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A Star is Born

   

A Star is Born (1954) starring Judy Garland, James Mason

As a band singer guided to heights of show-business success by an alcoholic ex-matinee idol, Judy Garland performs one superb song after another (most by Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin) in a production – also starring James Mason and directed by George Cukor – that exhilarates with its craft and style even as it moves toward a heartbreaking finale. Shortened after its 1954 premiere and reconstructed to near its original length in 1983, A Star Is Born endures as one of Hollywood’s supreme triumphs.

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 country… and I’ll be made [laughs self-deprecatingly at the implausibility]
Vicki Lester: End of dream.
Norman Maine: There’s only one thing wrong with that.
Vicki Lester: I know – it won’t happen!
Norman Maine: No, it might happen pretty easily – but the dream isn’t big enough.

Review

A Star is Born is a wonderfully acted, enjoyable, and heartbreaking film. It’s the story of a pretty young woman, discovered by an alcoholic actor who’s on a downward spiral. It’s very well done, with great acting all around.

At its heart, it’s an interesting, and sad, look behind the scenes of how Hollywood creates stars, chews them up, and spits them out. There’s a very well-acted, heartbreaking scene, where Judy Garland’s character, Vicki, is accepting an award. Her husband, Norman Maine, is drunk. He’s self-medicating his pain with alcohol. He stumbles on stage, and makes a heartfelt plea for work. Work, doing what he loves. While talking, he accidentally backhands Vicki. He’s truly sorry, but it’s too late.

Despite Vicki’s love for him, he continues his downward spiral. She tries helping hm, going as far as to go to court, where he’s been in the drunk tank. And she tells the judge that she’ll take full responsibility for her husband.

So then, Norman realizes what he’s doing to her. And, the truly, deeply, loves her. He can’t stop his drinking, or downfall. So he does the only thing he thinks he can do for her. He supposedly goes for a swim …. To intentionally drown. And to free the woman that he loves, to live her best life. But she truly loves him as well. She lives on, but she will not let his memory die.

Vicki Lester: Hello, everybody. This is Mrs. Norman Maine.

Cast of characters

Product description

A STAR IS BORN was conceived as a comeback vehicle for Judy Garland, who gives a fascinating and heartrending performance in perhaps the finest work of her career. This film was director George Cukor’s first musical and first color picture; the tale of a doomed Hollywood couple, it was a remake of the 1937 William Wellman movie with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. Garland plays young singer Esther, who saves Norman Maine (James Mason), a famous star, from making a fool of himself onstage.

Maine is an alcoholic whose career is on the wane but who manages, nonetheless, to acknowledge Esther’s talent and help her jump-start a career in Hollywood. But as her star rises and his declines, Maine’s misery grows. Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin provided Garland with songs that would become standards in her concert repertoire, including “The Man That Got Away,” which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Song.

Songs

  • Gotta Have Me Go with You
    • Music by Harold Arlen
    • Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
  • The Man That Got Away
    • Music by Harold Arlen
    • Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
  • Here’s What I’m Here For
    • Music by Harold Arlen
    • Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
  • Lose That Long Face
    • Music by Harold Arlen
    • Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
  • Someone at Last
    • Music by Harold Arlen
    • Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
  • It’s a New World
    • Music by Harold Arlen
    • Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
  • Trinidad Coconut Oil Shampoo
    • Music by Harold Arlen
    • Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
    • Commercial jingle performed by Judy Garland
  • Born in a Trunk
    • Music by Roger Edens
    • Lyrics by Leonard Gershe
  • Swanee
    • Music by George Gershwin
    • Lyrics by Irving Caesar
    • Performed by Judy Garland as part of the “Born in a Trunk” medley
  • I’ll Get By (As Long as I Have You)
    • Music by Fred E. Ahlert
    • Lyrics by Roy Turk
    • Performed by Judy Garland as part of the “Born in a Trunk” medley
  • You Took Advantage of Me
    • Music by Richard Rodgers
    • Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
    • Performed by Judy Garland as part of the “Born in a Trunk” medley
  • Black Bottom
    • Music by Ray Henderson
    • Lyrics by Buddy G. DeSylva and Lew Brown
    • Performed by Judy Garland as part of the “Born in a Trunk” medley
  • The Peanut Vendor (El Manicero)
    • Written by Moïse Simons
    • English lyrics by L. Wolfe Gilbert and Marion Sunshine
    • Performed by Judy Garland as part of the “Born in a Trunk” medley
  • Melancholy, aka “My Melancholy Baby
    • Music by Ernie Burnett
    • Lyrics by George A. Norton
    • Performed by Judy Garland as part of the “Born in a Trunk” medley
  • Born in a Trunk
    • Music & Lyrics by Leonard Gershe

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