movie film review | chris tookey

Star Is Born

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  Star Is Born Review
Tookey's Rating
10 /10
Average Rating
9.13 /10
Judy Garland , James Mason , Charles Bickford
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Directed by: George Cukor
Written by: Moss Hart

Released: 1954
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 181

Upwardly mobile starlet (Judy Garland, pictured left) marries downwardly-mobile star (James Mason, pictured right).
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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A myth has grown up that A Star Was Born was reviewed negatively on release; in reality, the original three-hour version won director Cukor the best American reviews of his career. Despite these, the Warner Brothers sales and exhibition hierarchy insisted on 27 minutes of cuts and destroyed all existing prints and the original negative before it went on general release. “They took an axe to the movie,” Cukor complained, years later, and he never spoke to the editor, Folmar Blangsted, again.

Even the 168-minute version succeeds as a musical, a tearjerker and a depiction of Hollywood fame. The two central performances proved unspoilable. In 1983, however, film historian Ron Haver reconstructed a 181-minute version approximating to Cukor's original, and that is a masterpiece. The recording-studio proposal scene between Mason and Garland is so charming that it should never have been lost; while the re-inclusion of a cut number Lose That Long Face makes Garland's feelings about the decline of her husband more touching.

This is among the most moving of all screen musicals, and one of the best integrations of songs with drama. Musical director Ray Heindorf, art directors Malcolm Bert, Gene Allen and Irene Sharaff, and the song The Man That Got Away (music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Ira Gershwin) were all Oscar-nominated.

"The biggest robbery since Brinks."

(Groucho Marx, when Garland lost the Best Actress Oscar to Grace Kelly)

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