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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful restoration
The historical 1937 film A STAR IS BORN has remained a classic for many many years. This film's merits are many, I need not comment on them, but will make a comment on the cast. While the entire cast is outstanding, the real standout is Janet Gaynor who portrays Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester in such a way that you can connect with her and feel her sincerity on a level...
Published on September 27, 2005 by Pope

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars WHERE IS THE UCLA RESTORED PRINT???
As with other fans of this classic film, I am greatly disappointed that KINO'S latest offering is not much of an improvement over previous KINO DVD releases of the film. While the IMAGE/KINO DVDs in 1998 and 2004 were at that time a marked improvement over the myriad of public domain travesties, the elements utilized for this release are only marginally better, despite...
Published on February 11, 2012 by G. Alan Hicks


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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful restoration, September 27, 2005
By 
Pope (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Star Is Born (DVD)
The historical 1937 film A STAR IS BORN has remained a classic for many many years. This film's merits are many, I need not comment on them, but will make a comment on the cast. While the entire cast is outstanding, the real standout is Janet Gaynor who portrays Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester in such a way that you can connect with her and feel her sincerity on a level that you cannot with Judy Garland in the 1954 version (and the less said about the 1970s Barbra Streisand version the better). The rest of the performances in this film are super.

This film, produced by the late great David O. Selznick and released through United Artists, is currently in the public domain and many of the numerous DVDs/VHSs of such films are of deplorable picture and sound quality. Fortunately, it is not so on this DVD release from Image. The colors are extremely bold and vibrant. There are some age-related artifacts present and graininess is visible in a number of places, however this has been kept to a minimum. I will forgive these shortcomings considering the elements used for the DVD transfer are nearly 70 years old. 3-strip Technicolor was still in its infancy in 1937 (indeed, the first feature shot entirely in this process was released only 2 years earlier), but some outstanding results were had even then. The sound, while obviously rendered in 1937 recording technology, has been nicely cleaned up for this release, allowing the musical score by the venerable Max Steiner to shine as it should.

Pass up the cheap DVDs and look only for the release from Image Entertainment, edition # ID2777IMDVD. I guarantee this will be the best DVD of A STAR IS BORN you will find.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars WHERE IS THE UCLA RESTORED PRINT???, February 11, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As with other fans of this classic film, I am greatly disappointed that KINO'S latest offering is not much of an improvement over previous KINO DVD releases of the film. While the IMAGE/KINO DVDs in 1998 and 2004 were at that time a marked improvement over the myriad of public domain travesties, the elements utilized for this release are only marginally better, despite the HD processing. This is also particularly disappointing when the film's fan base is aware that a restored print (by UCLA) exists.

According to a March, 2010 blog-post by NY POST film critic Lou Lumenick, he said, "Daniel Selznick, son of producer David O. Selznick, told me two years ago that WHV was doing a high-definition transfer of a UCLA restoration of the 1937 original, which has long languished in public-domain hell." Lumenick also quoted a Warner rep as saying, "When we looked at the master of the '37 'A Star is Born,' we realized that it really needed, more importantly, deserved a special restoration...using our Ultra Resolution process to bring out the glorious Technicolor of that film. So rather than it be an add on...some less than-terrific extra content, we pulled it back so as not to diminish the importance of either versions."

I suppose it was wishful thinking on my part that KINO would be releasing that long-awaited "restored" version. This will be the VERY last version I invest in until either Warner Home Video, Criterion or KINO offers us the ultimate version -- and that will only be when the restored print from the UCLA effort is finally utilized as the source material.

