Tag Archives: Frank Pierson

A Star is Born (1976)

<strong class="MovieTitle">A Star is Born</strong> (1976)

(On Cable TV, December 2018) I’m probably more bullish on the 1976 version of A Star is Born than most people, or even more than I should be. Oh, I can see the issues with the film—it doesn’t take a look at this tell-all article by the film’s own director Frank Pierson to realize the issues with the movie, whose unleashed self-worship of Barbra Streisand leads to an unbalanced whole. The good thing about Streisand (and then-husband producer Jon Peters)’s unbounded egocentrism is that the main female role is incredibly strong—and with Streisand being Streisand, it means that the vocal performance is as top-notch as the acting. (Alas, in a repeat of the 1954 version, her musical numbers drag on far longer than they should, overpowering the drama and cutting off the film’s energy at regular intervals.) Compared to her, you can see Kris Kristofferson’s role being kept in check by the producer’s need to showcase Barbra at every step. And yet, amazingly enough, he carries much of the film: his performance as an over-the-hill rocker is heartfelt, plunging us in the world of rock music and giving us a perfectly serviceable alternative to the Hollywood focus of previous versions. Being a film nerd, I do miss the movie-centric nature of the previous two movies—but the life of a rock star is exhilarating enough in its excesses that I don’t mind all that much. When you watch all versions of A Star is Born in rapid succession, the period feel of each instalment can become its own attraction, and so the trip back to 1970s music star mansion, big outdoor concerts and radio station appearances is quite a bit of fun. It all amounts to a flawed production, but one that remains fascinating in its own right.