A Star Is Born
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Judy Garland had no better showcase of her formidable singing and acting talent than as the title "star" of this moving, memorable classic directed by George Cukor. As a band singer discovered and guided to heights of show-business success by an alcoholic ex-matinee idol (James Mason), she performs one superb song after another (most by Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin) in a production that exhilarates with its craft and style even as its story moves toward a heartbreaking finale. Shortened after its 1954 premiere and reconstructed to near its original length in 1983, A Star Is Born endures as one of Hollywood’s supreme triumphs.
Disc 2: Nearly four hours of extras: A dazzling assemblage of rarities, many previously unreleased: Deleted scenes and alternate filmings of four musical numbers and one dramatic sequence, over an hour of rare recording-session music and a vintage radio show. Plus Hollywood premiere telecast and newsreel, exhibitor reel and expanded post-premiere party footage, trailers of all three A Star Is Born versions, and much more
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When the show ended, we hurried out to the portcochere area at the side of the theatre and waited for the star to come out. She was in a pink suit with a tiny pill box hat to match. She smiled and waved to the crowd before getting into the limo. We were so close, we could have reached out and touched her. That was an evening to remember. Seeing the film restored in the blu-ray version with the stereo sound track, is about as close as I can remember seeing the original Cinemascope print projected in the Encino Theatre those many years ago.
The pairing of March and Gaynor, offers a more sentimental and rather schmaltzy portrayal of the characters. Even the musical background in the scene where Esther Boldgett's grandma sees her off at the train station was Old Lang Syne, and I used half a box of Kleenex before half the movie was over....
Judy Garland and James Mason's characters are little more complex and the film is very 50's. I thought Judy Garland looked great in all of her scenes and of course her musical numbers are fantastic...I particularly loved her in the after hours club scene singing The Man that got Away. For years Judy looked emaciated and strained in the face, but here she looks of average weight and her acting is perfection as always.
James Mason's portrayal of Norman Maine seemed a bit staid at first, but then you become accustomed to his vocal cadence and become immersed in the story completely. Jack Carson adds some humor as the sarcastic press agent Libby. There are snippets of film missing in several of the scenes which have been replaced with movie stills and the audio dialogue is heard in the background corresponding with the missing frame action.
This worked for me and didn't detract from the overall film. If you are a fan of Judy Garland you will definitely enjoy this film.
It has historical significance because James Mason delivered Garland's eulogy.
Of course with blu ray and its enhancement comes a stronger clarity into the essence of a film. When cast in A STAR IS BORN which was in many ways a comeback for Judy after some troubled years many thought she was too old to play the part. Here, with the enhancements, you can see that she was older and also see the makeup trying to cover away the years. The story is supposed to be about a young struggling singer who gets discovered. Judy's performance is so great and all encompassing that the story changes to that of a struggling singer who is discovered. The age is not important and is actually never mentioned in the film. For me the character is ageless and her matching with James Mason is perfection. Was Judy robbed of the Oscar for this film? I cannot say for I am only 49 and was not around at the time. I didn't see all the other films and actresses she was up against. But whether she won or not does not in any way take away from the magic that A STAR IS BORN provides. The story is actually a dark one and deals with some strong issues for the time. Movies, singing and entertainment are a backdrop for a deeply troubled love and marriage. The emotional wallop delivered here is amazing and not lost by time. This is truly one of the best films ever made and blu ray enhances it 100% over any previous release. Magically cast, perfectly directed and provided here at its intended length, this is a must have. A classic film and a true entertainment legend come together to make history. Highly recommended.