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>
George Cukor was an expert on pushing actresses to an emotional brink and then capturing it on film. For Judy Garland's breakdown scene in Esther's dressing room, he drove her so hard that she threw up before the first take. Then he made her do the scene over and over until he had it just right. But he was also an expert in easing tension on the set through humor. After the final take, Garland was sobbing uncontrollably. He came up to her quietly, put his hand on her shoulder and said, "Judy, Marjorie Main couldn't have done that any better!" See more »
The opening scenes of cars arriving for the benefit combine actual shots of a Hollywood event with ones filmed for the movie. But in one shot, taken from the perspective of a spotlight crew atop their tower, the footage of the real event is shown on the right side of the screen, while footage shot for the movie is at the left. Not only is the disparity between the two shots obvious, but the split screen is completely mismatched, so that the cars on the right appear to be moving at a sharp angle directly into the cars and building in the shot at left, and it looks as though there are two streets intersecting below. See more »
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 »
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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