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A Star is Born


It all comes down to the music in the 1976 remake of A STAR IS BORN starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.

This was one of Barbra's first efforts as producer/actress and she and then boyfriend (and hairdresser) Jon Peters throw it all at the screen in telling the story of a rising star and a falling star in love.

Kristofferson oozes rock star charisma as John Norman Howard, hitmaker, alcoholic and wildman. After a drunken, angry concert one night, he stumbles into a local bar and sees Esther Hoffman (Streisand) and immediately falls for her.

They soon become a couple and as he fosters her career, she rises quickly to stardom, while he descends deeper into his self destructive addictions.

It was surprising to me how good these two are together in the film and they have real chemistry. Kristofferson is much better than I remembered him being in the role and brings real authenticity (and some real upper range straining) to the concert scenes.

There are some pretty goofy, dated scenes but after nearly 40 years, the film holds up better than expected, especially during the songs.

Streisand is a huge movie star for a reason and when her Esther is on stage singing her first surprise concert, in the studio singing huge hit EVERGREEN or in the film's final moments, she takes the movie to another level.

About 25 minutes into the film, Esther and John helicopter into a massive outdoor concert, which was staged at ASU Sun Devil Stadium, providing some surreal moments of seeing the stadium in it's mid seventies form. My brother Mark actually attended the all-day concert that was staged starring Peter Frampton, Santana and Montrose and gathering the crowd you see in the film. Phoenix natives will also see plenty of scenes shot at Gammage and at the old Ramada Inn down on Van Buren. Look for a young Gary Busey as John's road manager.

Film sound trivia buffs: this 1976 film was the very first to be in Dolby Surround sound, before this movie there were never separate tracks behind the viewer. In the new Anniversary edition BLU RAY with DTS master audio, the songs sound better than ever.

A STAR IS BORN is definitely a vanity vehicle for Streisand, but when she takes center stage, she makes the film sing to a very enjoyable A-.

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