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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 6:44 pm 
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The restored 176 minute version of George Cukor's masterpiece with Judy Garland in her breathtaking comeback role and James Mason in one of his finest performances. A plethora of extras including outtakes of "The Man That Got Away", deleted song "When my Sugar Walks Down the Street" Premiere newsreel footage and more.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2005 10:56 pm 
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Reading through the HTF chat Epstein says this title won't be done in a future ultra-res disc as it isn't a three strip movie. A quick look at the credits shows it is indeed a 1953 Technicolor production (although the 80s restoration used for this disc is fairly obviously an Eastman print - you can always tell by the "popping" on the optical shots.) Is it possibly not three strip because it's in 'Scope? (i.e. shot on single strip Eastman color neg and printed in Technicolor?) Anyone have any other information about this?


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 7:15 am 
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No widescreen movie has ever been filmed in 3-strip-Technicolor. "A Star is born" was filmed on Eastman stock and printed by Technicolor.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 9:17 am 
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Merci for that. I thought as much (but have seen two gorgeous Techni Prints of this in the old 156 minute version.)


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 5:33 pm 
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Is the original (non-"restored") version of this film available anywhere on DVD? The American DVD seems to contain just the revised three-hour version with half-finished (or 1/10 finished) scenes, stills, extra production numbers, etc. It's interesting, if a bit difficult to watch at times. I'd like to see the release version very much.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 6:35 pm 
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I agree with you it would be great to have the 154 minute version without the annoyance of the still shots etc, in addition to the restoration. Or perhaps a seamlesly branched DVD.

During the last HTF chat with Warner, someone mentioned this was being worked on. Good as it is the current DVD is clearly taken from an Eastman interpositive and has that tell-tale Eastman "popping" on opticals, dissolves etc. Ironically the inserted restoration footage looks like pristine Technicolor. There are certainly 35 IB prints of the 154 version here and there and it would be nice if Warner were to use them next time around.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:52 am 
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Watching A Star Is Born last night was amazingly frustrating for me. It has moments of brilliance (especially the Swanee number) but in between them, it feels sloppily directed and edited. Those montages of stills didn't work for me. I guess it was because the film was too long (nearly 3 hours) so they decided to speed up by using the stills. At least that was the impression I got.

And another thing I'm not sure about is the ending - "This is Mrs. Norman Maine". I realize that the core of the film is the love story of Esther and Norman more than Esther's rise to stardom. But I wasn't convinced by the ending.

But on the plus side, A Star Is Born has phenomenal Cinemascope cinematography - simply breathtaking - especially the exterior shots of the Malibu oceanside house. Judy Garland and James Mason gave their best - really the only reason to watch this film.

I'm curious what others think of the Cukor film. Didn't Cukor once say that he considered A Star Is Born his masterpiece? Well if that's the case, I'd have picked Holiday.


Last edited by Michael on Tue Jul 17, 2007 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:11 am 
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Michael wrote:
Those montages of stills didn't work for me. I guess it was because the film was too long (nearly 3 hours) so they decided to speed up by using the stills.

I think what you're referring to is the attempt at "restoration" of the complete film. The film footage no longer survives, but the audio tracks do, so Warners created this incomplete "complete" version of the film using stills. The unfortunate thing is that, as the above posters mention, there's no way to see the film on DVD in its original wide release form.

I don't love the film enough to watch it often, but I do think it's probably Judy's best acting performance, and I do love the music. I'll pop the DVD in every now and then to watch the big "born in a trunk" medley or "The Man that Got Away" or even the "meet cute" with "You Gotta Have Me Go with You." The rest of the film doesn't sustain those kinds of highs.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:35 am 
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Matt, thanks for relocating my initial post to the right place. I'm sorry for not looking up in the first place...for some reason, I didn't think of the film as a Warners title.

Judy should had won the Oscar. James Mason is brilliant as always but I adore him the most in Lolita. No one plays "pathetic" men better than Mason.

It probably sounds ridiculous but that scene when Norman walks into the ocean as Esther sings from her kitchen feels very Mizoguchi...the sense of loss and longing. That is a sad but still so ethereal moment.

A question for those of you who have seen the release version, how would you compare this to the restoration version? I mean, does the release version have a better flow? Does it feel "complete" even without the restoration/stills,etc? I saw the release version when I was a little boy but I can't remember it too well.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 11:55 am 
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Few musicals are as powerful dramatically as the 1954 A Star is Born, I feel. James Mason is incredible in this film (was he ever less than brilliant?) and I agree that no one played "pathetic" as effectively as he. Strange that he was never Knighted. I'm dying to see Jack Clayton's, The Pumpkin Eater (1964, written by Pinter, shot in bw by Oswald Morris), but I doubt that Sony even know they own it. At least we'll see Bigger Than Life soon, via the BFI. I saw it in 35mm two years ago and was blown away by Mason's performance, but it's a weird film! And another example of Fox arbitrarily using CinemaScope, making for awkward blocking of what should be intimate, intense scenes.

Anyway, I'd like to see Warner give us the 154-minute cut. I think that this is a story that could have been told in two hours - the 1937 film proves this, obviously. I will never, ever watch the 1976 rock remake! I saw the trailer once and I didn't know whether to laugh or vomit. It's movies like this that Mystery Science Theater should take apart.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 5:20 pm 
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Person wrote:
I'm dying to see Jack Clayton's, The Pumpkin Eater (1964, written by Pinter, shot in bw by Oswald Morris

Just saw it yesterday for the second time and yes, Mason really is very good and quite memorable for such a short screen time. But the film is really Bancroft's and it's quite bewildering that she didn't win the Oscar, what with her nomination and all.

