Gaynor’s first job after leaving Fox was this estimable David O. Selznick production, a gimlet-eyed melodrama about the Hollywood movie colony. A Star Is Born traces the rise of an aspiring actress (Gaynor) to the heights of fame and fortune, while also charting the obverse trajectory of her matinee-idol husband (Fredric March). William A. Wellman developed the story with a clutch of quality writers, and the Oscar-winning script crackles with wit and finely observed details of behind-the-scenes life in Tinseltown. Nominated for numerous Academy Awards—including one for Gaynor’s subtle, sympathetic lead performance—A Star Is Born became the biggest box-office hit of the year and provided Gaynor with her most famous line, and one of the most famous last lines in Hollywood history: “This is Mrs. Norman Maine.” The picture was especially praised for W. Howard Greene’s color cinematography, which vividly evoked the glamorous modern filmmaking milieu and proved that Technicolor technology “need not, should not, be restricted to the gaudy costume drama” (New York Times). —BAM/PFA
William A.Wellman, the Oscar-winning director-screenwriter producer, was nicknamed “Wild Bill” because his larger-than life personality was as dynamic and freewheeling as one of his movies. TCM’s salute to this film legend includes a revised version of Richard Schickel’s The Men Who Made the Movies: William Wellman,made in 1973 and now updated with new interview material, re-mastered footage and a new narration by director Sydney Pollack. Joining host Robert Osborne to introduce and discuss TCM’s lineup of films is the filmmaker’s son, actor-producer-author William Wellman Jr.
Wellman (1896-1975) was born in Brookline, Mass., and saw action in World War I as part of the famous Lafayette Flying Corps. Between 1920 and 1923 he rose from bit actor to director of Hollywood films and made his name as a major filmmaker by directing the 1927 Wings, which won the first Best Picture Oscar®. He went on to create a wide variety of movies, and our festival is divided into genres in which… read more
A charming, old-fashioned studio picture; fairly straightforward in its technique (indeed, coming straight out of the Hollywood playbook) but consistently generating genuine sympathy. Really quite a candid self-critique from the period too (bankrolled by Mr. Selznick himself, no less), with the parable reaching an emotional head in its turbulent final sequences. The two great leads cap off this classic rendition.
This top shelf Hollywood melodrama is the first incarnation of the story that would go on to be remade twice (with another in the works). It is in many ways the quintessential Hollywood tale, about a young girl from nowhere who goes to Hollywood, catches the eye of its biggest star, and hits the big time just as he begins to lose his popularity. Studio product (produced by David O. Selznick) at its finest.