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on May 22, 2005
A blockbuster at the time of it's original release (it was the second-highest grossing film of 1976), the third screen version of A STAR IS BORN has always divided critics and fans alike. The film open to scathingly negative reviews, however, $5.6 million-budgeted picture went on to gross over $150 million at the box office and won an Academy Award and five Golden Globes. It's not without some irony that Streisand's most commercially successful film would also remain her most controversial. For every ten fans who state that STAR is Streisand's best film, there are always ten more who claim it is the weakest film in her filmography. Although both sides have some merit to support their claims, it should still be noted that the seventies take on A STAR IS BORN remains one of the most touching and highly entertaining showbiz dramas that Hollywood ever produced. For my money, it's the best version of the often-told tale.

The film is solidly enjoyable and throughly absorbing. Changing the setting from the old Hollywood studio system to the competitive world of the music industry was actually a great idea, and the screenplay forges a realistic contrast between the characters' romance and their careers. This is the main area that the 1976 version of A STAR IS BORN actually surpasses it's classic predecessors. For example, the film is especially successful when depicting the clashing personal and professional difficulties during recording sessions and the never-ending phone calls that interrupt Kristofferson's songwriting attempts. This version of the story is also more believable in it's portrayal of the lead characters. For example, the female leads in the two previous versions were so virtuous and self-sacrificing that they came off as saints. On the other hand, Esther, the female lead in this version, is not only portrayed as being strong and passionate, but also flawed and conflicted. This makes her feel more real than the Janet Gaynor or Judy Garland characters felt in the previous films, and makes the story that much more effective.

The performances are all on target, even though the supporting characters aren't fleshed out enough. If you're looking for an actress/singer who can walk the fine line between tough and vulnerable without making herself seem like a script contrivance, Streisand is definitely the girl you want. She's one of the few film stars who can make even the most banal dialogue seem fresh and natural, and, as usual, she manages to make a strong emotional connection with the viewer. Simply put, her Esther is a fully-realized, three-dimensional human being. Kris Kristofferson may not get much respect now for his laid-back characterization, however, he's always interesting watch and displays a magnetic charisma here that he seldom displayed elsewhere in his career. Kristofferson actually received rave reviews at the time from Newsweek, Time, and even the New Yorker's usually vicious Pauline Kael. Gary Busey and Paul Mazursky also give believable performances, but both have a fairly minimal amount of screentime.

The film's soundtrack recording was also a massive success, hitting the #1 on Billboard's Hot 200 and selling over four million copies in the US alone. The Streisand-composed "Evergreen" (with lyrics from Paul Williams) is unarguably one of the most gorgeous songs in contemporary pop, brought to even-further life by an absolutely incomparable vocal performance from Streisand. The rest of the film's original songs (mostly composed by Williams and Rupert Holmes) are pretty good as well, and Streisand sounds fantastic - her live solo numbers remain in the memory long after the rest of the movie has faded. Streisand's vibrant performances bring "Woman In The Moon" and "With One More Look At You" to thrilling life, and make even sillier numbers like "Queen Bee" work far better than they have the right to. Kristofferson's solo numbers sound somewhat tuneless, however, that may have been intentional since he is playing a singer in decline.

Though naturally dated in some respects (it definitely does reflect the decade in which it was made), the seventies take on A STAR IS BORN still holds up remarkably well. The film is well-mounted and slickly produced, the chemistry between the leads is extremely powerful and always feels genuine, and Streisand has two emotional scenes near the finale that are both aching effective. In conclusion, A STAR IS BORN is not only entertaining and moving, but it also transcends all criticism.

DVD UPDATE (12-6-06): The A STAR IS BORN DVD is finally here after several delays, and it was worth the wait. The picture quality is well above average, and is very film-like. Sure, there are the usual tale-tale signs that mar all films from the seventies (namely grain and inconsistent sharpness), but the transfer is great for a catalogue title that is over the 30 years old. The 5.1 sound is exceptional even by modern-day standards.

