7.8/10
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A Star Is Born (1954)

Passed | | Drama, Musical, Romance | 16 October 1954 (USA)
Trailer
4:21 | Trailer

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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.

Director:

George Cukor

Writers:

Moss Hart (screen play by), Dorothy Parker (based on the 1937 screen play by) | 4 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
1,146 ( 446)
Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Judy Garland ... Vicki Lester
James Mason ... Norman Maine
Jack Carson ... Matt Libby
Charles Bickford ... Oliver Niles
Tommy Noonan ... Danny McGuire (as Tom Noonan)
Lucy Marlow ... Lola Lavery
Amanda Blake ... Susan Ettinger
Irving Bacon ... Graves
Hazel Shermet Hazel Shermet ... Libby's Secretary
James Brown ... 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 applause of the world -- and then this! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Musical | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 October 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Star Is Born See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,019,770 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$14,933,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Transcona Enterprises See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (RCA Sound System) (magnetic prints)| Mono (optical prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A torch song supreme which was nominated for an Oscar, "The Man That Got Away" (music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Ira Gershwin) had been photographed in three diverse schemes on a nightclub floor using distinctly different camera setups, lighting, placement of the band members and furniture, costuming for Judy Garland and the musicians, hairstyles for Miss Garland, and bits of business before she sings. (In the initial footage, Tommy Noonan lightly shoves Judy off the piano bench. In the next design, Judy serves coffee to Tommy and the on-screen trumpeter.) Ultimately, the "dark" version was chosen - with the club appearing somewhat cavernous in mostly dark-brownish hues, plus Judy wearing a navy-blue dress. The various permutations of this famous film number can be compared on the DVD from Warner Home Video. See more »

Goofs

Norman's final minutes take place just as the sun is about to set. Yet when he walks on the beach, the shadows indicate that particular scene was shot in the late afternoon. 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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Crazy Credits

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 »

Alternate Versions

In 1983 the film was restored to 176 minutes by Ron Haver. However, although all of the original soundtrack was available, some visual footage couldn't be found: the restored version resorts to a montage of stills, dialogue and music in place of the missing scenes. Director George Cukor died the day before the opening of the restored version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Long Goodbye (1973) See more »

Soundtracks

Black Bottom
(uncredited)
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
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Oscar that got away...
26 August 2002 | by rondineSee all my reviews

This movie is not without its flaws, but overall, it is a masterpiece.

The quintessential story of a couple, one who's career is on the rise, the other on the decline- is made extraordinary by the performances.

Ester Blodgett, aka: Vicki Lester (Judy Garland) plays the unknown talent with pipes that would put an organ to shame. Her singing in this movie is definitely a HUGE reason to watch it- especially the show stopper, "The Man that got away." Ester meets, by chance & some help from the bottle, the cinematic icon, Norman Maine (James Mason.) Even though he's drunk, he is taken with her. Much later that night, he finds her at a club just "kickin' it" with the boys in the band. In what is probably the best 5 mins of music in the history of musicals- Judy lets it all out in "The Man that got away." Sincerely, I MYSELF, have never heard singing like that. So absolutely raw, almost uncontrolled and full-out and all heart that it always gives me goosebumps! And an unobserved Norman Maine comes out of the shadows to tell Ester that he TOO has never heard singing like that. He tells her, (completely sober after sleeping off a little) that she has a great talent. And he makes her believe it.

She eventually gets her chance with some help from Norman, and makes a big hit movie. She starts to make a lotta hit movies. Meanwhile, Norman gets cut from the studio by his longtime friend & boss, Oliver Niles. One thing leads to another & even though he is happily married now to Ester, his drinking starts up again. In a scene that is almost too awful to watch, he stumbles in on her acceptance speech at the Academy Awards. I dunno if that slap was real, but it looked real. And the ashamed look on his face afterwards looks real.

I won't give away the ending, but I will tell you why I liked this movie. First of all is Judy's singing. There are many memorable songs and moments. She always gives it her all when she sings. Or to paraphrase Ester in the movie, it's when she is her most alive. Her acting is terrific too. In a scene that is so well written and ahead of its time (and timeless), Ester tells her friend & studio head that she is worried about what's happening to her & Norman. That she hates him for the lies, for the promises to quit, and for failing. That she too feels like a failure. This scene encapsulates the ripple effect caused by alcoholism. Judy is absolutely mesmerizing as the wife who has discovered that love is not enough.

James Mason delivers one of the best & most convincing performances of an alcoholic on the decline that I've ever seen on screen. First of all, his charm & sincerity are apparent. When Libby (his Publicity Agent) says that his appeal & charm escape him, it's because he didn't see this side of him. He only saw the mean drunk and that wasn't who Norman Maine really was. James Mason is LOOKS so convincing that you'd swear he had a quick 6 or 7 drinks before the shoot. And his pain is real. In the scene where she gets him out of night court, his self-disgust and shame are vividly on his face. And the scene where he over-hears Ester & Oliver talking about him is enough to make anyone reach for the hankies. He has so much chemistry with Judy that you'd swear they were really in love. Many a reviewer has mentioned this- and I won't speculate on it- suffice to say that it adds tremendously to the movie, because it seems palpable how much Ester & Norman care about each other & are desperately in love. Definite Oscar-calibre performance by Garland & Mason here. This is the story of the Oscar that got away. In any world that was just, they both would've gotten one.

All the supporting roles are well done and not too obtrusive. My only complaint with the movie is the editing. I'm happy to have the restored version, but the editing could've made a more intense, compact version of the film. I will give one of many examples: The scene towards the end where her friend from the band arrives at her house to take her to the benefit. It is a very important scene. The next scene is at the benefit location. We have several minutes of them showing the backstage bustle before Ester & her friend enter. They already showed in the beginning of the film all the backstage confusion- it slows down the story. They could've cut directly to the part where she & him walk in. You still get a sense of what's going on around them without that long lead-in. That is just an example, there are more. But it is a minor complaint - I have a DVD & can scan when I need to. Overall this is a timeless movie with outstanding performances. A must see!!


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