Beautiful film, too. Clayton made a filmic trilogy of sorts dedicated to children (The Innocents, The Pumpkin Eater and Our Mother's House) and they all stand the test of time quite proudly. British filmmaking at its very best.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 5:44 pm 
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Lino wrote:
Just saw it yesterday for the second time

Lucky boy! Did it have a Sony/Columbia logo at the begining? Was it letterboxed?

Our Mothers House is also overdue a DVD release. I think it's with Warner now.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 5:53 pm 
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I think The Pumpkin Eater will be playing on TCM next week Thursday. Lino, thanks for bringing this up because I almost forgot to schedule the recording since I will be vacationing in NYC all next week.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 6:03 pm 
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Person wrote:
Lino wrote:
Just saw it yesterday for the second time

Lucky boy! Did it have a Sony/Columbia logo at the begining? Was it letterboxed?

Actually, no. It had nothing at the beginning. And yes, it was shown in its correct AR and from a restored print. And the B/W cinematography is excellent. It's that sort of creamy grey variety, which I'm a particular fan of. Bancroft looks great in this movie.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:04 pm 
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Restored print and letterboxed? Crikey. I wonder if a DVD is planned? Ossie Morris was an awesome cinematographer in both b&w and color and any format. But he didn't get on with Kubrick on Lolita, yet it still looks amazing. Carol Reed's, The Key (1958, bw CinemaScope) also deserves a release, Sony. DD Entertainment have licensed many of Sony's Hammer horror films as well as The Wrong Box for UK release later in the year, so hopefully, we'll see many classic UK films gathering dust in Sony's vaults in 2008.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 11:36 pm 
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Few musicals are as powerful dramatically as the 1954 A Star is Born

Strictly speaking I don't really think Star is Born is a Musical. The 20 minute Born in a Trunk sequence which was added to the original after the cuts were made, and directed by Richard Barstow perhaps pushes the film briefly into that mode - certainly giving Judy's persona that of a musical star. But all the remaining musical numbers are entirely diegetic, and they don't spring out of nowhere to drive the action. And Judy's film persona is left largely untouched by the screenplay.

The Man that Got Away has the power of a big dramatic "discovery" scene, which it literally is. And even Put on that Happy Face is an ironic "pickup" after Judy's big breakdown scene. But I don't think of Star as a Musical in the true sense of the term.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 3:47 am 
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"Do you always sing like that?"

The first four beats begin. The palms begin to sweat, the body starts to shake a little. The brass quietly kicks in, the jaw slowly descends, as Judy - just standing there, no props, no fancy dress, no nuthin' - glides in to The Man That Got Away. Cukor's sublime eye just keeps us there with no need to cut. He knows, we know, that this is what it's all about. The song. The singer. Judy continues, the hand taking the quiff higher, eyes melting into the distance of what's been lost, the little that remains, hoping for some future connection. With the arms now outstretched, she hits it. Lost in emotion, one can only shed those tears.

The come-down. Judy sits down by the piano, the reds and blues warming her soul. The smile. The proud, 'fuck, I nailed that one' wink. We're left a little breathless. The awe lasts a lifetime.

"Do you always sing like that?"


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 5:55 am 
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Exactly. It's not really a musical! It's one of the great dramas.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 7:11 am 
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Yes, a truly great drama.

I must be one of the few who actually loves the photo inserts. Similar in a way to The Magnificent Ambersons, it reminds one how fragile all this art and life really is. I couldn't imagine the film now any other way, with those magnificent voices (they had voices then) beckoning from the dark, sepia tinged images, triggering off memories that can play in the mind in different ways each time there's a viewing (which is alot around here).

It's also the one to show Judy dis-believers. The Man That Got Away especially never fails to convert.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 4:23 pm 
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I'm not big on Musicals. I don't know what the criteria is. The music has to be non-diegetic? Fair enough. #-o


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 11:35 pm 
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Last thing I intended was to upset Uncle Person.

After writing that I had nightmares for days rethinking my key criteria for the Musical. Indeed diegetic or non-diegetic music has little to do with it, but I am quite fond of another distinction which says that in non-Musicals the Musical numbers arise FROM the narrative, whereas in Musicals it's the numbers themselves that drive the narrative.

Certainly if you try to imagine the restored or even the 154 minute versions of Star and remove Born in a Trunk (which I happen to really like) you come up with a very differently balanced picture. Certainly any "true" restoration should surely have had the guts to plonk back the Preview sequence (although the soundtrack for this might also be lost) and actually cut the Barstow material (perhaps leaving it on the disc as an extra.)


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 11:04 am 
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I'm now reading Ronald Haver's A Star Is Born: The Making of the 1954 Movie and Its 1983 Restoration. Fascinating book, wonderfully researched.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 1:40 pm 
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Check it out, they're restoring it in 6k resolution - it should take 4 to 6 months, but expect a BD and DVD release sometime after that.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 5:12 pm 
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And I've already expressed my complete disgust elsewhere with Ned Price's horrible job on The Searchers elsewhere. These are people who "know better" than DP Winston Koch or the people who struck the initial IBs and give us their fucking version of the color palette. No thanks

I don't trust them them to get anything right about this.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 6:20 pm 
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Haven't read your other posts, but I'm guessing you believe the colors on the LaserDisc version are correct and the ones on the current Blu-Ray, etc. arent? Robert A. Harris would completely disagree.

Sorry man, but given the track record of an archivist like Harris, he seems more credible.

(BTW, that's Winston C. Hoch.)

yeah, yeah made a typo in my own correction


Last edited by hearthesilence on Wed Jun 25, 2008 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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