A neighbor of mine, an avid filmgoer, was surprised to learn that the current Bradley Cooper-Lady Gaga movie A Star Is Born is a remake of an earlier film (in fact, this is the third official take on the story). Variety asked me to look at the music of the prior films: the 1937 original with its Max Steiner score; the 1954 edition starring Judy Garland, with its Oscar-nominated song “The Man That Got Away”; and the 1976 version with Barbra Streisand and its Oscar-winning love theme “Evergreen.” I talked to historian Leonard Maltin, Garland expert John Fricke and songwriter Paul Williams for this fun assignment, which was even deemed one of a handful of Star Is Born-related pieces most “worth reading” by The New York Times.
Oscar-winning songwriter Paul Williams asked me to join him on stage for a screening of The Great Escape as part of The Elmer Bernstein Memorial Film Series at the stunning, restored Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara, Calif. It was great fun talking about the composer as well as director John Sturges’ 1963 POW film with its now classic theme (a smart-aleck march suggested by Steve McQueen’s character). After the film, we did an informal Q&A for an invited audience that included Elmer’s widow Eve and three of his children.