A STAR IS BORN —-Hollywood Giveth, and Hollywood Taketh Away, in the first of three versions (so far) of selfless, rising star ‘Esther Blodgett’ (Janet Gaynor) and self-lost, falling star ‘Norman Maine’ (Fredric March).
Glossy production values, courtesy of David O.Selznick, with some peachy-keen views into 30s moviemaking, backed by a syrupy Max Steiner score. Gaynor is fine as the hopeful actress, but it’s the excellent work from March as her alcoholic counterpart that will keep you watching. While the 1937 trappings have dated, his acting holds up remarkably well, almost as good as James Mason’s bravura 1954 turn, and far superior to Kris Kristofferson’s 1976 shot.
Directed by William A. Wellman, with some of the scripting via Dorothy Parker, the 111 minute sudser was awarded Oscars for Story and a ‘special’ one for its color cinematography. It was nominated for Best Picture, Actor (March), Actress (Gaynor), Director, Screenplay and Assistant Director. As for receipts, Its $4,400,000 take tallied 30th for the year. Others in the cast are Adolph Menjou, Lionel Stander, Andy Devine, May Robson, Owen Moore, Franklin Pangborn, Edgar Kennedy and Guinn Williams.