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Film / A Star Is Born (1976)

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A Star Is Born is a 1976 film directed by Frank Pierson, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.

John Norman Howard (Kristofferson) is a big rock star. He also has a severe case of alcoholism which has sent his career into decline. One night after showing up late and drunk for a concert and leaving early, he makes his way to a bar where he sees an aspiring young singer named Esther Hoffman (Streisand). He is impressed by her talent and more impressed when she rescues him from the bar brawl that ensues.

He escorts her home. She refuses to let him in but they agree to meet the next morning. Eventually, after Howard makes a mess of himself at another concert, they meet again and fall in love. Howard invites her onstage at one of his concerts, and Esther is a huge hit. She becomes a big star, headlining a tour, winning a Grammy. Unfortunately John's downward spiral continues, even after he and Esther get married—his band fires him, he shows up drunk at the Grammy ceremony and humiliates Esther, Esther catches him in bed with a reporter. Eventually they reconcile, but tragedy awaits.

This is the third of four versions of A Star Is Born, previous movies having been made in 1937 and 1954 and a fourth released in 2018. However, neither this, nor any other version has any relation to the 1948 film A Song Is Born.

Gary Busey plays Bobbie, one of Howard's flunkies.

Tropes present in this work:

  • The Alcoholic: John's drinking is out of control—he gets drunk at concerts, he's drunk at the Grammys. Eventually it destroys him.
  • Ambiguous Situation: In all of the other three versions of this movie, the male lead clearly commits suicide at the end. In this version it's unclear whether John kills himself on purpose or whether he dies accidentally from extremely reckless driving.
  • Award Show: Esther wins a Grammy. John makes a drunken spectacle of himself at the ceremony.
  • Bar Brawl: Esther and John meet when he gets into a fight at the bar where she's singing and she rescues him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: John dies in a car crash but Esther will go on.
  • Credits Gag: Esther's clothes are Barbra Streisand's actual clothes. So the credit at the end reads "Miss Streisand's clothes from...her closet."
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: John goes to bed with a sexy reporter from Rolling Stone magazine, but at least technically does not cheat on Esther, because he can't get it up.
  • Love Theme: "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star is Born)" plays over John and Esther's romantic scenes.
  • Meet Cute: Esther rescues John from a Bar Brawl by taking him out the back door.
  • The Rock Star: John Norman Howard, a big rock star—or at least he was a big rock star but his career is circling down the drain as he drowns in alcohol.
  • Setting Update: This third version of the story is set in the music world, while the first two were stories about the movies. (The 2018 version was also a music story.)
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: When John isn't drunk he's snorting cocaine given to him by Bobbie.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: John Norman Howard as his career goes into a terminal slide. He is humiliated in one scene where a reporter calls up and mistakes him for Esther's secretary.