The 1954 musicalized version of A Star Is Born is a great film. Judy Garland and James Mason both Oscar nominated turn in terrific performance as Esther and Norman. Like its 1937 predecessor which starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric Marchboth Oscar nominated , the 1954 version follows the ups and down of two people set against the vicious world of Hollywood. The newer version sticks to the basic story but adds some great numbers for Garland, including "The Man That Got Away" and "I Was Born in a Trunk." In a major comeback, Garland had not worked in films since Summer <more>
Stock 1950 , and her performance here is the best of her career. That she lost the Oscar to Grace Kelly for The Country Girl is one of Hollywood's great inequities. Mason lost to Marlon Brando for On the Waterfront. Garland sings superbly and is a great comic and dramatic actress. Her Esther is more vulnerable than Gaynor's just as Mason's Norman is more pathetic than March's. I love both versions. Charles Bickford and Jack Carson play the other major parts, played by Adolphe Menjou and Lionel Stander in 1937. Two major supporting roles from the 1937 version were cut from the 1954 version: Esther's first Hollywood friend Andy Devine and her intrepid grandmother the great May Robson . But Garland's musical numbers make up for their absence. Oddly, despite the great hullabaloo surrounding A Star Is Born, it was not nominated for best picture, and George Cukor was bypassed in the directing category. One of the best musicals ever made.
A Savage Story, Made Perfect in its Restored Version. (by nycritic)
The year 1954 proved to be one of the professional best for Judy Garland, as she did an outstanding comeback in A STAR IS BORN, a part that if not meant for her originally when the first version of this movie was filmed as WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD? 1932 , was the one which she made her own and to this day is the most referred to and remembered for the sheer emotional honesty and power to which acted the part of Esther Blodgett. That is was not awarded by the Academy in favor for a more "correct" acting by Grace Kelly is one of those great injustices that has been done, and that its <more>
competition with ON THE WATERFRONT was too tight to garner it any of the major awards was just bad timing on its release today the results would have been different, dividing the awards , but time has eventually healed these major slips -- at least on Judy Garland's favor, the greater of the two actresses by a long shot -- and as a movie, it still holds up today in its poignant portrayal of a marriage destroyed by alcoholism and the coldness of the media closely watching its disintegration.Originally at 154 minutes, the restored, 179 minute version is the best to watch because it does effectively tie up some plot holes and the way Mason's character eventually meets up with Garland's who is wondering if he was serious about making her a star -- the transition in the first, cut version would have been too easy and unbelievable, a borderline fairytale. Both Garland and Mason tackle difficult parts flawlessly without going over the top in histrionics but giving both their characters a painful, human dignity that should not have been lost on the Academy even then, and Mason's descent into alcoholism and later, self-sacrificial suicide is one of the most heartbreaking ever committed on film, even if in reality, it was Garland who was the ravaged, addicted star.
Alcoholic movie star Norman Maine James Mason meets singer Esther Blodgett Judy Garland and gets her the screen test she needs to become a big star and change her name to Vicki Lesterhas any name ever so desperately needed changing? .This was not my first viewing of A Star Is Born, but it was illuminating. I certainly already believed it was a great movie, but it is far more subtle and complex than I had previously known. The movie is working on several levels at once. In one way, it's a straight-ahead musical, with some wonderful songs and production numbers. At another level, <more>
it's an 'inside Hollywood' story, and that level works remarkably well. Some of the 'events' the opening, the Academy Awards look almost raw in their filming style, almost like news footage, creating a powerful impression of being behind the scenes. The production numbers support that impression, with numerous bits and visuals lifted from other musicals, so that we are clued into the idea that we are seeing what "really" happened, or might have happened, on any number of film sets at one point, An American in Paris is referenced directly .Finally, it is a remarkably honest and true portrayal of alcoholism and marriage to an alcoholic. Esther's co-dependence is seen for what it is, her pain is real, her self-flagellation is real. If anything, the movie is overly sympathetic with Norman Maine, portraying the publicist Jack Carson who is disgusted with him as a villain. When I saw A Star Is Born for the first time, I was in *my* one and only relationship with an alcoholic. I wept with Judy Garland and I knew firsthand how accurately her agony was depicted. All these years later, quite recovered from any desire to go THERE again, I sympathize almost as much with the publicist. Kick the bum out! A few weeks ago I saw the train wreck that is New York, New York. It seemed like Scorcese's intention was to deconstruct, while at the same time celebrating, the 40s Hollywood musical. He wanted to show the ugliness behind those magical romances, the meanness behind those amusingly bossy men, and he still wanted to enjoy the glamour. Upon re-viewing A Star Is Born, I wondered why he bothered. It's already been done, as well as could possibly be done.