Despite's the Selznick Estate's stamp of approval, I would suggest people save their money and wait.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another "Rolls-Royce" from Selznick, June 3, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: A Star Is Born (DVD)
Much has been written about this 1937 film in regard to its story, characters etc. The word "classic" tends to be over-used but it IS a true "classic": the drama and the comedy haven't dated one bit. My main interest in this particular movie however is that it was the first Hollywood film with a contemporary plot to be filmed in the relatively new three-strip Technicolor process. Producer David Selznick's business partner Jock Whitney, a millionaire from New York who was interested in motion pictures, had a stake in the Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation. This film was used as part of a showcase for the stunning new process. It is a Technicolor Timecapsule of 1930s Hollywood. Before I purchased this DVD copy of the film (King Video/Image Entertainment), every other version I'd seen (on VHS) was from a positively awful old print, with faded colour and no sharpness or contrast. I am pleased to say the DVD quality is very good, with pleasant colour. The source used was a 35 mm print from Selznick Properties Ltd which, while a little scratched in one or two places, is far superior to any other version of this motion picture that has been available for purchase. If this version had been mastered from the original camera negatives (as are many movies when transferred to DVD), I would have given it the full five stars. I believe the rights to this film have changed hands many times since 1937 so maybe the camera negatives and soundtrack are lost, deteriorated beyond salvation, or destroyed. If that was the case it is a great tragedy that we cannot enjoy this movie in its full Glorious Technicolor. But, as I have indicated, this DVD is the best copy of the 1937 "A Star Is Born" I have seen to date and it may be the best we will ever see it now. I have not viewed other available DVD releases of this motion picture.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boulevard Of Broken Dreams...., June 12, 2002
By 
F. Gentile (Lake Worth, Florida, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Star Is Born [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Though this is the only non-musical version of the thrice filmed tale, this original is my favorite. It may more than likely appear dated to some, but it is not only a wonderful story about the price of fame, but an early record of Hollywood history. Fredric March and Janet Gaynor are wonderfully touching as the doomed couple ,"Norman Maine" and "Vicki Lester", she being the new discovery whose *star* is ascending, totally eclipsing March's descending stardom. This was my first glimpse at Janet Gaynor, and I fell in love with her. May Robson is great also as Gaynors feisty Granny, who encourages the young, unknown dreamer to follow her dreams, and is there at the end when she seems to have given up. There are many wonderful moments, as when Gaynor, as the then pre-stardom "Esther Blodgett" tries to get the attention of movie big-whigs by her impressions of then popular stars Mae West, Katherine Hepburn, and Garbo. Andy Devine (that VOICE!!) is comical as the fledgling director who befriends the naive, broke, and new to Hollywood "Esther", and sticks with her through her metamorphosis to "Vicki Lester", and her tragedy and heartache. There's also fun scenes of early Hollywood locales, like the Hollywood Bowl, and interesting behind the scenes looks at the star-making process, when a little nobody is given everything from a new hairline to a new name. I always find myself blubbering like a fool at the films end, when Gaynor, having triumphantley come back from tragedy, delivers her final, famous line with a teary-eyed close-up. Yes, it's corny, but I'm crying not only because it's a tear-jerker, but also at the memory of all those beautiful fools of that long ago time, when there really was a place called HOLLYWOOD.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Print Yet, August 26, 1999
This review is from: A Star Is Born (DVD)
Having been in public domain for so long now, it seems everyone has put out a print of this movie on video. They are consistently poor quality issues. This DVD issue is not perfect by any means, but it far exceeds any others I've seen. If ever a film was in need of a full restoration this is it. A great movie about that land of hopes and dreams called Hollywood. Honest, realistic, touching, and tragic. Although Judy Garland's version is excellent this is the version that truly delivers. I won't even mention the Streisand remake.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For fans of this classic 1937 film, it's worth upgrading to this Blu-ray release!, May 5, 2012
This review is from: A Star is Born (Kino Classics Edition) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
The original heartbreaking Hollywood romantic drama, "A Star is Born" makes its debut on Blu-ray.

While many people are familiar with George Cukor's 1954 classic film adaptation starring Judy Garland and James Mason, the very first film was back in 1937 and was produced by David O. Selznick (the producer known for "Gone with the Wind" and bringing Alfred Hitchock to the United States to direct "Rebecca" and "Spellbound") and a film directed by William A. Wellman ("Wings", "Nothing Sacred"). The film was written by Wellman, Robert Carson, Dorothy Parker and Alan Campbell.

The film would star Janet Gaynor ("Seventh Heaven", "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans", "Street Angel", "Lucky Star"), Fredric March ("The Best Year of Our Lives", "Nothing Sacred", "Design for Living") and Adolphe Menjou ("Paths of Glory", "A Farewell to Arms").

"A Star is Born" was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning "Best Story" (and also earning a special Academy Award for "Technicolor Cinematography" for W. Howard Greene) and would become the first color film to be nominated for "Best Picture".

While there are earlier Hollywood films that would be based on one trying to make it in Hollywood or the perils of fame, "A Star is Born" would surprise audiences with its tragic ending and for a film of it's time, it was a a romantic drama that was an instant tearjerker.

VIDEO:

"A Star is Born" is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1). It's one of the earlier Technicolor films and while this film has been released on DVD before, many who have seen this film, saw it via terrible quality public domain videos. May they have been downloaded or purchased on DVD.

