Teaching philosophy. Words Matter. Writers Matter. Women Writers Matter and they’ve been far too often forgotten in history. So I love this movie to talk about because we’re going to talk about a very important female writer in Hollywood and yes this is coming out of practice for a chapter that I’m creating on this book on this movie and how it really relies on the female input to make it work in each of the iterations and we will see all of those women in all of those iterations and as Jacob mentioned we’ll notice the last movie is the only one without a female creative in the writing team which is interesting. Anyway, it all begins with Adela Rogers St Johns. She was a journalist out of San Francisco. She moved to Hollywood and she began to write short stories and sometimes scripts. She wrote mostly prose stories that were transformed into films. One of which is a thing called What Price Hollywood and it starred Constance Bennett who was a very very high-end female performer at the time and it’s a really interesting piece but it is not the first Star Is Born. There are parts of it that are similar and we will see the parts that change. She’s quite a fascinating person. If you ever want to read about her, she wrote a couple of memoirs and she used to appear in television shows. You can find her interviews on YouTube. She’s quite cool. She lived for a long time and she was the mother confessor to the stars of Hollywood because she wrote for the Hearst syndicate and so people in scandals would call her and say “you’ve got to come to my house and tell me how to deal with the press because they’re going to kill me because someone just died in my house” right? So she’s a pretty cool lady.
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Connections at conferences matter! Through the most recent SCMS, I met Vicki Callahan, whose film history focus right now is on Mabel Normand. When she learned I could put together a lecture on the importance of the female voice in the A Star is Born franchise she asked me to give that lecture to her master students.
It made for a great opportunity for me to hone the ideas I’m working on for a chapter on that franchise that I’m writing for a new book from Bloomsbury: The Bloomsbury Handbook Of International Screenplay Theory. It’s always nice when one piece of research can be purposed in other ways – and it’s always fun revisiting such a female-centric film franchise – one that drew the talents of such powerful performers as Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, and Lady Gaga.
Find out why in this lecture!