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 restored version received its world premiere at the Radio City Music Hall in New York on July 7, 1983. As soon as the lost musical numbers appeared, the audience started applauding. At the end, the audience gave the film a standing ovation. Both of Judy Garland's daughters, Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft, were in the audience. Afterwards, they had to be taken to a dressing room, where it took them 20 minutes to stop crying. See more »
Norman's final minutes take place just as the sun is about to set. Yet when he walks on the beach, the shadows indicate that particular scene was shot in the late afternoon. See more »
[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.
Don't I now?
[stops laughing, suddenly shocked]
And you're cold sober.
Well, you'd better make the most of it!
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 »
In 1983 the film was restored to 176 minutes by Ron Haver. However, although all of the original soundtrack was available, some visual footage couldn't be found: the restored version resorts to a montage of stills, dialogue and music in place of the missing scenes. Director George Cukor died the day before the opening of the restored version. See more »
On a brief getaway this past weekend, the hotel where I was staying had TCM (Turner Classic Movies) on its cable roster and, lo! and behold, there was Judy singing and acting her heart out in letterbox and stereo sound. TCM...you're the best!
It was the restored version, thank the good Lord, with that sad reminder of Warner Brothers' pathetic timidity in trashing Cukor's original cut, but recalling for us his masterful use of the widescreen ratio. (A "formatted" version would be simply unwatchable, what with numerous scenes played by actors perched on the outer reaches of the screen, opposite each other.)
James Mason turns in an absolutely brilliant performance, especially when one recalls the rigors of production, with filming going months over schedule, due to Judy's unhappy vicissitudes (so evident in her appearance even within the same scene!) With the very able support of Charles Bickford, as the most benign studio head ever, and Jack Carson proving why Warners kept him employed so often for so many years.
Plus musical direction taking fabulous advantage of Warners' studio orchestra (and WB's sound technicians who were, for several decades running, the envy of all the other major studios), and arrangements that must have overwhelmed first-run audiences with their incredible richness.
It's a must-see, all right, and is in a class by itself, among the several screen versions of this beloved Hollywood saga.
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