A STAR IS BORN: DELUXE EDITION
MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Studio: Warner Bros.
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Judy Garland and James Mason star in this remake of the 1937 film about a beloved actor falling from grace and the rise to stardom of his protege and lover. Garland plays a lounge singer who is tapped by an alcoholic actor on his way out of favor, and she soon becomes the next big thing in Hollywood. This new video release includes the 1983 reconstruction, which runs 176 minutes.
WHAT I LIKED
While I like some of the classic musicals, I’ve never been a die-hard fan of the genre. Add to this fact the concept of “A Star Is Born” existing outside of the normal wheelhouse for Hollywood musicals, and it’s no surprise that this isn’t my favorite film. Still, I can respect the movie for what it was – a massive comeback for star Judy Garland.
Garland fans will enjoy seeing her bring to life the production numbers, of which there are many. After her own stumbling in Hollywood, this movie shows that Garland still had what it takes to be a star. Likewise, James Mason is quite charming as her problematic lover.
What I found most intriguing about this movie was its departure from the normally glamorous nature of the Hollywood musical. Like “Sunset Boulevard,” “A Star Is Born” shows the seedier side of Hollywood that has always existed (and is overexposed today) but was swept under the rug in the 50s. It deals with some dark material and unpleasant subjects, and it does so with surprisingly stark presentations.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Not being a fan of the movie musical, I got bored with the production numbers. The reconstructed version has additional number, and there’s a middle section of storytelling by singing that seems a bit out of place, like what we saw in “Singing in the Rain.” Still, this is something for the fans, and Garland acolytes will adore this.
Finally, as much as I respect the reconstructed version of the film, it’s a bit distracting and jarring to watch the story unfold about 30 minutes in with production stills and restored audio. It’s the best we’ve got, but this version seems more for the fan and collector than for the casual viewer.
“A Star Is Born” has been re-released on Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand, and the discs include nearly four hours of special features. The first disc of the DVD includes the two parts of the film on a double-sided disc, which is not very logical considering the less-than-three-hour film should fit on a single side.
The second disc features tons of bonus material, including deleted scenes, alternate takes of production numbers, a vintage newsreel and telecast of the movie’s Hollywood premiere at the Pantages Theater, the 1954 WB Exhibitor Reel, additional footage from the post-premiere party at Coconut Grove, trailers for all three version of “A Star Is Born” and more than an hour of audio sessions, music and a vintage radio show.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Judy Garland fans and people who love the film enough to appreciate the reconstructed format.