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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The initial Columbia Records soundtrack LP (now reissued in the original mono sound on a British CD from Prism Leisure) reached the fourth slot on "Billboard"'s popular albums chart. Subsequently, two "improved" versions of the soundtrack have been released by the Sony label: a 1988 CD in mostly true stereo; and a 2004 deluxe package containing a second, unused Judy Garland rendition of "It's a New World"; the singing commercial on TV for Trinidad Coconut Oil Shampoo; the discarded chorus of "When My Sugar Walks Down the Street" (Judy with Jack Baker) from the "Born in a Trunk" sequence; the full orchestral introduction to "Gotta Have Me Go with You" (Judy with Don McKay and Jack Harmon); the complete orchestral introduction, not totally heard in the release print, to the Academy Award-nominated Garland trademark, "The Man That Got Away"; and musical director Ray Heindorf's Oscar-nominated background score, including portions not included in the finished picture. See more »
At the end, Norman opens the sliding door and Esther begins to sing. After stepping outside he closes the door completely, yet the sound level of her voice is not reduced. See more »
As Matt Libby (Jack Carson) dictates the cancellation/resignation of Norman Maine's (James Mason) contract, a theater marquee featuring "Black Legion" starring Norman Maine, outside his window is being taken down. "Black Legion" was a 1937 movie starring Humphrey Bogart, one of the actors that turned down the role of Norman Maine for this picture. See more »
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 Hunnington 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
In a career of classic performances this may be Judy Garland's best role and one that certainly uses her many talents to the hilt. James Mason gives an Oscar caliber performance as well and I believe in almost any other year that he wasn't up against Brando's "On the Waterfront" performance he would and should have won.
This George Cukor film features gorgeous color and beautiful cinematography, but does suffer from choppy editing that may be the result of restored footage. The project to restore over an hour of missing footage scrapped by the producers after the original length was in excess of four and a half hours may have been done with the best intentions, but is still incomplete and leaves the film disjointed and obviously lacking. I certainly wish the original footage was never scrapped, but this spotty attempt at restoration makes you feel like your watching more of a project than a classic film. Sometimes less is more and definitely in this case.
Whatever you do make sure you see the widescreen version of this film that was originally shot in Cinemascope or you will only see about a third of the actual picture and I assure you, you won't want to miss any of it.
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