A young woman comes to Hollywood with dreams of stardom, and achieves them only with the help of an alcoholic leading man whose best days are behind him.A young woman comes to Hollywood with dreams of stardom, and achieves them only with the help of an alcoholic leading man whose best days are behind him.A young woman comes to Hollywood with dreams of stardom, and achieves them only with the help of an alcoholic leading man whose best days are behind him.
The mere idea of young and very naive, Esther Blodgett making it big in Hollywood, is stretching the imagination big time. This girl from the heart of the country yearns to be somebody in the pictures that are her escape from the dreary life she leads. To even think that she would have a chance in becoming a bit player, is a stretch of the imagination, but to have her become a star in her own right with her unsophisticated looks, is even harder to believe. Hollywood of those years was a factory of dreams where many went to be part of it, but for one Esther Blodgett, there were thousands who were rejected.
We watch as Esther is transformed into Vicki Lester, a star larger than life, who captures the public's imagination and goes to eclipse bigger stars such as Norman Maine, her discoverer, and the man she falls in love with. Norman's decline is very fast, while Vicki's ascent into glory is even faster. His drinking habit will get the best of him at a time when help agencies such as A.A. didn't exist. Unfortunately for Vicki, she ultimately has to pay for her own meteoric success.
The cast is superb. Not being a fan of Janet Gaynor, I have to confess that she strikes the right note with her Esther/Vicki role. She is totally believable even though we never even see her take an acting class, much less see her waiting tables to help herself. Frederick March brings an intensity to Norman, the self destructive star, that makes us pity him.
Adolphe Menjou is the studio head who sees a winner in the young, aspiring actress, and gives her the chance. Most surprising of all is the star performance of Lionel Standing as Matt Libby, the studio publicist who is behind the creation of the new star. Andy Devine, May Robson, and the rest are equally satisfying.
This film was a happy surprise in many aspects and will not disappoint.
- May 19, 2004