The Star Witness
The Warner Archive Collection
1931 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 68 min. / Street Date March 12, 2019 / available through the WBshop / 19.99
Starring: Walter Huston, Charles ‘Chic’ Sale, Frances Starr, Grant Mitchell, Sally Blane, Edward J. Nugent, Dickie Moore, Nat Pendleton, George Ernest, Russell Hopton, Allan Lane.
Cinematography: James Van Trees
The Star Witness is a gripping crime thriller by way of courtroom drama in this early talkie directed by cinema titan “Wild Bill” William A. Wellman. The Leeds family have just sat down for dinner with Abby’s father, Civil War veteran Grandpa Summerill (Charles `Chic’ Sale) when shots are fired outside, down the street. Gangster Maxey Campo has gunned down two men in cold blood and he makes his getaway through the Leeds’ family house, assaulting feisty Grandpa along the way. Crusading District Attorney Whitlock (Walter Huston) is elated at first, having an entire family of witnesses ready to do their civic duty and testify against the racketeers running rampant in the city. Maxey, however, isn’t finished with the Leeds and unleashes his forces
SEELady Gaga’s heart will go on: ‘Shallow’ may be the 1st soundtrack song to win top Grammy since ‘Titanic’ anthem
The good news for Warner Bros’ drama musical is that is was still nominated in eight categories: Best Picture, Best Actress (Lady Gaga), Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Supporting Actor (Sam Elliott), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing
Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” ends as all iterations of the classic love story end: The male star takes his own life so the skyrocketing career of the woman he loves won’t suffer from his personal issues. Cooper stuck to the basic template originally used by William A. Wellman and his co-screenwriters for the 1937 version of “A Star Is Born,” but the director originally intended to be much more faithful to the first movie, starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March.
As part of Variety’s Lady Gaga cover story, Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich revealed the first script he read for Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” ended the same way Wellman’s original did. The 1937 film ends with March’s Norman Maine taking his life by drowning himself in the Pacific Ocean. The new film, written by Cooper, Eric Roth,
Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born is the fourth iteration of the beloved source material of the classic rags to riches story. At one stage reportedly through the last decade of development, it was a passion project for Clint Eastwood to helm with any eye for Beyonce in the leading actress role. Ultimately, Eastwood chose the road of Jersey Boys to mixed response and the queen of music continued to solidify herself as the biggest star on the planet. Fast-forward to 2017 and understudy to Eastwood, Bradley Cooper takes the directors chair for his directorial debut and the leading actor role with the somewhat sceptical choice of Lady Gaga taking the incredibly ardent and monumental task of leading actress.
The end result? A majestic and empowering venture
Producer David O. Selznick’s original rendering won Oscars for its cinematography and its original story. While the story was written by director William A. Wellman and novelist Robert Carson, many of its sharpest and most cutting lines are believed to have been penned by famed writer Dorothy Parker and husband Alan Campbell (who were nominated in a separate Oscar category but didn’t win).
Janet Gaynor played Esther Blodgett-turned-Vicki Lester, a starry-eyed
Musicals are known for their required suspension of disbelief, the fact that we must buy into a reality where people simply burst into song. But the legacy of A Star is Born has its own kind of suspension of disbelief: the notion that whatever legendary songstress that leads each version is some undiscovered talent. George Cukor’s 1954 version (the first to properly musicalize the story birthed in William A. Wellman’s 1937 original) requires the greatest leap. But there are few cinematic superstars in history as immediately convincing in their gifts as Judy Garland.
Casting such a powerhouse as a woefully undiscovered talent is absurd on paper, as if the film exists in some fantasy land where maybe she’s never
Meanwhile, Warner Bros launches its awards-season darling A Star Is Born, directed by, co-produced, co-written and starring Bradley Cooper alongside Lady Gaga in her first feature-leading role. It marks the fourth version of the movie after the 1937 William A. Wellman movie, the 1954 Judy Garland-James Mason musical, and the 1976 Barbra Streisand-Kris Kristofferson film which was a huge hit in its day, racking up $80M (unadjusted for inflation), the third-highest-grossing theatrical release that year.
For that and many more reasons (like a field that isn’t as competitive as usual), the lead actor Oscar race might be over and done with. Cooper is that good as the kind-hearted but haunted Jackson Maine, and the screenplay — from Cooper, Will Fetters, and Oscar winner Eric Roth — finely tunes his story, serving the character far better than any previous version of the tale has for Fredric March and James Mason’s Norman Maine, or Kris Kristofferson’s John Norman Howard.
That you can get two paragraphs into spelling out the virtues of this film
Films such as “Gravity,” “Birdman,” “Spotlight” and “La La Land” began their journeys in Venice, as did last year’s best picture victor, “The Shape of Water.” This year, the Lido will again host an early look at much of the season’s landscape.
Chief among the world premieres might be Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” with Lady Gaga, the third remake of William A. Wellman’s 1937 classic. Curiously, though, the film will not be screening in competition. And Warner Bros. has opted out of a presence for the
A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut starring Cooper and Lady Gaga, will have its world premiere out-of-competition at the 75th Venice International Film Festival (August 29 – September 8).
The film, co-written and produced by Cooper, will screen on Friday August 31 in the Sala Grande at the Palazzo del Cinema on the Venice Lido.
Featuring original songs performed by Cooper and Gaga, the musical drama is a remake of William A. Wellman’s 1937 film of the same name; it was previously remade in 1954 and 1976.
The love story follows musician Jackson Maine (Cooper
Bradley Cooper makes his directorial debut with the remake. Lady Gaga, on the other hand, stars in her first feature as an actress. She's acted previously in shows like American Horror Story, but this movie is going to ride or die based on her talents. This is also a big movie for Cooper to
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