A Star Is Born

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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"Hello, everybody. This is Mrs. Norman Maine."
Vicki Lester, delivering the first two versions' classic last line.

A film story so remembered they made it four times.

A Star Is Born was first made in 1937, co-written and directed by William A. Wellman and staring Frederic March and Janet Gaynor. The second time was in 1954, directed by George Cukor and starring Judy Garland and James Mason. The third time, it was in 1976, and Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson starred and Frank Pierson directed.

In all three versions, a young starlet named Esther Blodgett[1] meets has-been star Norman Maine.[2] He helps her get a career in show business, under the name "Vicki Lester." Just as importantly, the two fall in love and get married. However, Norman's dependency on the bottle gets in the way of their marriage, leading to tragedy and despair.

A fourth version was released in 2018, starring Stefani Germanotta and Bradley Cooper.

Tropes used in A Star Is Born include:
  • Academy Award: In the first two versions, Vicki wins an Oscar. This leads to a memorable drunken disruption by Norman:

"I want a statue for the Worst Performance of the year!"

  • Award Bait Song: The remakes had "The Man Who Got Away" and "Evergreen" nominated for the Best Song Oscar; the latter was the one that won.
  • Driven to Suicide: Norman.
  • Forgotten Trope: The 1954 film had a specimen of the ballet sequence on film in the "Born in a trunk" sequence.
  • Groupie Brigade
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Norman's implied main motivation for his suicide, after he overhears Esther/Vicki say that she is willing to give up her career to help him.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Do you mind if I take just one more look?"
  • Oscar Bait
  • Pretty in Mink: Vicki wears an ermine wrap, worn like a dress, at the end of the first film.
  • Pygmalion Plot
  • Real Name as an Alias: Vicki and Norman get married under their real names to avoid public attention; they even fool the priest.
  • Setting Update: The 1976 film, unlike the first two versions, specifically had Esther break-in to the music industry. A Grammy award replaces the Oscar.
  • Stage Names: In the 1937 film, the studio gets "Vicki" from Esther’s middle name, Victoria, and "Lester" rhymes with Esther. How they got Norman Maine from Alfred Hinkle is never explained, though.
  • Title Drop: In the 1937 film, when Norman and Vicki sneak out of the theater after the preview of her first film.
  1. Esther Hoffman in the 1976 film.
  2. John Norman Howard in the 1976 film