Monday, October 8, 2018

A Bradley/Barbra Review Question

The newest incarnation of the classic Hollywood tale, A STAR IS BORN, now lights up movie screens.  The 1937 original and the 1954 musical remake, displaying Judy Garland's powerful dramatic skills, were Hollywood-on-Hollywood tales.  The 1976 hit remake with the unlikely duo of Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson transferred the drama from Hollywood studios to rock concerts.  The current version, starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, is also set in the world of rock music.
I love A STAR IS BORN.  The 1954 remake is one of my Top 5 favorite films of all time.  So, I've been anxious to read the reviews for this new version.  I happen to be a Lady Gaga fan and I've been rooting for her.  Well, overall, the reviews have been terrific.  I read a couple that threw in the word "masterpiece."  Much praise has gone to Bradley Cooper.  He plays the alcoholic male star who redeems himself by discovering a talented female newcomer, believing in her and guiding her to make her show biz dreams come true. Not only is he the male lead opposite Lady Gaga, he directed the film and directed Gaga to some very good reviews for her feature film debut.  On GOOD MORNING AMERICA, anchors Robin Roberts and Michael Strahan were sincerely in awe of Cooper's directorial debut.  Strahan commented that he couldn't believe it was Cooper's first time directing because he delivered such a polished, moving film.  On Twitter, actor Josh Gad wrote "Bradley Cooper is not only one of the finest stars around but now a bonafide director."  Entertainment reporter Dave Karger, now in the Caucasian quartet of hosts on cable's Turner Classic Movies, had Bradley Cooper as a guest on TCM to co-host the Oct. 7th airing of the 1954 A STAR IS BORN.  Karger gave viewers the vibe that Cooper should expect an Oscar nomination for Best Director and for Best Song.
For the first version, stars Janet Gaynor and Fredric March were in the Oscar race for Best Actress and Best Actor.  The same goes for Judy Garland and James Mason in the 1954 remake.  The 1976 remake received no Oscar nominations in the acting category but Barbra Streisand won a Best Song Oscar for co-writing "Evergreen," the hit love song from her version of A STAR IS BORN.
We will see if Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga get Oscar nominations for acting -- and/or Oscar nominations for Best Song. They both contributed to the film's new tunes.

My question is -- Did Barbra Streisand get this kind of praise when she starred in and gave us 1983's YENTL, her first time out as a film director?  That was 1983, when I was working in Milwaukee and just starting my TV career.  Streisand, by that time, had won a Best Actress Oscar for 1968's FUNNY GIRL and her Best Song Oscar for A STAR IS BORN.  I took a longtime friend as my guest to a preview screening of YENTL.  We were extremely impressed with and moved by Streisand's directorial debut.  And that was back when it was rare for a woman to be director of a major Hollywood release. At the end of YENTL, my friend Janet and I looked at each other and said, "That was really good!"

I added, "If Brian De Palma had directed that, critics would've highly praised it as a turning point in his career."

I can't recall male critics back then showering accolades on Barbra Streisand for her directorial debut the way male critics have today on Bradley Cooper.
Robert Redford directed 1980's ORDINARY PEOPLE. He won the Oscar for Best Director and the film won Best Picture.  Kevin Costner starred in and directed 1990's DANCES WITH WOLVES. He won the Oscar for Best Director and the film won Best Picture.  Mel Gibson starred in and directed 1995's BRAVEHEART. He won the Oscar for Best Director and the film won Best Picture.

Director/Actress Barbra Streisand followed YENTL with 1991's THE PRINCE OF TIDES, a hit film she starred in and also directed.  THE PRINCE OF TIDES got 7 Oscar nominations including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Picture.

With YENTL, Barbra Streisand joined "The Ida Lupino Club." She was a celebrated actress who became a film director and continued to act.  Others such as Penny Marshall and Jodie Foster are also in the club.

I'm pretty sure that Barbra Streisand has directed more actors to Oscar nominations than any other American female filmmaker:

Amy Irving, Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for YENTL
Nick Nolte, Best Actor Oscar nominee for THE PRINCE OF TIDES
Kate Nelligan, Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for THE PRINCE OF TIDES
Lauren Bacall, Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES.

Barbra Streisand has never been an Oscar nominee for Best Director.  If you've never seen YENTL, it's worth a look.  I hope to see the new A STAR IS BORN this week.  I'll let you know how it is.

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