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Proof Positive of Cocaine's Influence on Hollywood

Finally saw this movie for the first time for the only time. I can certainly see why others like it, it's very stylized (the wardrobe/sets were excellent--there are so many plunging necklines on Babs and this is a good 10 YEARS after she had her son, talk about an amazing body! Who knew!) and there's some genuinely good stuff here (the scene where Kris Kristofferson realizes his band has moved on without him is such a killer and so well done) but it's all so loosely strewn together/coke fueled you just can't call this a great film.

First of all there's little to no explanation as to why Kris Kristofferson's character just all of a sudden decides showbiz isn't for him, that he'd rather obsessively stalk/manage the career of Babs' character. This movie would have benefited with another 10 minutes in the beginning focusing on John Norman Howard and the rigors of his superfamous lifestyle and it wouldn't have killed them to cut down on the stock footage of the ridiculously large concert crowd. I think they tried to use the latter to establish the former but you end up seeing the two as separate because John Norman only plunks down to sing after we've lost interest in the heaving hordes.

Suddenly we're catapulted into the relationship of John Norman and Esther (yeah, um, no that would never ever happen. Talented or no we'll never see an Esther live in concert) and slowly the obsessor becomes the obsessee. This is a bit more believable but as others have pointed out there's some crazy sequences where these *beep* start screwing around with backhoes and dunebuggying etc.

In the last stage Babs has become the superstar "Esther" who has long since surpassed John Norman and he finally gets his wish and kills himself. Apparently there was some argument over whether or not he should commit suicide or have "an accident" and I think the filmmakers kind of wussed out and landed somewhere in the middle. It would have been a lot more poignant had he committed suicide because it would have spoken more to the self-destructive nature and ultimately incurable depression that John Norman suffered as a result of his meteoric rise to fame.

I can't help but compare this to another Seventies coke binge called "All That Jazz" that I recently saw for the first time for the last time. Both are these remarkably fast paced 3 hour epic-type films but they are all over the map man! If you were to sit and try to explain all the crap that takes place to someone who hasn't seen the film ("Wait, you mean there's a whole musical number with the daughter and live-in girlfriend for no reason whatsoever? Wait half of the dance movie takes place in a hospital ward?!""What are you saying? The DJ that a made a few cameos in the film suddenly worships the star he detested throughtout?""Wait Babs starts yammering on about having a baby in one scene 2/3rds of the way through and then they never talk about it again?!") they'd think you were snorting coke. Maybe that's how one can truly enjoy these films. One of you go buy a few grams and find out.


I can understand a lot of your comments regarding this film. This film was a real mess mainly due to that old addage, "Too many cooks spoil the broth." Even though Frank Pierson is billed onscreen as director, final say on everything where this film is concerned went to Streisand and her then boyfriend, future movie mogul Jon Peters, who, at this time, knew nothing about making movies but was given a lot of power over what happened in the making of this film purely out of his relationship with Streisand. Babs and Peters fought with Pierson over everything and Peters did not get along with Kristofferson at all. You've probably heard the famous remark that Kristofferson made to Peters on set one day: "If I want any more "sh*t out of you, I'll squeeze your head." I don't think John Norman was initially interested in managing Esther's career until his career began to take a nosedive. His appearances were costing promoters so much money that no one wanted to book John Norman anymore and that's why he had so much free time around the time he met Esther. And yes, Streisand was adamantly against John Norman committing suicide and wanted him to die accidentally, but the way his death is filmed, you really can't tell the difference. I think John Norman dying accidentally changes the whole point of the original story. I also agree that Esther's rise to fame happened way too fast and made no sense and I also agree that you would never see a singer like Esther doing live outdoor concerts like she is puctured doing here. I don't know how much cocaine was around during the making of this film, but Kristofferson was definitely doing his share, that's for sure. A lot of what you see in the finished product of this film is what happens when three egos crash and burn in the middle of a movie set. Nobody wins...especially us.



Fingertyps I'm gonna have to counter your argument that this couldn't take place today with a little David O. Russell. I love his movies but maybe someone needs to give him a much deserved kick in the a##.


Excellent posts...I haven't seen this movie in 33 years but that's exactly how I remember it - a huge, enjoyable, all over the shop mess. I especially get the beef about the crowd scenes. I remember thinking So Obviously Fake, decades before that saying had even been invented. And I remember asking myself "Does this band only know one song, twenty seconds long? Watch clooosely noooow....."

But I have happy memories of it. I was with my then new girlfriend, now wife, and we cried our eys out. Every so often on the bus on the way home I'd say to her "...and the way his little foot stuck out from under the blanket..." (on the ambulance stretcher) and she'd start wailing again. Boy, nowadays the only way I can make her cry is hide the whiskey bottle.

(Just joking dear)

My body makes no moan
But sings on:
All things remain in God.


Haven't seen this since it came out but it remains in my memory as one of the worst-crafted mainstream Hollywood features ever. Just aimless, indulgent and inept. The soundtrack was better--and even it wasn't very good!


Oh, come on, it wasn't even close to being that bad. In ways it's quite good. Yes, there are too-many Streisand performances and the songs are merely serviceable, but the story's not aimless: One "star" is waning and spirals to self-destruction while the other "star" is rising and has the smarts to not allow the biz to destroy her.


"All That Jazz" was a self autobiographical story directed by Bob Fosse. Much of if plays like a fantasy and is done that way to represent his lifestyle during the period depicted in the film. It's very unfortunate that you compare that critically acclaimed film to A Star is born, 1 is a masterpiece, the latter is crap


"All That Jazz" is a near masterpiece, and proof positive that seslf-destructive lifestyles aren't totally incompatible with real art.

Now if you want to see a movie that REALLY shows what coke can do to the decision-making process of some people, check out "Xanadu" from 1980 (or so). It's a movie musical where most of the big musical numbers are set on an empty, dark, soundstage when is supposed to represent a cavernous night club, because apparently they spent most of the money intended for production design on coke.