As far as supplements, Streisand's commentary is informative and entertaining, although I would have loved to hear Kristofferson join her on at least some scenes. The wardrobe test reel is good fun, and the 12 deleted/alternate scenes are great to have. I wish that the promotional television special "With One Look at You" and Streisand's thrilling performance of "Evergreen" from that year's Oscar telecast had also been included, but perhaps Warner Home Video could not secure the rights. All in all, with great picture, exceptional sound, and a healthy portion of supplements, the A STAR IS BORN DVD was well worth waiting for.
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on November 14, 2006
I highly recommend the disc to Streisand fans who will relish Barbra's full-length film commentary, 16 minute of additional scenes (many previously unseen), and original wardrobe test footage. Of course, the movie itself in all of its remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack glory sounds and looks as vibrant and possibly even better than it played in cinemas. The musical numbers and theatrical lighting are exceptional and features some truly classic Streisand singing on stage. With the inclusion of Barbra's complete humming and acoustic guitar rendition of "Evergreen," we finally have the opportunity to enjoy an otherwise unused musical number. Even her commentary is enlightening, revealing that Kristofferson had a first shot at the song's lyrics but didn't submit them until just a few years ago when he sent Barbra a framed copy. Among the deleted footage is Barbra applying lipstick to KK in the bathtub scene where she admits being comfortable enough with him from earlier years to forego anything covering her chest. Indeed, she first met KK at L.A.'s Troubador club escorted by manager Marty Erlichman whose virtues she frequently praises in the commentaries. In her discussion during the film Barbra recalls being certain she wanted to become a film director during A Star Is Born's shooting, as she often made suggestions to KK between takes and thought the movie's director Frank Pierson cut the camera prematurely. After directing three films, Barbra recently declined ASIB producer Jon Peters's recent invitation to direct an upcoming ASIB remake. Her commentary also details her music composing resume back to "Ma Premiere Chanson," admitting that winning an Oscar for composing "Evergreen" is the biggest thrill of her career. She wants to release another set of unreleased songs, including recordings made with Leon and Mary Russell in their home. In the commentary Barbra identifies her antique clothes worn in the film and says "People look great in black...you listen to them better." Of course, her 2006 concert wardrobe is almost exclusively black. She also engages in thoughtful analyses of the importance for her of being in the moment when capturing performances on film, especially her singing. Barbra elaborates how choices were made for the film's finale and even calls attention to her runny nose quite candidly and humorously. Concluding, she remembers ASIB as "a satisfying work experience," and that's how I would describe this DVD, perhaps more than satisfying yet not completely satisfying. Missing is the excellent Barbra: With One More Look At You TV program on the making of the movie, copies of which have circulated among fan-collectors for years. The DVD would also be enhanced and appear more complete by a collection of photo stills, especially the famous Scavullo poster session, a staple on nearly all DVDs. Including the original 4-minute theatrical trailer for ASIB as well as those for the previous two Star films with Garland and Gaynor is a nice touch.
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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon November 28, 2006
Thirty years after its initial release, the third version of "A Star Is Born" finally comes to DVD in a package that should please the most devoted fans of Barbra Streisand. That would include me since I just saw her in concert singing among other numbers, the feminist anthem "Woman in the Moon" from this 1976 film. Easy to dismiss, the movie's career-polarizing story is such a sturdy pile of Hollywood-style clichés that variations of it exist in other films including Streisand's own "Funny Girl". This time reset to the then-contemporary music scene, the timeworn plot follows self-destructive rock star John Norman Howard on his deep-dive career descent just as he meets club singer Esther Hoffman who is awaiting her big break.

Troubles dog their courtship from the outset, as John Norman (both names please) responds to grasping fans and bloodless DJs with random acts of violence (from which he inexplicably escapes prosecution). To John Norman, Esther represents his last shot at happiness, and in turn, she is drawn to the innately decent, creative musician underneath the façade. In the movie's most pivotal scene, he gives Esther her big break at a benefit concert, and her career takes off. Inevitably, he can't handle the failure of his career in light of her meteoric success, and if you are familiar with any version of this story, you know the rest. Directed by Frank Pierson (although Streisand's budding directorial talents are obviously on display), the film still manages to draw me in, even though I know it is shamelessly contrived and manipulative. It still has a certain emotional resonance despite its numerous flaws.

Although Streisand in her prime seems like the ideal choice to play a rising singing star, her screen persona is simply too strong and predefined to play Esther credibly. The same can be said for her performing style since the script seems to make allowances for her softer Adult Contemporary-oriented material to be accepted within the otherwise hardened world of arena rock. From the moment she pops her head up as the middle of the Oreos, she can't help but come across as an established star. I can forgive the lapse simply because she is an unparalleled vocal talent, but what becomes less forgiving is how she makes Esther more strident than poignant when John Norman's woes become overwhelming. This creates an oddly discomfiting dynamic in the last part of the film when it becomes less about what caused the climactic event than Esther's response to it. This is capped off by an uninterrupted eight-minute close-up of her memorial performance - great except when she regrettably mimics John Norman's style toward the end.

Kristofferson, on the other hand, gives a superb performance throughout, managing a level of honesty that grounds the film and makes palpable his concurrent feelings of love, pride and resentment toward Esther. He makes his vodka-soaked onstage growling work within this context. Otherwise, what always strikes me as strange about this version is how all the supporting characters are relegated to the background as if they didn't exist unless they were interacting with the two principals. The only ones who register are Paul Mazursky as John Norman's level-headed manager Brian and Gary Busey as his cynical band manager Bobbie. Veteran cameraman Robert Surtees provides a nice burnish to the cinematography though a level of graininess persists in the print. A big seller in its day, the soundtrack is a hodgepodge of different styles from the 1970's - some songs still quite good ("Everything", "Woman in the Moon", "Watch Closely Now"), some that have moved to kitsch ("Queen Bee", Kenny Loggins' "I Believe in Love") and of course, the inescapable "Evergreen".

