Thursday, December 27, 2012

Movies 101 - A Star Is Born (1954)

A Star is Born (1954) – 181min – TVPG

Norman Maine (James Mason) is a movie star whose fame is on the decline because of his alcoholism. The studio keeps him away from the press but during a live performance at the Shrine auditorium he arrives intoxicated, he is about to make a fool of himself on stage when one of the singers Esther Blodgett (Judy Garland) includes him in the act to make it look like it was all planed. Her quick thinking saves face for the Studio and Maine. Maine is so take by her quick thinking and talent he encourages her to come to Hollywood to be in motion pictures. Time passes and they go their separate ways, Blodgett tries her hand at acting and gets bit parts and Mane is called away to make a picture overseas. Once he comes back he sponsors her and pulls some strings to get her a starring role and she becomes a star. While her career takes off his completely implodes. Maine’s alcoholism takes over his life Blodgett is willing to give everything up to take care of Maine but he realizes that he is a detriment to her and chooses to take his own life.

This movie is so completely hard to watch, I feel incredibly bad for all of the characters. It’s a story of success, failure, love, pane, hope and hopelessness. This story has been remade twice the original was in 1937 and the other remake was in 1976. I have only seen this one but it looks like it was the only one that has a lot of big stage productions added to the story, Born in a trunk reminds me of Gota Dance from Singin' in the Rain. James Mason will always be the bad guy form North by Northwest for me but this role shows his more dramatic side, his performance was masterfuly done. 

This version of the film had some parts added from the uncut version of the film. The sound was usable and they laid it down with stills that were taken from the production of those sense. Original the film was 196min long and was then cut down to 182min. The Studio was concerned about the length and how many times it could be run in the theater so it was further cut down to 154min. The director George Cukor was not happy about the changes to the film but for the lengthy addition of Born in a Trunk he was already wrapped from the film.

My take away:

I didn't know this was a remake, I guess we will always have remakes in this industry. I should take some time and track the ebb and flow if ideas in Hollywood. When a new idea comes along and how many times they remake it. I am just wondering when they are going to do remakes of Harry Potter or Star Wars. I wonder if they are marked by new technology in film making, Superman the original was made when the technology was vastly inferior to when it first came out. King Kong is another example of this. Hummmm I need to dig further on this.

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