A Star Is Born appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Star provided a consistently good visual experience.
Sharpness looked pretty solid. A little softness affected some close-ups, a fact I’d guess came from “glamour” photographic techniques. Those created minor concerns, as overall, the movie was concise and accurate. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and I also detected no signs of edge enhancement. Despite the age of the movie, it seemed surprisingly free of defects. A little natural grain appeared, and a smattering of specks manifested themselves, but these weren’t a serious issue.
Colors stood out as positive. Within the production design, the hues came across as rich and distinct. I noticed no issues related to bleeding, noise, or other concerns, as the tones were lively and dynamic. Black levels were deep and rich, while shadow detail looked clean and clear. The image wasn’t flawless, but it looked quite good.
As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of A Star Is Born, it presented a distinct series of highs and lows. On the positive side, much of the music sounded absolutely great. The tunes boasted good stereo imaging, and they often showed solid dynamics. Though a few of the numbers were a little lackluster, most demonstrated quite fine clarity and range. The music acted as the clear highlight of the mix.
As for the negatives, I’d focus on everything else. Speech tended to be dinky and distant. I often found it tough to hear what the actors said and found the quality of the lines to seem thin at best.
Effects fell into the same lines, as those elements were wan and without much definition. Since they played a small role in the proceedings, that wasn’t as much of an issue as the poor speech, though. Effects usually stayed focused on the front center, though some elements like crowd noise spread to the rear.
Other than the music, this wasn’t an ambitious mix. And other than the music, this wasn’t a good mix. The high-quality tunes earned a “B+” but the rest fell into “D+” range, so I ended up with an overall “C+”.
A mix of extras fills out the set. The prime attraction comes from an audio commentary with actor/producer Barbra Streisand. She offers a running, screen-specific discussion. Streisand covers how she got into the project and her role behind the scenes, casting and the other actors, music and performances, cinematography, editing and costumes.
Quite a few good notes emerge here. We learn how Elvis almost played the John Norman Howard role, and her insights about her hatred of lip-synching are nice. However, a few flaws mar the program. The main issue stems from the many long gaps that appear. There’s lots of dead air on display, and that makes the track tough to take at times.
In addition, Streisand devotes much of the discussion to the Woes of Fame. She often notes how difficult it is to be a star, and she really sounds whiny. I understand her complaints but geez, she’s been a major star for four decades, and I’d think she’d be over all these issues by now. I can’t imagine hearing McCartney or Jagger gripe like this. Streisand manages to provide some nice notes, but the mix of drawbacks makes this an erratic commentary.
We hear more from Babs during three minutes and six seconds of Wardrobe Tests. Streisand narrates the otherwise silent footage and gives us some notes on what we see. The footage is moderately interesting as it shows ideas for outfits, and Streisand’s remarks add a few useful bits of info.
12 Deleted Scenes run a total of 16 minutes and 12 seconds. Most of these pad out the John/Esther relationship, and virtually all of them seem redundant. We get the needed information in the final film, so none of this material would have contributed to matters. One annoyance: the DVD doesn’t present them in a logical order, so we don’t see them as they would have come in the movie.
You will find unintentional comedy, though. We get alternate angles of the movie’s concluding musical performance. Streisand’s insanely emotive rendition of the tune is bad enough via the straight on take in the flick, but here we see her go fully epileptic. The horror! The horror!
We can watch these with or without commentary from Streisand. She offers a few general notes about the clips and usually tells us why they got cut. Nothing essential appears, but the remarks fill out matters acceptably well.
Finally, the disc presents three trailers. We discover promos for the 1937, 1954 and 1976 versions of Star.
Back in the Seventies, many regarded the 1976 A Star Is Born as a misfire, and nothing has changed perceptions over the last 30 years. Tedious, boring and bloated, the flick exists as a love letter to its star and nothing more. The DVD presents pretty solid picture and erratic audio as well as a few interesting extras. Leave this clunker for die-hard Streisand fans. If you don’t love her already, you won’t find any reason to dig her here.