A Star Is Born is a 1937 American Technicolor romantic drama film produced by David O. Selznick, directed by William A. Wellman from a script by Wellman, Robert Carson, Dorothy Parker and Alan Campbell, and starring Janet Gaynor as an aspiring Hollywood actress, and Fredric March as a fading movie star who helps launch her career. The supporting cast features Adolphe Menjou, May Robson, Andy Devine, Lionel Stander and Owen Moore.
It was later remade three times: in 1954 starring Judy Garland and James Mason, in 1976 starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson and in 2018 starring Stefani Germanotta and Bradley Cooper.
Some film historians believe that the marriage of Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Fay was the film’s real-life inspiration. John Bowers has also been identified as inspiration for the Norman Maine character and the dramatic suicide-by-drowning scene near the end of the film (Bowers drowned in November 1936). The film contains several inside jokes, including Gaynor’s brief imitations of Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, and Mae West; the “Crawford Smear”, referring to Joan Crawford’s lipstick; and the revelation that the glamorous Norman Maine’s real last name is Hinkle. (Hinkle was the real last name of silent film star Agnes Ayres, and not far removed from Fredric March’s real last name, Bickel.)
This film also has some similarity to the earlier film What Price Hollywood? (1932), released by RKO Radio Pictures. The 1932 film’s original title was The Truth About Hollywood based on a story by Adela Rogers St. Johns. St. Johns loosely based her plot on the experiences of actress Colleen Moore and her husband, alcoholic producer John McCormick (1893–1961), and the life and death of director Tom Forman, who committed suicide following a nervous breakdown.
Four years after What Price Hollywood? was released, Selznick approached George Cukor and asked him to direct A Star Is Born. Cukor felt the plot was too similar to What Price Hollywood? so he declined. RKO executives considered filing a plagiarism suit against Selznick International Pictures because of the similarities in the story, but eventually chose not to take legal action. Cukor later directed the 1954 musical remake starring Judy Garland.
A common Hollywood myth about the film is that Lana Turner appeared as an extra in one of the scenes in the film. Turner often denied the myth over the years, mentioning that she was discovered several months after the picture had finished production.
By Selzinck International Pictures (https://archive.org/details/AStarIsBorn) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons