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A Star Is Born (1954)

Passed | | Drama, Musical, Romance | 16 October 1954 (USA)
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A film star helps a young singer and actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career on a downward spiral.

Director:

George Cukor

Writers:

Moss Hart (screen play by), Dorothy Parker (based on the 1937 screen play by) | 4 more credits »
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Popularity
2,973 ( 522)
Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Judy Garland ... Esther Blodgett / Vicki Lester
James Mason ... Norman Maine
Jack Carson ... Matt Libby
Charles Bickford ... Oliver Niles
Tommy Noonan ... Danny McGuire (as Tom Noonan)
Lucy Marlow ... Lola Lavery
Amanda Blake ... Susan Ettinger
Irving Bacon ... Graves
Hazel Shermet Hazel Shermet ... Libby's Secretary
James Brown ... Glenn Williams
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Storyline

Norman Maine, a movie star whose career is on the wane, meets showgirl Esther Blodgett when he drunkenly stumbles into her act one night. A friendship develops, then blossoms into romance before tensions increase as Esther's career takes off while Norman's continues to plummet. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"A BRILLIANTLY STAGED, SCORED AND PHOTOGRAPHED FILM WORTH ALL THE EFFORT!" Life Magazine (original ad - mostly caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Musical | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 October 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Star Is Born See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,019,770 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$4,335,968

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,348,890
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Transcona Enterprises See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(premiere) | (restored) | (DVD) | (cut)

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (RCA Sound System) (magnetic prints)| Mono (optical prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

George Cukor died before he could see the restored version. See more »

Goofs

At the Sneak Preview at the Marcopia Theatre, the first sequence of the Born in a Trunk number, which Garland and Mason are apparently watching from the balcony, is projected in 16:9 ratio, but the rest of the number, as viewed by members of the film audience, in the film itself, is in CinemaScope in the much wider 2.55:1 wide screen ratio. See more »

Quotes

Vicki Lester: [Norman has returned to find her in a nightclub. She walks over to him with a small laugh] Hello, Mr. Maine. You turn up in the strangest places.
Norman Maine: Don't I now?
Vicki Lester: [stops laughing, suddenly shocked] And you're cold sober.
Norman Maine: Well, you'd better make the most of it!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Contrary to popular belief, the film was not originally at 181 minutes, but rather 196 (3hrs. and 16mins.) at a post-premiere shown on August 8, 1954 in Huntington Park, California. After its second post-premiere - the very next day - two scenes of 15 minutes total were deleted; making the film run its original world debut length at 181 minutes. One was a number called "When My Sugar Walks Down the Street" that came after Judy's take of "I'll Get By" in the 'Born in the Trunk' sequence, the other was a scene where Garland and James Mason's characters (Vicki and Norman) were picnicking on the beach; production stills and promotional advertisements are the only thing left in existence of the footage. After its world premiere on September 29, 1954, 27 minutes was cut, bringing it down to a mediocre 154 time length. Those scenes were:
  • 1) Esther quitting the band
  • 2) The Trinidad Coconut Oil Shampoo
  • 3) Esther working at a drive-in
  • 4) Norman being driven away drunk in his car
  • 5) Norman inquiring Esther's old landlady
  • 6) Spotting Esther on the TV commercial
  • 7) Tracking down Esther at her new boarding residence
  • 8) Driving down the strip - Esther getting sick
  • 9) "Here's What I'm Here For" musical number - Norman proposes
  • 10) "Lose That Long Face" musical number - Vicki breaks down
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Gilmore Girls: So... Good Talk (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

It's a New World
(uncredited)
Music by Harold Arlen
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
Performed by Judy Garland
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Sing Melancholy Baby
18 January 2005 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

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 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.


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