Michael Arick or Tommy Will You Ever Turn Over Your Print? (by Sober-Friend)
This is a great film. Yes it is long. Yes some of the songs should have been cut but they weren't but we get a masterpiece anyway.In this film Esther Blodgett is a talented aspiring singer with a band, and Norman Maine is a former matinee idol with a career in the early stages of decline. When he arrives intoxicated at a function at the Shrine Auditorium, the studio publicist attempts to keep him away from reporters. After an angry exchange, Norman rushes away and bursts onto a stage where an orchestra is performing. Esther takes him by the hand and pretends he is part of the act, thereby <more>
turning a potentially embarrassing and disruptive moment into an opportunity for the audience to greet Norman with applause.Norman then takes Esther under his wing and gets her a screen test at the studio in which he works. She ends up homecoming a major star and his drinking escalates! After the film was released Warner Brothers recalled the prints. 30 minutes were edited out. In 1983 Ron Haver was able to restore most of the film. Where he could not find footage for the missing scenes he used productions stills. People claim this halts the picture. It doesn't! Besides it only last a total of 7 minutes. It is not 7 minutes all at once! Now in 2010 it was reported that film restorer Michael Arick had a print of this film. He will not let Warner Brothers use the print. Some people claim that he doesn't have a print however "He has never publicly denied it". It is also Rumored that Tommy from Beverly Hills has hours of the films outtakes on VHS however it is silent footage. Maybe it might include the missing 7 minutes.
Garland's Shining Hour in a Pristine Print of Her Legendary Vehicle (by EUyeshima)
Marked by a pervasive sense of melancholy, the 1954 musical version of the familiar Hollywood warhorse will forever be remembered as Judy Garland's most acclaimed work in films. Even though she would go on to a handful of films in the early 1960's, this was her last leading role in a major Hollywood production, an ironic point since she plays an emerging movie star on the rise. True, she doesn't look her best in the film, but her fulsome talent is on full, heart-wrenching display as Esther Blodgett, an obscure but thriving band singer who becomes movie star Vicki Lester thanks to <more>
Norman Maine, an alcoholic has-been movie star in career free-fall. Their love story and the opposing trajectories of their careers are tracked meticulously by Moss Hart's shrewdly observed screenplay and George Cukor's sensitive direction.The double-sided 2000 DVD provides the 176-minute restored version, which is just five minutes less than what was shown at the original premiere. Until 1983, the half-hour of footage excised after the premiere was thought lost, but film historian Ron Haver found much of it and supervised an extraordinary restoration effort that includes a necessary albeit brief use of production stills to match up with the complete soundtrack. Even with such technicalities, the resulting film is even more of a landmark musical drama, emotionally resonant in spite of certain pacing issues with the storyline. Cukor's approach is probably more leisurely than the relatively hard-boiled material requires since he includes so many establishing and lengthy shots, but his direction shows his legendary sensitivity toward actors.While he comes across a bit too robust as a fading matinée idol, James Mason vigorously captures Norman's scornful pride and self-pity. He may lack Fredric March's innate sense of vulnerability in the original, but Mason makes the character's inner torment more palpable. As for Garland, she brings so much of her own history to Esther/Vicki that her scenes feel alive with her vibrant, masochistic personality. She is aided immeasurably by the masterful songs of Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin, most significantly her torchy rendition of "The Man That Got Away", as perfect a musical movie moment as has been ever produced. While her work in the fifteen-minute "Born in the Trunk" sequence is impressive, it is really later in the film when she soars, in particular, when she segues from the tap-happy "Lose That Long Face" into a breakdown scene in her dressing room with sympathetic studio head Oliver Niles portrayed with his typically stentorian fervor by Charles Bickford.The print condition and sound quality on the DVD are superb. There are also some fascinating extras on the B-side starting with three alternative takes on "The Man That Got Away", each distinctive in presentation with costume and lighting changes, a must for Garland fans. Also included is a very brief deleted number within the "Born in the Trunk" sequence", "When My Sugar Walks Down the Street". Three vintage pieces have been gathered - a brief newsreel piece of the premiere, a four-minute clip of the Coconut Grove premiere party held after the premiere, and most interestingly, a half-hour kinescope akin to the current-day red carpet pre-shows with an amazing parade of period stars expressing little more than good wishes on their way to the theater. Lastly, the theatrical trailers for all three versions of "A Star Is Born" are also included.
Some films just complete the experience (by uwantsun)
...and STAR is one of them.What an enormous talent... She was playing against herself the whole way through... More autobiographical than she ever could know...And only Frances - Judy - could do it.It took along time for me to see this, passing on most musicals as I tend to do. But, I understand it better, than if I'd ever had seen it earlier in my life.
