And more from our Liz: Is Dubai sinking?…. David Geffen honored
“DO YOU think I’m slipping?”
“Can you take it?”
“Yeah, go ahead.”
“The tense is wrong. You’re not slipping. You’ve slipped.”
* * *
THE ABOVE is an exchange between Fredric March as Norman Maine and Adolphe Menjou as press rep Oliver Niles in the 1937 version of “A Star Is Born.” This movie also starred Janet Gaynor as the young innocent actress who loves alcoholic Maine, but is helpless to aid him as her career rises and his free falls.
“A Star is Born” would be remade twice again — with Judy Garland and James Mason in 1954, and in 1976 with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson as the unhappy couple. (We should also count 1933’s “What Price Hollywood?” which is where the basic plot began.)
Now, you’d think four versions of one story would be enough. But how wrong you are. There’s always a new way to tell a tale, especially one of glamorous Tinsel Town dissipation. (We love to watch the rich and famous suffer. That’s why so many people enjoyed Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes.)
So we should not be too surprised to hear that there’s another “Star Is Born” in the works. This time the young woman on the rise is sexy, soulful Beyonce. No word yet on who might play her sodden lover/mentor (Denzel Washington?) or the pivotal role of the heartless, fed-up, PR guy (Kevin Spacey?) But get this as director: Clint Eastwood. Clint is very interested and is already “in talks.”
“A Star is Born” is an extremely dark take on Hollywood, and the last two versions — by Garland and Streisand — were epic in length and concept. Eastwood’s directorial efforts are dark (grim, actually) and hours and hours long. If this “ASIB” comes to pass, it should be one hell of a movie! I don’t know if it will be a good movie, but fascinating for sure.
* * *
P.S. I know you didn’t ask, but you might wonder which of the versions of “ASIB” I consider the “best?” Well, they all have their good points, and their bad. But despite its age and relative brevity, I give the nod to the ’37 version with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. Although Gaynor is the least obviously charismatic — it’s difficult to gauge why she becomes such a great star — that fuzzy quality works within the basic story of a girl swept off her feet by an older man who convinces her she “has that little something extra” and helps turn her into a movie queen. (Or a hot rock singer, as per Barbra and Kris.)
The Misses Garland and Streisand were ridiculously talented, and it hardly makes sense they’d be banging around Hollywood, unknown until Mr. Big Drunk comes along. Judy and Barbra throw their versions off-kilter, though James Mason matches Miss Garland’s intensity in his tragic descent. (The less said about what goes on between Barbra and Kris, the better.)
Beyonce? She’s got a lot of pizzazz herself. Again, it will be difficult to suspend disbelief as soon as she opens her mouth to sing. And she’s gorgeous, too. (She will be hands down the most beautiful “Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester”—though I anticipate a change in the heroine’s name.) But with Clint Eastwood at the helm, all bets are off. This will be worth waiting for — the La La Land version of “Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil.”
Even though some people — like George Lucas — still think the world is going to end next year and we shouldn’t look too far ahead.
* * *
Mr. Lucas now says he was just kidding when he referred to the Mayan Prophecy. But many agree with this astrological prediction of doom.
And some of them are in Dubai where the famous “islands” – representing the countries of the globe – are now reported to be sinking into the sea. These creations with hotels and villas, reachable only by yacht or motorboat, are eroding according to evidence put before a property tribunal. Seventy per cent of these “islands” have been bought as luxury homes but only one of them, representing Greenland, is actually inhabited. It is owned by the ruler of Dubai.
Spokespersons, of course, deny that the islands are sinking.
* * *
I RECEIVED this week a magnificent little black box and it took me a while to get into it, thinking perhaps it contained caviar or at least a diamond bracelet. Inside was a lovely gold-embossed on-black invitation from The Recording Academy, which is celebrating its 2011 Grammy Salute to Industry Icons on February 13th. The honoree? David Geffen. Nobody has done more for international charity and nobody deserves it more than David!