Movie of the Week: A Star is Born (1954)

George Cukor directs Judy Garland, James Mason and Jack Carson in this musical remake of the Hollywood romance where one famous husband’s career wanes while his discovery / wife’s flourishes.

Not the original but the best. It mixes cynicism with spectacle beautifully, a real sweet and sour delight of golden age filmmaking. Mason excels as the alcoholic romantic, he has never been better. I feel a cad typing this… Garland maybe is noticeably a decade too old to play the ingenue but her unique cinematic sparkle cannot be diminished. She is simply tremendous in the musical numbers. The version we watched is the slightly Frankensteined edition, where lost scenes are patched together with publicity stills. These moments would have been good cinema if retained but the subplot covered by them is inessential in the grand scheme of things. If you want glitz, tragedy and sweep then Cukor’s A Star is Born is the alternative Hollywood epic of choice. One without a battlefield, loincloth or horse in sight. Get ready to be starstruck!

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