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. A STAR IS BORN is also based on the earlier Cukor picture WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD?
Sidney Luft - Producer
Harold Arlen - American song composer, WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
Hyman Arluck - American song composer, WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
Charles Bickford - American Actor
Irving Bacon - American Character Actor
Charles Lang - Sound, mid '30s-mid'50s, Warner Bros. sound team
Folmar Blangsted - Editor
Gene Allen - Production Designer
George Cukor - Oscar-winning American director, MY FAIR LADY
James Mason - British actor, A STAR IS BORN (1954)
Sam Leavitt - American Director of Photography/Cinematographer
Jack Carson - American actor
Ira Gershwin - Lyricist
Israel Gershvin - Lyricist
Judy Garland - American actress/singer, THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
Frances Gumm - American actress/singer, THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
Amanda Blake - American TV Actress
First remake of the classic that was one of Judy Garland's greatest hits, and director George Cukor's first color picture, this musical includes Garland's well-known songs "The Man That Got Away" and "Born In a Trunk." The film garnered six Academy Award nominations, including Best Actress and Actor for Garland and James Mason.
Theatrical release: September 29, 1954. The film was budgeted at $2.5 million but ran to $6 million. A STAR IS BORN was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2000. Cukor's model for use of color in the film was John Huston's MOULIN ROUGE. Cukor wanted Cary Grant to do the part of Norman Maine, an alcoholic actor whose career is declining. Cukor turned down Bogart, Brando, and Montgomery Clift. The Catholic Legion of Decency gave the film a Class B rating. A STAR IS BORN was remade for the third time in 1976 starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, directed by Frank Pierson.
"...Arguably director George Cukor's greatest movie..." - 09/22/2000 USA Today, p.10E
"...[Garland's] personal struggles imbue her performance as the successful partner of a failing alcoholic actor with an unnervingly raw edge..." - 04/03/2003 Sight and Sound, p.61
"[A]n accurate take on Hollywood histrionics..." - 02/01/2004 Total Film, p.121
3 stars out of 4 -- "A bona-fide classic in the old Hollywood tradition. It's got glitz, glamour, boisterous musical numbers, and a tragic undertone." - 06/21/2010 Premiere