Stream ‘A Star is Born’

(Above: Fredric March and Janet Gaynor in ‘A Star is Born’)

A Star is Born opens in theaters this week, but you can stream three previous versions of the title!

The fashions and music change from film to film, but the plot stays fairly consistent: a boozing star past his prime helps an aspiring female entertainer, they fall in love, and she eventually becomes much more famous than him.

1937: Janet Gaynor/Fredric March

Every version of A Star is Born has been based on an original story by William Wellman and Robert Carson. The two writers were only eligible for an Oscar the first time around, though — and won it.  W. Howard Greene received an honorary Oscar for color photography, and the film garnered several other nominations, including Wellman for best director, the film for best picture, March for best actor, and Gaynor for best actress.

The Gaynor/March version of A Star is Born is in the public domain, so you can start your binge of A Star is Born right here, for free:

1954: Judy Garland/James Mason

Garland — whose own career had been sidetracked by drug addiction and depression — might have been better typecast as the star on the way down, but she made a major movie comeback by playing a rising singer in this first musical version of the story. Both she and Mason received Oscar nominations, and they both won Golden Globes. The legendary George Cukor directed.

The Garland/Mason version of A Star is Born is available on only one subscription service, Filmstruck, where you can also see the 1937 version. If you’re not a Filmstruck subscriber, you can rent it starting at $2.99 from YouTube, Amazon or other providers.

1976: Barbra Streisand/Kris Kristofferson

Streisand wanted Elvis Presley to play the role of a major rock star falling from grace(land?), but the plot apparently cut too close to home for either Elvis or his manager Colonel Parker. For that and other reasons, the part went to Kristofferson.

The film won five Golden Globes — including best picture, best actor and best actress in the comedy/musical category. But this version’s biggest winner was undoubtedly the song “Evergreen,” written by Streisand and Paul Williams, which won an Oscar, a Globe and a Grammy.

The Streisand/Kristofferson version of A Star is Born is available starting at $2.99 from YouTubeAmazon or other providers.

2018: Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper

Not much to say here, except that Cooper also directed and co-wrote the latest adaptation. If you can stream this version, don’t! It’s illegal! Instead, see it on the big screen. According to advance reviews, it will be worth the price.

About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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