I have seen the original public domain version and because it was Technicolor and in bad quality, for me, those public domain versions were unwatchable. Fast forward to 2012 and Kino Lorber has presented us an authorized edition from the estate of David O. Selznick from the collection of George Eastman House.

With that being said, for those who are not familiar with Kino Lorber, they are not like a major studio or the Criterion Collection. They do not do frame-by-frame restorations which is very expensive and laborious but they present the best quality of a film to present on Blu-ray. So, these are films that will have dust, white specks and damage. Kino Lorber is also selective on what releases will receive a Blu-ray release and with "A Star is Born", I'm pretty happy that they did choose this classic film and give it an HD release.

As expected from early Technicolor films, the colors are a bit softer than what one are used to seeing from a Technicolor film from the '50s or '60s, but still, there is clarity. And compared to the public domain releases out there, this Blu-ray release of "A Star is Born" is a huge step via picture quality as colors are not faded. Sure, there is some film damage and white specks but the clarity, the colors and even the black levels look great for this 75-year-old film and its worth upgrading from the PD copies and even the previous DVD's to this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

"A Star is Born" is presented in Linear PCM 2.0 monaural and once again, Kino Lorber doesn't clean up their releases. They present the best quality of a film on Blu-ray.

So, there are moments of mild hissing and occasional pops but by no means will this affect your viewing. Dialogue is clear, Max Steiner's music is also clear and definitely much more pleasant to the ears compared to the PD release.

There are no subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

"A Star is Born" comes with the following special features:

Gallery - Featuring 16 stills, posters and lobby cards.
Wardrobe Test - (1:15) A Technicolor wardrobe test.
Kino Classics Trailers

JUDGMENT CALL:

Before there was "Sunset Boulevard" and before the George Cukor classic starring Judy Garland, there was the 1937 William Wellman original.

And while the 1954 film was quite memorable and also was a musical with a different storyline, "A Star Is Born" is rather interesting because it took on a storyline of what was happening in Hollywood at that time.

Bare in mind, the transition from the silent era to the talkies, was the most difficult transition for many Hollywood talents. While many were well-known in silent films, many who transitioned to talking films, saw their careers decline. There was no gradual decline, one year you were hot, the next year your career was over.

And it has been well-documented of the many Hollywood talents that were unable to transition their careers from the 1920's to the 1930's and became alcoholics.

And while the classic film "Sunset Boulevard" featured that type of storyline focusing on a popular actress and her decline, in the 1930's, there were films that took on tabloid news about celebrity suicides and George Cukor (who directed the Judy Garland "A Star is Born"), directed a 1932 film titled "What Price is Hollywood?" that dealt with one's waning career (an interesting side note: David O. Selznick admitted that Cukor's 1932 film was used as source material for "A Star is Born").

But with William Wellman's "A Star is Born" is your classic Hollywood story about a celebrity couple. Unlike the 1954 version which Judy Garland used as a vehicle to once again showcase her vocals, this is no musical. This is about two people who found love, but yet as one becomes a star, the other becomes a falling star and is unable to cope with his fall from stardom.

And with the 1954 version, you expect Judy Garland to sing. With Janet Gaynor, what many have known her from is F.W. Murnau's "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans", "7th Heaven" and "Lucky Star". Often she played the heartbroken woman, but for this film, she had a chance to show off various sides of her acting, may it be the tearful farmgirl who wants to go to Hollywood, the comedic actress trying to show off her acting impersonations to Hollywood higher-ups and most importantly, playing the strong-willed wife who has achieved success thanks to her husband.

So, Gaynor was an intriguing actress to play the role of Vicki, because we see a different side to her acting.

Fredric March on the other hand, he has always played the suave character. May it be his role in "Design for Living" to "Nothing Sacred", he is a charismatic actor and while his Norman Maine portrays him as strong-willed (this is a man who stays a man and never shows his sensitive side) man who is an alcoholic (strong-willed, but inside, he is frustrated and depressed).

The original also was helped by its surrounding characters. May Robson does a fine job of playing the sensible grandmother (who actually has a wonderful supporting actress role in the film, a character missing in the 1954 version), Adolphe Menjou as the producer Oliver Niles and bumbling Andy Devine as Vicki's good friend, Danny.

This is a film that focuses on the perils of fame and while I enjoyed this 1937 film for keeping within the confines of a Hollywood story without the "happily ever after", it's George Cukor's film that was full of emotion. Not to say that Janet Gaynor and Fredric March lacked emotion at all, it's acting that was common for 1930's, Judy Garland and James Mason took the role to another level in the 1954 film adaptation. There is no doubt that the musical version was emotionally charged and was much more of an emotional film.

