Throwback Thursday Review: A Star is Born (1954)

  • Actors: Judy Garland, James Mason, Jack Carlson, Charles Bickford, Tom Noonan
  • Director: George Cukor
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 22, 2010
  • Run Time: 176 minutes


            When director George Cukor made A Star is Born in 1954, it was his first musical and first full-color feature. The remake of 1937 classic was an undertaking which would reach epic scales. He knew that the film was too long at 181 minutes, and suggested to the studio that he could shave about twenty minutes if needed. Instead, the studio decided to release the film in its entirety. Had they simply allowed Cukor to make the cuts himself, film history might have been changed. Instead, after a poor opening, the studio rushed an editing job of the film which cut 30-minutes out of the film. Many blame this decision as the cause of Judy Garland’s loss at the 1955 Academy Award ceremony.


            In the early 80s much of the footage from the original cut was restored. Although there is still five minutes missing, and some of the scenes are dialogue and production photos, but no footage remains of the scene. This Deluxe Edition DVD includes the restored version of the film, split onto two parts on a double-sided disc. There is also a second disc with over four hours of special features. A Star is Born is a film with a fan base that remains over fifty years later, and the previously unseen deleted scenes and alternate shots/sequences won’t disappoint fans.


            The story follows the rise to success of Esther Blodgett (Garland), who becomes movie star Vicki Lester after her first preview screening. The rise to fame is due largely in part to movie star Norman Maine (James Mason), an actor with an alcohol problem threatening to kill his career. The melodrama of the traumatic marriage between a rising star and a fading one is interspersed between elaborate song and dance sequences, as Garland puts on a one-woman show.



    Entertainment Value: 7.5/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10

    Historical Significance: 9/10

    Disc Features: 7/10




    No comments: