A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born

Judy Garland
Director: George Cukor Cast: Judy Garland
Judy Garland
, James Mason
James Mason
, Jack Carson
Jack Carson
George Cukor


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The 1954 musical remake of A Star is Born could have been titled A Star is Reborn, in that it represented the triumphal return to the screen of Judy Garland after a four-year absence. The remake adheres closely to the plotline of the 1937 original: An alcoholic film star, on his last professional legs, gives a career boost to a unknown aspiring actress. The two marry, whereupon her fame and fortune rises while his spirals sharply downward. Unable to accept this, the male star crawls deeper into the bottle. The wife tearfully decides to give up her own career to care for her husband. To spare her this fate, the husband chivalrously commits suicide. His wife is inconsolable at first, but is urged to go "on with the show" in memory of her late husband. In the original, Janet Gaynor played Esther Blodgett, who with no training or contacts came to Hollywood hoping for stardom. The remake, scripted by Moss Hart, is a shade more realistic: Garland's Esther, though far removed from fame, is a working professional singer/dancer when first we meet her. Both Gaynor and Garland are transformed from "Esther Blodgett" to "Vicki Lester" after being screen-tested, though Gaynor goes on to star in fluffy costume dramas while Garland more logically headlines big-budget musicals. The 1937 Star is Born costarred Fredric March as Norman Maine, Esther/Vicki's sponsor-cum-spouse. March patterned his performance after the tragic John Barrymore, reining in his emotions in favor of pure technique; James Mason's interpretation is more original, more emotional, and far more effective (who can forget the scene where Norman sobbingly overhears Vicki planning to give up her career for his sake?) As the studio's long-suffering publicist, the 1937 version's Lionel Stander is more abrasive and unpleasant than the 1954 version's introspective, intellectual Jack Carson; on the other hand, Adolphe Menjou and Charles Bickford are fairly evenly matched in the role of the studio head. Several important omissions are made in the remake. The 1937 Star is Born included Esther's indomitable old grandma (May Robson), a helpful assistant director (Andy Devine) and a soft-hearted landlord (Edgar Kennedy); all three characters are missing from the 1954 version, though elements of each can be found in the "best friend/severest critic" character played by Tommy Noonan. Wisely, both versions end with the grieving Vicki Lester coming out of her shell at a public gathering, greeting the audience with a proud, defiant "Good evening, everybody. This is Mrs. Norman Maine." Though directors William Wellman (1937 version) and George Cukor (1954 version) handle this finale in their own distinctive manners, the end result is equally effective emotionally. What truly sets the 1954 A Star is Born apart from other films of its ilk is its magnificent musical score by Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin. The songs include "The Man Who Got Away" (brilliantly performed by Garland in one long take, sans dubbing), "It's a New World," "Somewhere There's a Someone," "I Was Born in a Trunk," "Lose That Long Face" and "Gotta Have Me Go With You." When originally previewed in 1954, the film ran well over three hours, thanks to the lengthy-and thoroughly disposable-"Born in a Trunk" number, added to the film as an afterthought without the approval or participation of director George Cukor. The Warner Bros. executives trimmed the film to 154 minutes, eliminating three top-rank musical numbers and several crucial expository sequences (including Norman's proposal to Vicki). At the instigation of the late film historian Ronald Haver, the full version was painstakingly restored in 1983, with outtakes and still photos bridging the "lost" footage. Though nominated in several categories, A Star is Born was left empty-handed at Academy Award time, an oversight that caused outrage then and still rankles Judy Garland fans to this day (Footnote: Judy Garland had previously played Vicki Lester in a 1942 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the original A Star is Born).

Product Details

Release Date: 08/16/2016
UPC: 0889290927477
Original Release: 1954
Source: Mr Fat - W Video
Time: 2:55:00
Sales rank: 64,732

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Judy Garland Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester
James Mason Norman Maine
Jack Carson Matt Libby
Charles Bickford Oliver Niles
Tommy Noonan Danny McGuire
Lucy Marlow Lola Lavery
Amanda Blake Susan Ettinger
Irving Bacon Graves
Hazel Shermet Libby's Secretary
James Brown Glenn Williams
Lotus Robb Miss Markham
Laurindo Almeida Guitarist
Rudolph Anders Actor
Phil Arnold Actor
Nadene Ashdown Esther at age 6
Willis B. Bouchey Director
Chick Chandler Man in Car
Tristram Coffin Director
Samuel Colt Men at Race Track
Rex Evans Master of Ceremonies
Frank Ferguson Judge
Bess Flowers Actor
Wilton Graff Master of Ceremonies--Last Scene
Charles Halton Actor
Jack Harmon 1st Dancer
Stuart Holmes Spectator
Joseph Mell Studio Employee
Pat O'Malley Actor
Leonard Penn Actor
Frank Puglia Bruno
Grandon Rhodes Producer
Emerson Treacy Justice of the Peace
Charles Watts Harrison
Eric Wilton Valet
Joan Shawlee Announcer
Dub Taylor Driver
Louis Jean Heydt Director
Kathryn Card Landlady
Grady Sutton Carver
Richard Webb Wallace
Henry Kulky Cuddles
Olin Howard Charley
Percy Helton Charley
Mae Marsh Party Guest
Strother Martin Actor
John Saxon Premiere Movie Usher

Technical Credits
George Cukor Director
Gene Allen Production Designer
Vern Alves Associate Producer
Harold Arlen Score Composer
Richard Barstow Choreography
Gordon Bau Makeup
Malcolm C. Bert Art Director
Folmar Blangsted Editor
Robert Carson Original Story
David Forrest Sound/Sound Designer
Ira Gershwin Score Composer
Moss Hart Screenwriter
Ray Heindorf Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
Craig Holt Editor
George James Hopkins Set Decoration/Design
H.F. Koenekamp Special Effects
Charles Lang Sound/Sound Designer
Sam Leavitt Cinematographer
Jean Louis Costumes/Costume Designer
Sidney Luft Producer
Mary Ann Nyberg Costumes/Costume Designer
Irene Sharaff Costumes/Costume Designer,Production Designer
Michael Woulfe Costumes/Costume Designer

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