THIS is the fourth version of a story – star helps newcomer achieve fame – that is almost as old as the Hollywood sign. It has been told and retold by such talents as Judy Garland, James Mason, Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. On the writing front, Joan Didion and Dorothy Parker, no less, have worked on the various screenplays.

To choose A Star is Born for your directorial debut, therefore, is a bit like saying you would like a crack at remaking The Godfather. It is a huge risk, but I’m very glad Bradley Cooper took it, because this is wonderful.

The music is terrific, the performances first class, and, best of all, an acting star is born in Lady Gaga, who plays Ally, the ingenue to Cooper’s ageing rocker, Jackson Maine.

Post-gig and in search of a bar one night he stumbles across a place where Ally is singing. A waitress by day, she once dreamed of making it in the music business, only to be told that she sounded the part but her looks, and that nose in particular, did not fit.

Maine likes the look of Ally just fine, but it is her voice that brings tears to his eyes. While the amount of booze he has downed before, during, and after his own gig could explain his weepy ways, a connection seems to have been made. Off the two go into the night to talk about music, the past, the future, and, yes, her nose. Such is the spark between them that his jokingly running a finger down her nose is electrifying.

“You are a sweetheart,” says Ally, and he is. Bearded and scruffy, his face gleaming with sweat and booze, Maine has left attractively grizzled behind and is heading straight for addled. When the night ends with his brother (Sam Elliott) putting him to bed, all the signs are there that this man, who seems to have everything, is a troubled soul.

During Ally and Maine’s evening together, the screenplay by Oscar-winning Eric Roth (Forrest Gump), Cooper, and Will Fetters, delivers the first of several riffs on talent. Anyone can have it, says Maine; the difference between good and great is having something authentic to say, and doing it in a way that connects with people. Ally’s father (Andrew Dice Clay, providing more than a few laughs with his driver buddies), also reckons talent alone is not enough. Wasn’t he as good as Sinatra once?

Ally shifts between being clear-eyed about Maine (“He’s a drunk”) and dazzled by the attention and trappings of his success, private jet included. She loves the chance he gives her, bringing her on stage one night to sing her song, and making her a YouTube sensation, and she loves him, too. As he retreats further into pills and drink her star begins to climb.

A 2018 version of A Star is Born might have tried to be more ambitious by reversing the roles and having an older woman and a younger man. Hollywood is not quite ready to go that far, however. The story itself is familiar bordering on cheesy.

Yet such is the warmth and heart in Cooper’s film one is ready to forgive it pretty much anything. As a director he is astonishingly confident, handling the big, set piece scenes at concerts as effectively as he does more intimate moments. Crucially, he takes what Maine is going through seriously. This may be a romance played out to music, but Cooper sees nothing romantic in the disease of alcoholism.

Add to this mix some terrific songs and another outstanding performance from Elliott, and you begin to get a sense of the picture as an old fashioned crowd-pleaser. That is before Cooper and Lady Gaga do their thing.

She is a natural before the camera, dialling down her outlandish pop persona to a peep. As for Cooper, it is easy to forget that the blue-eyed charmer from The Hangover is also the four-times Oscar nominated actor from American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook. His talent for writing and directing has been hiding in plain sight. After this five-star treat of a picture, consider the secret out.