Sing Melancholy Baby (by Lechuguilla)
Is it possible to watch this fictional story without digressing to thoughts about the real life story of Judy Garland? For me it isn't. Both are permanently intertwined. And it's not just the parallel between fiction and fact, but also the dark, brooding, melancholy mood they engender, like ghosts calling out to us from a Hollywood that no longer exists.The film's storyline is well known. I won't belabor it here, except to say that it communicates an honest and introspective indictment of the entertainment industry as it once was. The story can be thought of as a kind of <more>
archetypal Hollywood memoir, expressed as a musical.But musicals are supposed to be upbeat, lighthearted, fun. This one isn't. Moments of humor and joy are swept away in a cascade of emotional pain and tragedy. Fiction mimics real life. How appropriate that the film's signature song "The Man That Got Away" is one that is so uncompromisingly serious, poignant, and smoldering ... a perfect vehicle for Judy Garland.Some say she had the greatest singing voice of any entertainer in the twentieth century. This film lends credence to that assertion. Every song she sings is performed with such consummate verve, such emotional commitment that she seems to be singing not just for her contemporaries, but also for generations to come. Indeed, she is. My personal favorite is the "Born In A Trunk" segment, all fifteen minutes of it. Surrounded by sets of true cinematic art, she belts out one tune after another, including, of course, the poignant "Melancholy Baby".Judy's singing and the music itself are what make the movie so memorable. But she also demonstrates her considerable acting talent. And the acting of other cast members is fine, especially the performances of James Mason and Jack Carson. I do think that the film was, and still is, too long, the result of an overly ambitious screenplay.That Judy Garland was denied the Best Actress Oscar is poignant. But her talent was so massive, her uniqueness was so special, maybe fate required a compensatory level of pain and tragedy, as a prerequisite of legend.
Make sure to watch the Widescreen Version! (by heatmise)
In a career of classic performances this may be Judy Garland's best role and one that certainly uses her many talents to the hilt. James Mason gives an Oscar caliber performance as well and I believe in almost any other year that he wasn't up against Brando's "On the Waterfront" performance he would and should have won. This George Cukor film features gorgeous color and beautiful cinematography, but does suffer from choppy editing that may be the result of restored footage. The project to restore over an hour of missing footage scrapped by the producers after the <more>
original length was in excess of four and a half hours may have been done with the best intentions, but is still incomplete and leaves the film disjointed and obviously lacking. I certainly wish the original footage was never scrapped, but this spotty attempt at restoration makes you feel like your watching more of a project than a classic film. Sometimes less is more and definitely in this case. Whatever you do make sure you see the widescreen version of this film that was originally shot in Cinemascope or you will only see about a third of the actual picture and I assure you, you won't want to miss any of it.
Exceptional...but so was the 1937 version of this film! (by MartinHafer)
Note: This review is for the reassembled version of the film shown recently on Turner Classic Movies. It seemed that Warner Brothers Studio decided to severely trim the film partly to squeeze in more shows in a given day! and threw away the edited film stock! However, the sound track remained and so for a few minor scenes, stills were inserted in this restored version as the sound fills in the rest! This is an odd film for me to watch because I almost always hate seeing remakes--and this is a remake of the 1937 Janet Gaynor film. It's also odd because the Academy chose to nominate it <more>
for six awards--and that certainly is not something you expect for a remake--especially since the original film was brilliant. Currently the original has an overall rating of 7.7 and this remake a 7.8, if you care about that sort of thing.When this movie begins, you can see an obvious difference between the 1930s and 50s versions. The original suffers from poor color--mostly because Technicolor was new and not completely perfected. Whereas the 1950s version uses CinemaScope--a color system that looks even better than real life. Sure, the colors are very, very intense but they make for a lovely film! One other obvious difference between the films is the musical angle. Miss Gaynor was not a singer and her version has her portraying an actress--and she looks more suited to the role due to her looking much younger. However, as Judy Garland was a great singer, her Esther Blodgett was changed to a singer AND movie star--and the film is much more like a musical. If you love musicals, this is an exceptional one--though I really thought all the singing and dancing got in the way of the plot on occasion. Because of this, the 1930s version is easier to watch. I'm not a huge fan of Garland's singing, so my nod would go to the less musical version---but I could really see Garland fans ADORING this film--you get to see and hear A LOT of her and this is one of her last performances where she has her 'A-game'--she sings her heart out. Sadly, drugs would take a severe toll on her acting and singing in later films. Even sadder is that MGM doctors apparently were responsible for getting her hooked on these drugs, as the studio gave her amphetamines in order to increase her film output!! Poor thing-- she certainly deserved better and she did look a bit old for this role she looked much older than 32 --most likely due to these drugs.Despite lacking originality, you can't help but enjoy this film. Sure Hollywood didn't NEED to remake the original it was a great film , but end result is wonderful and different enough that it can be appreciated on its own merits. The acting and direction are lovely and the story, even if it's been done before, was very good and full of charm. The same, by the way, cannot be said of the yechy remake from the 1970s which starred Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Now THAT was a dreadful film! By the way, although Miss Garland is known mostly for this film and "The Wizard of Oz", try watching her in "The Clock"--a 'small' film that is just marvelous and highly underrated.Also, it's amusing that the in the film the studio moguls hate her given name Esther Blodgett . The same was true in real life for Garland, as her actual given name was Frances Gumm!