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Showboat and A Star is Born - just redone too many times


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Don't we consider the fact that "A Star Is Born" was also done THREE times - There was a discussion about "Showboat" being done first as a silent film, then with Irene Dunne and Paul Robeson, etc.in black and white and then the sanitized glitzy version in 1951 with all the dazzle and Howard Keel, Kathrine Grayson, etc. and William Warfield.   

But "A Star Is Born" was done three times as well - and in my opinion should have been left at the first.  Judy Garland version was even worse than Barbara Streisand's.

Might not be that important a topic but it bothered me that the lecture video included a thought that no other film had been done so many times and cannot recall now what other film Dr. Ament quoted but it was not "A Star is Born".

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In a way, A Star is Born has actually been filmed four times, with a fifth on the way. The first 1937 version was based on the earlier What Price Hollywood from 1932, with Neil Hamilton and Constance Bennett. The details are different but the basic story of two stars, one on the way up and another on the way down, coming together was originated here. Some remakes are pointless or even sacrilegious. But the bones of this story are pretty strong and none of the previous versions are perfect, though all are delightful in their own right. I’m looking forward to the new one. Lady Gaga is an incredible talent. You can’t count her out.

I doubt that we’ll ever see another Show Boat movie. But I’ll bet it comes back to the stage again some day. It has an incredible score, wonderful characters and a story that is rich and heartfelt, but whose flaws continue to wait for the perfect solution.

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51 minutes ago, MarkH said:

In a way, A Star is Born has actually been filmed four times, with a fifth on the way. The first 1937 version was based on the earlier What Price Hollywood from 1932, with Neil Hamilton and Constance Bennett. The details are different but the basic story of two stars, one on the way up and another on the way down, coming together was originated here. Some remakes are pointless or even sacrilegious. But the bones of this story are pretty strong and none of the previous versions are perfect, though all are delightful in their own right. I’m looking forward to the new one. Lady Gaga is an incredible talent. You can’t count her out.

I doubt that we’ll ever see another Show Boat movie. But I’ll bet it comes back to the stage again some day. It has an incredible score, wonderful characters and a story that is rich and heartfelt, but whose flaws continue to wait for the perfect solution.

 Even though George Cukor was not considered to be a director of musicals, per se in the 1950s, I thought it was very clever of Judy Garland to select him to direct her in " A Star is Born"  because he had directed the original concept movie, "What Price Hollywood" in 1932 with Constance Bennett.

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The first musical I ever saw was Show Boat. My parents took me to see it at our outdoor under-the-stars musical theater Starlight Theatre in my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. It was a live production and I absolutely fell in love with it and with musicals!! Many years later, Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas Chiefs football team, purchased the actual MGM Cotton Blossom and brought it to Kansas City as a permanent attraction for our theme park Worlds of Fun. What a thrilling moment that was for Kansas Citians!! It opened on May 26, 1973 and we enjoyed it for many years until, sadly, it fell into disrepair from structure rot, since it was only intended to be a movie prop and not constructed to be an enduring structure. It was removed in 1995 but so many of us remember that amazing piece of Hollywood memorabilia that we were privileged to see in person and enjoy for so many years. 

Cotton blossom KC 1973.jpg

cotton blossom KC worlds of fun 1973.jpg

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On 6/23/2018 at 7:37 PM, corinne54 said:

Gaga is my girl! I'm VERY excited to see the new version - and who knew Bradley Cooper could sing!

 

A_Star_is_Born.png

More like GAGAG me with a spoon!  I think she can sing but the thought of seeing these two in that same dang movie -- OY!

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On 6/23/2018 at 6:18 PM, JDC_NYC said:

Might not be that important a topic but it bothered me that the lecture video included a thought that no other film had been done so many times and cannot recall now what other film Dr. Ament quoted but it was not "A Star is Born".

Which lecture video was this? Maybe I haven't gotten that far yet, I'm still a bit behind.

 

To pick a couple random examples off the top of my head, I'll bet there are more versions of Dracula and Alice in Wonderland. Or am I missing some context?

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On 6/27/2018 at 11:40 AM, Chuck V. said:

Which lecture video was this? Maybe I haven't gotten that far yet, I'm still a bit behind.

 

To pick a couple random examples off the top of my head, I'll bet there are more versions of Dracula and Alice in Wonderland. Or am I missing some context?

I think she mentioned that The Maltese Falcon was better in the remake.  I don't remember her mentioning The Front Page, but it has been remade several times.

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I think of a "remake" as comparable to the situation in the theater where they are constantly putting on the same plays over again -- because people want to see them again, or different major actors want to take on the role of Hamlet, or Sally Bowles. I think the current state of the media allows us to own copies of or constantly access already-made movie versions, but it didn't used to be that way. And why not see how a different person interprets the role? I like the idea of seeing a new interpretation of a production that still speaks to our time.

Now, the question of whether A Star is Born or Showboat is still relevant to us... I agree that A Star is Born still tells us a story that interests us, about how people create their Show Biz Career. Showboat...well, that's a pretty artificial situation that would be much harder to re-interpret, and maybe not worth it. Just this past weekend I saw a local production of Cabaret and really appreciated it being live action, and seeing Somebody-Not-Liza interpret it. Was it as "good"? Maybe not. But was it worth it? Absolutely. Remake-Away!

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Good point.

And of course Liza didn’t invent Sally Bowles either. Julie Harris, Jill Haworth and Judy Dench were there before her. So, new generations give it a try! 

interestingly, back in the old studio days, the studios would go to extreme measures to suppress the original when they were launching a major remake. We’re lucky MGM didn’t completely destroy the 1936 Show Boat or the 1925 Ben-Hur because they certainly did make those films almost completely disappear from view for decades. 

Now, the original film will turn up on TCM or elsewhere as part of the promotion for the new remake. The originals are now always there for us, so no harm to try a new version. The new version will ultimately live or die on its own while the original lives on.

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