The original – a non-musical telling of the self-destructing Norman Maine (Fredric March – The Best Years of Our Lives, Anthony Adverse) and the woman he plucks from obscurity.
An alcoholic movie star, Maine stumbles across the young and naive Esther Blodgett (Janet Gaynor – Sunrise, Street Angel). With a name change to Vicki Lester and support from Maine and the studio, the new star’s career is in its ascedency at the same time her new husband’s alcoholism contributes to a serious decline in his.
Surprisingly little of the overall narrative has changed in the subsequent remakes (1954, 1976, 2018) with the exception of the Vicki Lester character and her singing voice. Directed by William A Wellman (Wings, The Ox-bow Incident), this earliest version is honest story telling with reliable, solid performances.
Nominated for 7 Oscars in 1938 including best film, director, actress and actor – won 1 for best original story plus Honorary Oscar to cinematographer W Howard Greene.