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Show Notes: Episode 15 – Frank Pierson’s A Star Is Born (1976)


Read the New West article “My Battles With Barbra and Jon” by director Frank Pierson. A riveting read full of interesting facts with very healthy amounts of rumours and innuendo. Who you believe may come down to where you sit on the Streisand Scale.

Check out Pauline Kael’s full, five-page review of the film. You may disagree, you may agree, but either way you’ll appreciate the way she puts her thoughts into words.

We’ve spoken a lot recently about gender inequality in Hollywood, and in this episode we specifically discuss changes in the acceptance of gender roles due to Barbra Streisand’s producing, writing and directing. She won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Evergreen” from this movie, the first time a female had won that award as a composer. Her role in changing gender stereotypes cannot be understated, but there is still immense work to be done.

Zohar Altman David wrote specifically about Streisand in his research paper for Tel Aviv University, “The star as a Creation and the Star as a creator: The case of Barbra Streisand”.


[Click here to see full, high resolution version.]

In 1985 a cartoonist named Alison Bechdel wrote and illustrated a strip from her “Dykes to Watch Out For” series which included a ‘rule’ first posited by her friend Liz Wallace. It became known as the Bechdel Test, and started being used to judge the equality of acting roles for women. There’s three features of the rule, and to pass a film must meet all of them: first, the film must have two named female characters; second, those female characters must talk to each other; third, that conversation must not be about a man.

Does A Star Is Born pass The Bechdel Test? Unfortunately, that’s a big no. There’s only one named female character, and that’s Esther.

Check out if your favourite films pass The Bechdel Test.

Going back through our own archives, here’s how the films profiled so far by Celluloid Junkies performed on the test:

Film Pass/Fail (Score)
John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) Fail (0/3)
Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973) Pass
Peter Weir’s Fearless (1993) Pass
John Landis’ An American Werewolf In London (1981) Fail (2/3)
Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas (1990) Pass
William Friedkin’s The French Connection (1971) Fail (1/3)
Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler (2008) Fail (1/3)
Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) Pass
Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) Pass
Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962) Pass
John Huston’s Key Largo (1948) Fail (1/3)
Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) Pass
George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Pass
Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist (1982) Pass
Darren Aronofsky’s mother! (2017) Pass
Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971) Pass


If you want to follow us on Letterboxd as well, we’re always logging and rating films we’ve been watching and occasionally Luke will do some pretty in-depth reviews, too.
Luke Kane: http://www.letterboxd.com/overbreakfast/
Damien Heath: http://www.letterboxd.com/jedikaos/

Thanks again for checking out Celluloid Junkies. We’ll see you next month with a close-up, in depth look at Lynne Ramsay’s adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s best-selling novel “We Need to Talk About Kevin”.

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