns say the male lead "stole" the female lead from her job at the Brown Derby, but we know that she was the assertive one in that relationship. The 1937 and 1954 films lean more into the way that studios themselves tell lies for publicity's sake, and in both films the studio publicists are happy to give the male lead a verbal tongue-lashing once he has been let go by the studio; however, after the male lead dies, the publicists go right back to issuing positive-sounding statements about the male lead. The 1976 film features a hostile DJ who flies his helicopter right over the male lead's house, prompting the male lead to fire a gun in his general direction, but after the male lead dies, the DJ claims on-air that the male lead was like a "brother" to him; the male lead also has an affair with a journalist who shows up naked in his swimming pool and offers to sleep with him in order to get an interview with the female lead. I can't recall if there were any journalists in the 2018 film.

Fans: The bridal procession in the 1932 film turns kind of horrific as the fans claw at the bride, and women's clubs ban her films after her director commits suicide at her house. In the 1954 film, the fans mob the female lead at her husband's *funeral*. The 1976 film begins by showing us a really chaotic audience (a toddler wanders unaccompanied through one crowd shot), impatient for the male lead to show up and sing; later, a rather toxic "fan" sees the male lead at a bar and demands that he get up on the stage (where the female lead is already performing) and sing for them. The 2018 film is much nicer to the fans -- everybody at the drag bar is, like, really really happy to see the male lead there, and it is implied that the concert in the closing scene is some sort of memorial for the male lead -- but it does include a scene where a guy asks to take a picture with the male lead because his ex-girlfriend slept with a guy who supposedly *looked* like the male lead, and the "fan" wants to prove that the male lead doesn't look like the guy. 

Awards: The female lead in the 1932 film wins an Oscar offscreen. The 1937 and 1954 films both feature scenes at the Oscars where the female lead wins an award and her husband shows up drunk, verbally slams the industry for abandoning him, and slaps the female lead's face. The 1976 changes this to a scene at the Grammys, where the female lead is knocked down accidentally and a hostile DJ accuses the male lead of attacking the female lead. And in the 2018 film, the male lead doesn't express any hostility to anyone -- there is none of the jealousy or contempt that the male leads of earlier films expressed; instead, he just embarrasses himself -- and he pisses his pants, because body fluids are what we do in our movies now. (Incidentally, the 1937 film explicitly identifies the Oscars in question as the *8th* awards ceremony, which took place in 1936. And the male lead is played by Fredric March, so when he says he's already won an Oscar, it was actually true in March's case -- he won for 1931's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and he went on to win again for 1946's The Best Years of Our Lives. The female lead, meanwhile, was played by Janet Gaynor, who was the very first woman to win an Oscar in 1928, for her roles in 7th Heaven, Street Angel and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. The 1976 and 2018 films starred Barbra Streisand and Lady Gaga, respectively, both of whom had already won Grammys -- Streisand had even won an Oscar several years earlier -- and both actresses went on to win even *more* Grammys and Oscars for songs that they wrote for their versions of A Star Is Born.)

Sanitariums: The 1937 and 1954 films feature scenes in which the male lead stays at a sanitarium and is followed around by a handler named "Cuddles"; the male lead is visited there by the studio chief, who tries to offer him a comeback role. The 2018 film features a sequence in which the male lead has checked into rehab, and he is visited by the female lead, who has discovered a notebook with songs that he has written.

Suicide: The male lead in the 1932 film shoots himself in the chest while he is staying at the female lead's house. The male leads in the 1937 and 1954 films go for a swim with the intention of drowning. The male lead in the 1976 film drives super-fast through the desert while drinking booze. And the male lead in the 2018 film hangs himself in his garage. The first and last deaths are pretty obviously suicides, but the three deaths in the middle are at least *potentially* accidental, and are reported as such by the media in at least one or two of those films. (In the 1932 film, the male lead says he wants to hear the female lead's voice one more time, shortly before he finds her gun and kills himself; and in all of the other films, the male lead says he wants to look at the female lead one more time, which is usually -- maybe always? -- a callback to an earlier scene where the male leads and female leads were first falling for each other.)

Endings: The 1932 film ends with the female lead's ex-husband, who once denounced the movie industry as "vulgar", bringing her a message from her producer, telling her she can have a comeback role playing a woman who goes to jail for the man she loves; the ex-husband also asks to be reconciled to her. The 1937 film ends with the female lead going to a premiere and identifying herself, to a radio microphone, as "Mrs Norman Maine". The 1954 film also has the female lead identifying herself by her married name, but this time she does it to a crowded theatre at a charity benefit, and the camera pulls back to reveal everyone applauding her, which sounds supportive but has the odd effect of diminishing the female lead visually. The 1976 film ends with the female lead singing a song about herself that she discovered on one of the male lead's demo tapes after he died, and most (if not all?) of the sequence is shot in close-up. The 2018 film ends with the female lead singing a song about herself that the male lead had actually sung to her when he wrote it -- and the film even interrupts her rendition of the song to give us a flashback to him singing it to her, after which she kisses him because she has been swept off her feet again by his intense interest in her -- and then the film cuts to a brief close-up of the female lead's face as she looks directly into the camera.

Other odd bits: The 1932 film begins with music playing over an opening montage, and then we see the female lead walk around in her apartment and turn off the phonograph, at which point the music stops. So the seemingly non-diegetic music turns into diegetic music -- which is almost exactly identical to how Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut began 67 years later. The 1937 film begins and ends with the first and last pages of the screenplay, which is kinda meta. And both the shortest (1932) and longest (1954) versions of this story were directed by George Cukor.

Whew. I think that about covers it for now.

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