Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Star Is Born (1976)

Year 2, Day 15 - 1/15/10 - Movie #380

BEFORE: "The Rose" had a scene with a drag queen dressed like Barbra Streisand - so let's follow that with the real deal. This will be the last fame-oriented movie about musicians, then I'll move on to other types of famous people...

THE PLOT: A has-been rock star falls in love with a young, up-and-coming songstress.

AFTER: Today's self-indulgent stars could watch this movie and learn a lot...about how to be more self-indulgent.

I've never really cared for the music of either Streisand or Kris Kristofferson, but the songs in this movie were written by Rupert Holmes, Leon Russell, Kenny Loggins and Paul Williams, so they're at least a reflection of 70's rock/pop. Kristofferson plays John Norman Howard, front man for the band Speedway, at least when he manages to show up for their concerts. Most of the time he seems like he'd rather be anywhere else, drinking or driving very fast, or both.

But in a sleazy nightclub he sees a sleazy nightclub act, with Esther Hoffman (Streisand) and 2 black back-up singers, collectively known as the Oreos (I guess this was progressive thinking in the 70's) and after causing a barfight, he rescues Hoffman from her world and takes her into his.

He produces her record, and she introduces him to feminism, at least a watered-down version of it, and they head off to his ranch in the middle of Nowhere, AZ, building a tiny ranch house with a bulldozer in 2 days with the help of a montage, but eventually realize that their musical styles are not alike at all. They keep saying they're going to record a duet and go out on tour together, but they never seem to get around to it. So while her career is taking off, with Grammy nominations and media attention, he's sinking deeper into the bottle and a case of songwriter's block.

I don't know if this one has held up over the years - I remember it being popular, at least enough to warrant a Mad magazine parody - but now I think it just stands as the answer to the trivia question "What was the only film to star both Barbra Streisand AND Gary Busey?"

RATING: 4 out of 10 amplifiers

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