While both films are similar, yet they were very different and needless to say, George Cukor knew how to make the remake even more powerful and emotional than the original film.

Still, for any cinema fan, a chance to see Janet Gaynor in her Academy Award "Best Actress" nominated performance and to see her in a much different light than she was previously seen in the Murnau films (and also to see her in early Technicolor) was quite enjoyable. Also, if musicals are not your thing and has pushed you away from watching the 1954 version, fortunately in 2012, we have the best version of the original "A Star is Born" on video ala Blu-ray. You can trash those public domain versions or give them away to a friend, but if you want the definitive version of this 1937 film, this Blu-ray release is the way to go!

Granted, the picture and audio quality may not be pristine but still, this Blu-ray release is so much better than the old public domain copies and the film has never looked so good until now!

Overall, "A Star is Born" is another wonderful release from Kino Lorber and a fine addition to their Kino Classics lineup on Blu-ray. I look forward to more of these classic Hollywood films from Kino! Definitely recommended!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS THE 1......., January 19, 2004
This review is from: A Star Is Born (DVD)
This is the original... The best.... It has a great feel of the Hollywood that was... Gaynor and March are great. I love u Judy - but THIS is THE classic film of the often-told-story... Judy is a class act, but HER film was/is not a classic.
BUY IT FOR GOODNES-SAKES hehehe:)(:
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Original, March 11, 2000
This review is from: A Star Is Born [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I haven't seen the remakes of this film to be able to compare them, but I do know that the basic story of this film has been used over and over in movie history, and that's because it's a good one. The plot follows the rise of a young actress and the fall of her actor-husband. Fredric March is excellent as the husband who turns to the bottle for comfort when his career flounders and his star dims. Janet Gaynor, as the star that is born, plays her role expressively, no doubt influenced by her days in silent films, but it works and anchors the film. Lionel Stander is great as a cynical studio man. There are a number of terrific scenes, including several surrounding the new actress' makeover (name and looks) which gives the viewer an idea of how the studio system must have worked in the Golden Age. The final scene is also a classic. A Star is Born is well scripted and acted, and it opens the door into Hollywood of the Thirties.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MOVIE ABOUT GRATITUDE, April 17, 2007
By 
Daniel S. "Daniel" (Geneva, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Star Is Born (DVD)
This review is about the Image release of William A. Wellman's A STAR IS BORN. No bonus, just a scene access, excellent sound and above average quality of the images.

William A. Wellman, the director of the film, earned a well-deserved Academy award in 1938 for his story whose themes were also handled in A Star Is Born and in A Star Is Born since. This movie is about the role and the impact of the images in Hollywood and about a feeling rarely treated, because not particularly expressive, in cinema : gratitude.

David O. Selznick, the producer of A STAR IS BORN, liked to take risks in his job and often worked with directors blessed by a strong artistic vision, like Alfred Hitchcock Spellbound - Criterion Collection, King Vidor Duel in the Sun or William Dieterle Portrait of Jennie. William A. Wellman could thus propose, at the beginning and at the end of the film, these famous shots of a screenplay describing what we will see or have just seen on the screen. Think about it : we're in 1937 and the French New Wave will appear more than 20 years later only !

When we watch A STAR IS BORN now, we are boggled by the quality of the dialogues of the film and the importance of the supporting roles. Lionel Stander, Andy Devine, May Robson or Adolphe Menjou have all important lines to say and are not just here to fill the screen between two apparitions of Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. Without them, there is simply no film at all.

A DVD for your library.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Part of Hollywood History, April 11, 2008
By 
Stephen Reginald (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A Star Is Born (DVD)
The original 1937 David O. Selznick production of A Star is Born is definitely the best version so far produced. Filmed in early Technicolor, this print is better than most, but there is still a dark cast to many of the scenes. The real good news is the sound is perfect with little or no distortion. The quality of the transfer is better than most versions I've seen, so it's worth adding to your collection if you really like this film. Janet Gaynor and Fredric March give two heart-felt performances and are supported ably by Adolph Menjou, Andy Devine, and May Robson as Gaynor's irrepressible grandmother. Tightly directed by William A. Wellman, this version is nicely paced and never bogs down the way the Judy Garland remake does.
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A Star is Born (Kino Classics Edition) [Blu-ray]
A Star is Born (Kino Classics Edition) [Blu-ray] by William A. Wellman (Blu-ray - 2012)
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