What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
The 1954 Judy Garland / James Mason version of this movie is on my list of essential films.
I’ve lost count of how many times this movie has been made, and under how many different titles and versions. The important part is the main plot line; an established star in decline discovers and up-and-coming young talent, fosters their “big break,” and completes said decline while their prodigy reaches the pinnacle of success.
Of course, it all starts with a movie which doesn’t even have the right title. You can call it whatever you like, but there’s really no debating that 1932’s “What Price Hollywood?” fits the aforementioned main plot.
Five years later, we get the first “A Star Is Born” featuring Janet Gaynor and Frederic March. 1954 brings us the Judy Garland/James Mason incarnation. The 1970’s bring us at least two more versions, the Barbra Streisand/Kris Kristofferson under the title we expect, and we would be remiss without mentioning Martin Scoresese’s “Broadway” rendition “New York, New York.” I’m positive one of my film blogging colleagues is going to point out another instance which I’ve missed, but that only serves to solidify my point.
Having said all that, there’s yet another version coming out soon. I have no idea where this one will fall in the spectrum in terms of quality. I don’t really have an opinion one way or another on Lady Gaga other than the fact that might be the stupidest name this side of “Fannie Flagg,” and I’m less than encouraged by what promises to be another “Meh” performance by the multi-talentless Bradley Cooper.
I guess it really doesn’t matter because the “curiosity” factor will kick-in; at some point I will need to know if Lady Dumb Name can “pull off” Judy Garland. I like her chances a lot more than Cooper’s; he couldn’t carry James Mason’s cummerbund.
And for what it’s worth, I didn’t like Frederic March either.
The Hidden Sports Analogy:
To me, this one is obvious. On the one hand, you have a story which has been told in several configurations, under various titles, and a multitude of tweaks, but at the end of the day, it is still really the same story. The comparison is the Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland again/Soon to be Las Vegas Raiders.
Think about it. While you are totaling up how many times “A Star is Born” has been made, look at all the various and sundry incarnations of the Raiders.
Version #1) The “San Francisco” Raiders (1960-1961)
At their 1960 American Football League inception, the Silver and Black didn’t even play in Oakland. In their first seasons, the Raiders played their home games in San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium in 1960, and in Candlestick Park in 1961. Because the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers were essentially their landlords, the Raiders weren’t treated very well as tenants and got screwed on the rent.
Version #2) The “Minnesota” Raiders
Raiders owners Al Davis and Chet Soda wanted to avoid playing home games in San Francisco so badly that at one point they threatened to move the team which hadn’t played a single game yet to the Twin Cities. This was where the brand new Met Stadium had just been built to lure major-league sports to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
The then-Chicago Cardinals were all set to move to Minnesota when St. Louis lured them to the even-newer Busch Stadium. Davis saw this as his chance to trade the Bay for the Lakes country, but the NFL did not want an AFL team there, so it created the expansion Minnesota Vikings in 1960, essentially forcing the Raiders to stay in the Bay Area.
Version #3) The “Bridesmaid” Oakland Raiders (1962 – 1975)
Once they found a home in Oakland, the Raiders spent the next decade-plus being a pretty damn good football team; they just couldn’t get to the top of the mountain. They lost Super Bowl II to the immortal Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers, and for the first half of the 1970s, dynasties like the Pittsburgh Steelers and/or the Miami Dolphins blocked the road to AFC supremacy.
Version #4) The “Kick Your Ass And Take Your Lunch Money” Oakland Raiders (1976-1981)
This is when they were the best team in football, and their roster was full of guys who looked more at home in a biker gang than on a football field. They won three Super Bowls in seven years, including a seal-clubbing of my Philadelphia Eagles.
Version #5) The “Kick Your Ass And Take Your Lunch Money” Los Angeles Raiders (1982)
The overlap with the previous version as the Raiders traded in the Bay Area for the City of Angels prior to the 1983 season. They won their last Super Bowl in their first year in Los Angeles, which drove them to go full “Hollywood” with guys like Howie Long and Lyle Alzado.
Version #6) The “James Garner” Los Angeles Raiders (1983-1990)
“Jim Rockford” was a huge Raiders fan, but even his best detective work couldn’t find a way for the Raiders to stop a slow decline away from their Super Bowl-winning form
Version #7) The “Defeat in the Snow” Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders (1991-1997)
In much the same way the Wehrmacht never recovered from their defeat at the gates of Moscow in 1941, the Raiders were never the same after getting a 51-3 seal-clubbing at the hands of the Buffalo Bills in the 1991 AFC Championship game, which ultimately led to their slow, defeated retreat to Oakland in 1995.
Version #8) The “Gruden I” Oakland Raiders (1998-2002)
Jon Gruden rebuilds the Raiders into a Super Bowl contender, but is traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a season prior to completing his work. His successor in Oakland Bill Callahan, takes the Gruden-built Raiders to the Super Bowl, where they get crushed by Gruden and the Buccaneers. By taking the Raiders to the Super Bowl, the University of Nebraska is convinced Callahan is a competent football coach, which he’s not. Callahan promptly implodes of the the traditional powers of college football, thus ensuring his being hated to this day by both Raider and Husker fans.
Version #9) The “North Korea” Oakland Raiders (2003-2018)
This marks the final decline of a once great franchise, largely because the man who built it slipped into isolationism and senility, then left everything to his weird-looking progeny.
Version #10) The “Gruden II” Oakland/soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders (2018 – ???)
This is the equivalent to the newest version of “A Star is Born” featuring Lady Dumb Name. We have no idea what it will look like, whether or not it will be any good, or how it will even work. What we do know is no matter how many versions of the Raiders there are, or how many times we remake this movie, they did it right once and should have stopped at that.
The Moral of the Story:
If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. We should have stood pat with the “Kick Your Ass and Take Your Lunch Money” Raiders and the 1954 version of “A Star is Born.”
And I still don’t like Frederic March.
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