|Kristofferson and Streisand|
Just as the 1954 A Star is Born was re-fashioned for the particular talents of Judy Garland, this 1976 version was a do-over geared for the appeal of Barbra Streisand and her fans, although it is much less successful than the Garland version. Esther Hoffman (Streisand) is working her way up through the club circuit when she meets rock star John Norman Howard (Kris Kristofferson), who is beginning a long slide due to his booze and drug-addled antics. [A bigger problem is that Howard/Kristofferson has a really awful voice.] Esther sings with two African-American women in a group called the Oreos [these two black singers aren't even given names!], but Howard insists on foisting her off as a soloist at one of his own concerts. It is unlikely that the audience, who'd come to hear a famous hard rocker, would have accepted Esther (who sings a complete piece of pop crap called "I Believe in Love") in the first place, but even more ridiculous is that it is clearly Streisand performing at this concert and not the less experienced Esther. Esther and Howard begin an ill-fated romance that leads to an unconvincing finale. Nasally-voiced Streisand is horrible as a rocker, and her acting performance isn't that great, either. It's hard to say if the laid-back Kristofferson is even acting, but since druggies so often do seem out of it, his listlessness may be appropriate. Gary Busey is good, as usual, as a colleague of Howard's. A funny scene has a young lady reporter who beds Howard asking Esther for an interview when she interrupts the two in the sack. The film ends with a long, long concert sequence sung by Streisand, of course. Streisand has made some good movies -- Yentl comes to mind -- but this isn't one of them. "Evergreen" was a hit song from this movie, and "Go to Hell" is a snappy number.
Verdict: Barbra's Vanity Project. **.