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 film's completion was particularly joyous for Judy Garland, who had just learned that she was pregnant for the third time. See more »
The Shrine Auditorium benefit which opens the film takes place in Los Angeles, but a very prominently displayed TV camera displays the call letters WABD which at that time was the DuMont Television Network's New York City station, broadcasting on Channel 5, and would not have a camera crew on hand in Los Angeles to record such an event. 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
Much has been written about this movie (to extremely great length) in other reviews, so I'll try to keep this fairly brief and concise.
First, the restored version runs at 176 minutes. The movie originally ran at 181 minutes, but was cut to 154 minutes when theater owners complained that they were losing money due to the excessive length. The cut destroyed the integrity of the movie - director Cukor never saw the movie again. However, the restored version contains stills to replace some of the cut footage, and gives a better sense of the film's power and scope.
Second, all four major studio versions of the story (including "What Price Hollywood?") have their own merits and differ greatly from one another. If you like the story, see them all and compare for yourself. It's quite fun to compare!
Third, definitely see this version for Judy. Sure, Judy's "The Man That Got Away" may be the greatest musical moment on cinema, but it's her dramatic performance that will keep your attention over almost three hours. James Mason is on target, and the supporting cast is fine, but Judy just dominates the screen. It's an opportunity to see a true genius in action at the absolute height of her powers. For more dramatic Judy, see her in "The Clock".
George Cukor was acclaimed as the great director of actresses, and he raises Judy to the height she deserves. I love Judy. This is a 10 out of 10.
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