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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.

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Writers:

(screen play by), (based on the 1937 screen play by) | 4 more credits »
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Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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A nightclub performer hires a naive chorus girl to become his new dance partner to make his former partner jealous and to prove he can make any partner a star.

Director: Charles Walters
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Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Stars: Judy Garland, Van Johnson, S.Z. Sakall
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Danny McGuire (as Tom Noonan)
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Lola Lavery
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Susan Ettinger
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Graves
Hazel Shermet ...
Libby's Secretary
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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 ENTIRE PICTURE IS AN UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE! I WAS SORRY IT ENDED!" Ed Sullivan See more »

Genres:

Drama | Musical | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 October 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ein neuer Stern am Himmel  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,019,770 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$14,933,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(premiere) | (restored) | (DVD) | (cut)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System) (magnetic prints)| (optical prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cary Grant at first accepted, then turned down the role of Norman Maine, citing semi-retirement as his reason. He reportedly refused to work with Judy Garland because he was semi-retired. After Grant's death, his widow revealed that Garland's drug addiction made the actor have second thoughts and drop out of the film. See more »

Goofs

When Esther and Norman are in Norman's Lincoln convertible, in the closeups the seats have a blanket over the backrest, but in earlier and later shots only the car's standard upholstery is visible. See more »

Quotes

Norman Maine: Do you ever go fishing?
[Esther looks confused]
Norman Maine: Well, do you like prizefi--have you ever watched a great fighter?
Esther Blodgett: I-I uh--
Norman Maine: I'm trying to tell you how you sing.
Esther Blodgett: Do you mean like a prizefighter or a fish?
Norman Maine: Look...em--
[leads her into a kitchen]
Norman Maine: There are certain pleasures that you get--
[realizes that the sound of clanging dishes is intolerable and they depart for the outside]
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Step by Step: A Star Is Born (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

I'll Get By (As Long as I Have You)
(uncredited)
Music by Fred E. Ahlert
Lyrics by Roy Turk
Performed by Judy Garland as part of the "Born in a Trunk" medley
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Sing Melancholy Baby
18 January 2005 | by See all my reviews

Is it possible to watch this fictional story without digressing to thoughts about the real life story of Judy Garland? For me it isn't. Both are permanently intertwined. And it's not just the parallel between fiction and fact, but also the dark, brooding, melancholy mood they engender, like ghosts calling out to us from a Hollywood that no longer exists.

The film's storyline is well known. I won't belabor it here, except to say that it communicates an honest and introspective indictment of the entertainment industry as it once was. The story can be thought of as a kind of archetypal Hollywood memoir, expressed as a musical.

But musicals are supposed to be upbeat, lighthearted, fun. This one isn't. Moments of humor and joy are swept away in a cascade of emotional pain and tragedy. Fiction mimics real life. How appropriate that the film's signature song "The Man That Got Away" is one that is so uncompromisingly serious, poignant, and smoldering ... a perfect vehicle for Judy Garland.

Some say she had the greatest singing voice of any entertainer in the twentieth century. This film lends credence to that assertion. Every song she sings is performed with such consummate verve, such emotional commitment that she seems to be singing not just for her contemporaries, but also for generations to come. Indeed, she is. My personal favorite is the "Born In A Trunk" segment, all fifteen minutes of it. Surrounded by sets of true cinematic art, she belts out one tune after another, including, of course, the poignant "Melancholy Baby".

Judy's singing and the music itself are what make the movie so memorable. But she also demonstrates her considerable acting talent. And the acting of other cast members is fine, especially the performances of James Mason and Jack Carson. I do think that the film was, and still is, too long, the result of an overly ambitious screenplay.

That Judy Garland was denied the Best Actress Oscar is poignant. But her talent was so massive, her uniqueness was so special, maybe fate required a compensatory level of pain and tragedy, as a prerequisite of legend.


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