Yesterday, for the first time ever, I watched the 1976 version of A Star is Born, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. This was also the first version of the four versions of A Star is Born that I have seen. The original was made in 1937 and an updated version starring Judy Garland was made in 1954. I haven’t seen either of the earlier movies yet, but maybe I’ll watch them after I see Lady Gaga’s 2018 version.
I don’t actually care about Lady Gaga that much, but I keep hearing about how great this film is. And since I have a lot of time on my hands, I figure I might as well see it. It’s got to be better than Streisand’s version, which I found to be really dull. I was surprised by that, since I’ve heard so much about the 1976 version of A Star is Born. I know it won awards, although I was a wee child when the awards were given.
In Streisand’s version of A Star is Born, we have Kris Kristofferson playing John Norman Howard, a fading rock star who drinks too much, shows up late for concerts, can’t remember his lyrics, and makes a complete ass of himself. Streisand plays up and coming singer-songwriter Esther Hoffman, who sings lead in a band called The Oreos (because the other two singers are black). One night, Howard shows up while she’s performing and causes a ruckus. Even though he’s ruined her show, they leave the club together. He comes over the next morning for biscuits.
Hoffman is clearly very talented and on her way up the fame ladder, while Howard’s career is on the decline. Nevertheless, he gives her a boost, and pretty soon, she’s outperforming him. Barbra Streisand, as we all know, is renowned for her singing. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of her voice, although I recognize that it’s a remarkable and powerful instrument. There are other singers I’d rather listen to… I guess, to me, Streisand’s voice lacks warmth or something. She’s in stellar voice on the soundtrack for this film, which includes her big hit, “Evergreen”. Still, just as I like Bette Midler more as an actress, I kind of feel the same way about Babs.
One thing I noticed as I watched this movie is that Kristofferson and Streisand don’t seem to have very much chemistry. I didn’t believe it when they paired up as a couple, and I didn’t enjoy watching them together. Because of that, I didn’t find this film, which ran for well over two hours, very interesting. I kept wondering when it was going to end. I actually think Barbra Streisand had a lot more chemistry with Nick Nolte in The Prince of Tides. Or maybe Nolte is just a much better actor than Kristofferson is.
It’s not the worst or most boring movie I’ve seen. I think one of the worst movies I ever sat through was The Natural, starring Robert Redford. But… the reason I didn’t like that movie was because I was 12 or 13 years old when I saw it in the movie theater with my parents. It was about baseball and, I guess, was just over my head at the time. If I watched it today, I might not dislike it as much as I did then. I kind of feel the same way about Gandhi and Out of Africa, other movies I was forced to watch as a kid and didn’t like. Maybe I’ll watch them again, now that I’m older.
Having seen A Star is Born starring Streisand, I kind of wonder if maybe I would have liked that film more when I was younger. The musical numbers are interesting, and music has always been a good hook for my interest, particularly when it comes to movies. Kris Kristofferson was handsome and is, in his own right, a great musician and songwriter. I didn’t find his singing particularly good in A Star is Born, but maybe that was by design. He was supposed to be in decline. I actually found his singing kind of cringeworthy, especially when he harmonized with Streisand, whose vocals are so different and, frankly, far superior. I didn’t think they made beautiful music together, literally or figuratively.
Another thing that annoyed me about this movie is Streisand’s hair. I don’t know why. I guess it was because in the 70s, perms were all the rage. I used to get them myself when I was a teenager. I’ve evolved since then. Curiously, I liked some of the 70s era clothes Barbra Streisand wore in A Star is Born.
Anyway, my curiosity about this film is now satisfied. I can now go forth with my life.