A Star Is Born is a tale as old as Hollywood itself, and every generation laps up a new version. A devastating fable about the high price of fame, the story offers romance, melodrama, and the chance to see one of the biggest musical stars of the day pretending to be an undiscovered nobody.
A Star Is Born is now in its fourth incarnation, with Bradley Cooper playing a rock star at the peak of his powers, who shares the spotlight and his bed, with Lady Gaga, as the soon-to-be-star.
The tale began in 1937 with Janet Gaynor as aspiring actress Esther Blodgett and Fredric March as fading movie star Norman Maine, who helps launch Esther’s career. In 1954 the story was reborn (pun intended) as a musical, with Judy Garland as the jazz singing ingénue and James Mason as Maine. And then Barbra Streisand brought it back in 1976, directing her incarnation of Esther, with Kris Kristofferson as the stadium rock star who discovers her in a tacky nightclub revue.
Cooper's directorial debut references elements of all three versions that have gone before, whilst still being its own rumination on the pitfalls of fame, but it's Streisand's version that shares a similar aesthetic.
Streisand reportedly approached Elvis Presley for the role of the substance abusing star, but The King had clearly had enough of his time in the movie biz, and opted against taking up the role. So it fell to Kris Kristofferson, to make the renamed 'John Norman Howard' his own. The soundtrack album shot to no. 1 on the Billboard charts and stayed there for six weeks; the iconic 'Evergreen' single went to no. 1 for three weeks, and went on to win the Best Song Oscar for Paul Williams and Streisand, as well as Grammys for Song of the Year and Female Pop Vocal Performance.
And you can see it for yourself, in the special event screening of Streisand's A Star Is Born, which premieres on SBS VICELAND on Sunday October 28 at 8.30pm.
Please note this is a TV screening only; unfortunately A Star Is Born will not be available at SBS On Demand after broadcast.
LISTEN: SBS' The Playlist movies & TV podcast reviews 'A Star Is Born'