Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
USA, 1954. Transcona Enterprises. Screenplay by Moss Hart, based on the 1937 film, story by William A. Wellman, Robert Carson, screenplay by Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, Robert Carson. Cinematography by Sam Leavitt. Produced by Sidney Luft. Music by Ray Heindorf. Production Design by Gene Allen. Costume Design by Jean Louis, Mary Ann Nyberg. Film Editing by Folmar Blangsted.
This is the best version of the oft-told tale of stardom and personal loss. Judy Garland gives the performance of a lifetime as an aspiring singer who meets famous movie star James Mason and falls in love with him. He promotes her to his film studio and she eventually becomes a big movie star, while he descends into a personal struggle with alcoholism. Try as she might, Garland’s love for him just can’t stop him from doing extreme harm to himself, personally and professionally.
The many musical numbers are beautifully achieved, sung to perfection by Garland and photographed in gorgeous Technicolour. George Cukor’s direction is superb, and Moss Hart’s screenplay the best treatment ever written of the story. The two versions prior to this, What Price Hollywood and the 1937 version also called A Star Is Born were dramatic pieces, while this one, the 1976 version with Barbra Streisand, Glitter starring Mariah Carey in 2001 and the 2018 official remake by Bradley Cooper are all musicals.
Academy Award Nominations: Best Actor (James Mason); Best Actress (Judy Garland); Best Art Direction-Colour; Best Costume Design-Colour; Best Scoring of a Musical Picture; Best Song (“The Man That Got Away”)
Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor-Musical/Comedy (James Mason); Best Actress-Musical/Comedy (Judy Garland)
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