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A Star Is Born (1954)

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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
761 ( 356)
Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Judy Garland ... 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:

The applause of the world -- and then this! 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:

$14,933,000
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

In the scene after the movie premiere, Matt Libby is at a party where he passes a man and says, "Hey, Ray! Great score, the best!" The man is Ray Heindorf, musical director for this film. 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 finished looking through her scrapbook] You know as much about me as I do myself. But... you see how long it's taken me to get this far. Now, all I need is just a little luck.
Norman Maine: What kind of luck?
Vicki Lester: Oh, the kind of luck that every girl singer with a band dreams of - one night a big talent scout from a big record company might come in and he'll let me make a record.
Norman Maine: Yes, and then?
Vicki Lester: Well, the record will become number one on the Hit Parade, it'll be played on the jukeboxes all over the ...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

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 »

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 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
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Connections

Referenced in RuPaul's Drag Race: Once Upon a Queen (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

You Took Advantage of Me
(uncredited)
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Performed by Judy Garland as part of the "Born in a Trunk" medley
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Garland's Shining Hour in a Pristine Print of Her Legendary Vehicle
28 January 2007 | by EUyeshimaSee all my reviews

Marked by a pervasive sense of melancholy, the 1954 musical version of the familiar Hollywood warhorse will forever be remembered as Judy Garland's most acclaimed work in films. Even though she would go on to a handful of films in the early 1960's, this was her last leading role in a major Hollywood production, an ironic point since she plays an emerging movie star on the rise. True, she doesn't look her best in the film, but her fulsome talent is on full, heart-wrenching display as Esther Blodgett, an obscure but thriving band singer who becomes movie star Vicki Lester thanks to Norman Maine, an alcoholic has-been movie star in career free-fall. Their love story and the opposing trajectories of their careers are tracked meticulously by Moss Hart's shrewdly observed screenplay and George Cukor's sensitive direction.

The double-sided 2000 DVD provides the 176-minute restored version, which is just five minutes less than what was shown at the original premiere. Until 1983, the half-hour of footage excised after the premiere was thought lost, but film historian Ron Haver found much of it and supervised an extraordinary restoration effort that includes a necessary albeit brief use of production stills to match up with the complete soundtrack. Even with such technicalities, the resulting film is even more of a landmark musical drama, emotionally resonant in spite of certain pacing issues with the storyline. Cukor's approach is probably more leisurely than the relatively hard-boiled material requires since he includes so many establishing and lengthy shots, but his direction shows his legendary sensitivity toward actors.

While he comes across a bit too robust as a fading matinée idol, James Mason vigorously captures Norman's scornful pride and self-pity. He may lack Fredric March's innate sense of vulnerability in the original, but Mason makes the character's inner torment more palpable. As for Garland, she brings so much of her own history to Esther/Vicki that her scenes feel alive with her vibrant, masochistic personality. She is aided immeasurably by the masterful songs of Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin, most significantly her torchy rendition of "The Man That Got Away", as perfect a musical movie moment as has been ever produced. While her work in the fifteen-minute "Born in the Trunk" sequence is impressive, it is really later in the film when she soars, in particular, when she segues from the tap-happy "Lose That Long Face" into a breakdown scene in her dressing room with sympathetic studio head Oliver Niles portrayed with his typically stentorian fervor by Charles Bickford.

The print condition and sound quality on the DVD are superb. There are also some fascinating extras on the B-side starting with three alternative takes on "The Man That Got Away", each distinctive in presentation with costume and lighting changes, a must for Garland fans. Also included is a very brief deleted number within the "Born in the Trunk" sequence", "When My Sugar Walks Down the Street". Three vintage pieces have been gathered - a brief newsreel piece of the premiere, a four-minute clip of the Coconut Grove premiere party held after the premiere, and most interestingly, a half-hour kinescope akin to the current-day red carpet pre-shows with an amazing parade of period stars expressing little more than good wishes on their way to the theater. Lastly, the theatrical trailers for all three versions of "A Star Is Born" are also included.


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