The print transfer on the 2006 DVD is clean and the sound gratefully crisp thanks to digital remastering. Streisand's participation is the chief lure of the extras beginning with her feature-length commentary. She gives insightful information about the genesis of the film, the casting and the reportedly troubled production. She is also refreshingly candid about the megalomania of Jon Peters, her hairdresser boyfriend who became the movie's producer, and her dissatisfaction with Pierson as a director. I just wish she could have provided more scene-specific comments that directly relate to what is onscreen. She also tends to repeat the same anecdotes when the mood strikes her, e.g., it gets tiring to hear for the third time how the person playing the chauffeur was a friend of Peters. I think having a second commentator could have drawn out other nuggets from her.

There is a wardrobe test reel that shows some amusing 1970's clothes, especially Kristofferson's mixed-fabric poncho and orange polyester shirt. There are also twelve deleted scenes included with Streisand's optional commentary. One is a comic bread-baking scene which reminded me how much I like Streisand in farcical comedies. Another is an extended scene in which she plays "Evergreen" on the guitar in front of an awestruck Kristofferson who then falls asleep. The most interesting is an alternate take on the musical finale incorporating fast cuts, which I agree with Streisand should have been used. Fittingly, the theatrical trailers for all three versions of "A Star Is Born" are also included.
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on December 28, 2004
Can't believe there is no DVD. Have over 20 Streisand albums and this is my favourite. Those who do not like the songs have heard them less than a few times. The lady is a genius. I fell in love with her on hearing her "Butterfly" album when I was 14. Somebody over there in the States do something to get the DVD happening please.
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on December 2, 2004
After many, many, many years of waiting patiently for this DVD release it still is a no show. It's not the greatest movie in the world, it didn't exactly break box office records, so why I am I still forced to watch a cracky-line filled 20 something year old copy of this musical? I don't want to speculate but it must have something to do with the music rights. Everyone get over it. The fans clammer for this one, Babs! Make us all happy. The movie itself is high camp, a guilty pleasure if it were. Kris Kristofferson is no actor, not really a good singer either, but HE IS AN EXCEPTIONAL songwriter. And, Babs, we LOVE the hair, and the end credit line MS. Streisand's wardrobe by... her closet! That's priceless. No film collection would be complete without this one. Watch closely now...
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on April 23, 2013
German review see below!

ENGLISH I was just wondering about this version of "A Star is born" because Barbra Streisand is playing Judy Garlands "part" (and because she has a great voice) and the get the "first" Dolby Surround movie.

Well, both Versions are quite different. This 1976 versions isn't (for me) really a musical. Its more a music movie and I also don't like Rock/Pop-Songs. Its interesting, that Barbra Streisand has wanted to get Elvis Presley as Norman but his manager declined.

I wouldn't say that movie is terrible - its just not my kind. Sure, the story is so far interesting and Barbra Streisand is good in their part - so I give a neutral 3.5 rating.

Yes, its the first Dolby Surround movie... but technically it wasn't yet perfect. I guess we got here the best sound but for 5.1 Sound it wasn't really good enough in the concert Scenes (with thousand of people).

The picture quality looks really good.

The Bonus-Features contains a audio-Commentary with Babs.. but isnt really interesting and there are only 16 minutes of deleted scenes and wardrobe test of around 4 minutes and 3 trailers.

I would say.. for the 2nd biggest hit in 1976 - those extra are lousy. Also the booklet doesn't contains really great informations about making this movie (even this with the first Dolby Surround movie wans't mentioned).

FAZIT For those who likes 70s rockbands for those could be this movie interesting. Who likes more musical like West Side Story, Singin in the rain... it could be a dissapointing. For me it was OK.


Diese Blu-Ray (Digibook) ist Codefrei und enthält auch deutsche Tonspur (allerdings in Mono) sowie deutsche Unteritel und Menu.

Ich habe eher aus neugierde zu dieser Blu-Ray gegriffen (habe den Film noch nie zuvor gesehen) da mir die Versionen von "A Star is born" von 1937 und 1954 bekannt waren. Anstelle von Judy Garland ist nun die grossartige Barbra Streisand zu sehen, die wirklich eine tolle Stimme hat und auch eine tolle Schauspielerin ist. Leider gefaellt mir der ganze Film bezüglich den Rocksongs nicht wirklich (ist nicht so mein Stil). Für Fans von 70er Rockmusik/band könnte der Film durchaus gefallen.

