A Star is Born and Dies

Hollywood has a tortured history of portraying itself on screen.  From Ella Cinders in 1926 or Merton of the Movies (1924 and the 1941 remake) or What Price Hollywood (1932) to Sunset Boulevard (1950), you get all kinds of views on fame and the effects on the human spirit. 

A Star is Born has now been made and remade four times.  The William Wellman film in 1937, the 1954 Cukor version starring Judy Garland and James Mason, the 1976 version starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson and now the latest brought to the screen by Bradley Cooper and starring Lady Gaga.  It is a tale that adapts itself to generation after generation.  A tale of strength, tenderness, romance and tragedy.  It is a kind of film Hollywood rarely takes on today.  I'm glad they did no matter how many times it has been remade.

For me, still, the best of the versions is the 1937 directed by William Wellman.  The performances of Janet Gaynor and Fredric March stand the test of time.  I thought of this film today with the passing of writer/chef/ambassador of the human condition Anthony Bourdain.  He was not a man of glamour, tough as nails, his own life hardened by his own travails.  He was an arrogant badass on the outside and I suspect a softie inside.  His curiosity, his ability to reach out to observe and participate in the lives of people across the globe with empathy and respect remain a beacon we can all follow.  His adventure with food is legendary.  What remains with me is through his television shows over three networks was his innate ability to connect with people of all walks of life, in every country.  He was snarky and no bullshit, but, over time he had mellowed.

He said on his show numerous times how much he loved the Vietnamese people and the food of Vietnam.  It was one of his favorite countries to visit. I will likely never visit the steamy hot climate of Vietnam, I looked forward to his visits there to learn more and travel vicariously.  I will celebrate his life enjoying a Bahn Mi or my favorite dish of Bun Cha with grilled pork.  I love Vietnamese food, too. 

Bourdain breakfast in Vietnam

He was in the envious position to be a guest programmer on TCM and met Robert Osborne.  I hope his love of cinema was something he might have shared with his young daughter. 

Suicide is a very lonely end.  No matter how successful you may be, who knows about the thief inside who tells you this is the best way to leave?  If you are alone, need a voice, need help, here is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

Hollywood has witnessed a number of suicides in real life.  On film some suicides were portrayed poignantly, never more so than in this film.  The departed remembered with love.  Because, we all must go on.  Sadly, today minus a very good one.


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