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.
- “Inequality in 700 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race, & LGBT Status from 2007 to 2014” research paper from the University of Southern California
- “How to reduce sexism in screenplays”
- “The dollars-and-cents case against Hollywood’s exclusion of women”
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”.
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.
- “The Bechdel Rule, defining pop-culture character”
- Five Thirty Eight, one of our favourite political blogs, looks at a possible “Next Bechdel Test”, putting fifty films through the wringer to see how many are gender-balanced
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:
|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”.