Die Grund-Story ist so weit die gleiche geblieben: der Superstar von einst faellt durch Drogen und Alkohol tief, trifft die Frau und Saengerin seines lebens, die dann ploetzlich selbst Superstar avanciert, in dessen Schatten ploetzlich der einstige Star steht.

Interessant ist zudem, dass nicht Kris Kristofferson für die Rolle vorgesehen war, sondern Streisand wollte ausschliesslich Elvis Presley (man, waere das zustande gekommen, dann wäre das ein echter Knaller gewesen). Jedoch lehnte dessen Manager das Angebot ab. Zudem ist dies der erste Film im neuen Tonformat, in Dolby Surround gedreht wurde. Da die Technik wohl noch nicht ganz ausgereift war, ist es nur dadurch zu erklaeren, dass die Räumlichkeit in den Konzertszenen nicht ganz so gut rueberkommen - was ich aber so in dieser Form gelten lasse.

Die Bildqualitaet sieht recht gut/scharf aus.

Was mir nicht so gut gefaellt ist diese Hand/Wackelkamera die zum Einsatz kamen, um Authentitaet/Realismus zu erhalten, als waere man live dabei.

Enttaeuschend an dieser Blu-Ray ist das Bonus-Material, welches, in anbetracht dass der Film 1976 ein Mega-hit war, doch ziemlich spärlich daher kommt. Immerhin gibt es ein Audio-Kommentar mit Streisand.

Ein eigentliches Making of gibt es nicht. Lediglich 16 minuten Deleted/Alternate scenes, 3 Trailer, und ein Wardrobe-Test von ca. 4 min.

Das Booklet selbst enthält mehr Fotos, Biography der Darsteller - aber nicht wirklich making-of Infermationen oder Trivias (mit Ausnahme von ein oder zwei Punkte).

FAZIT: Fuer Rockfans und Musikfilm-Lieber (ich wuerde diesen Film nicht als Musical bezeichnen) der 70er Jahre durchaus interessant und auch die Story ist aber meinerseits nicht wirklich mein Geschmack.
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on February 2, 2016
My number one guilty pleasure movie. Yes, most of what the critics said back in '76 (yeah, I'm old) was accurate; very clichéd; Kris can't really sing, at least not rock songs; Barbara's pop songs actually sound more like her usual, Broadway showstoppers; and--hate to get a little mean here--but even with a beard, Kristofferson is prettier that Babs. So why have I seen this movie so many times? I don't know for sure, but I'm definitely not alone: back in '76, only Rocky made more money at the box office than Star, which is impressive given that the latter was R-rated and remember this was the year of The Bad News Bears, Network, Carrie, All the President's Men, Taxi Driver and The Omen, all big hits and now considered classics in their own right. Again, quite impressive. It reminds me (as strange as it sounds) of Scarface in that I found it incredibly entertaining (like a lot of people) despite it's many idiocies and excesses. We all have at least one, cinematic guilty pleasure. This is mine and I make no apologies.
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on February 22, 2006
Originally scheduled for a December 2005 release, A STAR IS BORN was delayed by Warner Home Video with no definite release date revealed. Streisand fans are well aware that, out of her film career, only A STAR IS BORN and YENTL remain unreleased on DVD. (YENTL will be released by Sony, which bought MGM/UA's library ... again, no official date set for that one).

On February 21, 2006, reps from Warner Home Video chatted online at hometheaterforum.com. Of the delayed STAR IS BORN disc, they said: "The approval process on the '76 STAR IS BORN is taking longer than we had anticipated, but it's happening and will be worth it."

So, there is still no official release date, but at least they acknowledge they're working on it! Warner Home Video always does an excellent job on their DVD releases -- A STAR IS BORN ('76) will certainly be no different. I am most excited to hear the 5.1 mix Dolby Digital mix of sound. (I reported alll of this over at my Streisand fan site, [...])

By the way, isn't this summer the 30th Anniversary of STAR IS BORN? It was released summer 1976 ... and this summer is 2006. That would certainly be a good selling point.
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on March 10, 2005
Why in the heck is this movie not out on dvd yet?? I've been waiting for years to own the disc!! It's such a classic love story of my time and I will never forget all of it's tender moments. I first saw it at it's premiere when I was 17 in Hollywood. After that I owned the music LP, now today the cd. I think the movie to this day is still as great as it was back then. Can you imagine hearing it come in on 5.1 surround? Aw[...] nice!! Come on now, A Star Is Born fans are waiting!!!
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on March 13, 2005
BAD NEWS ! As i have said before A Star Is Born was Going to be released on September 20th 2005 but sadly it has been DELAYED and wont be out till December 6th 2005. But Thats still Good News ! The DVD will not be Two Dvds and will have deleted scenes, wardrobe takes , and other things. The Movie is great and is Barbra at her best but isnt she always great
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