A Star Is Born was a great 1937 moneymaker and it’s an even greater picture in its filmusical transmutation.
Unfolded in the showmanly adaptation is a strong personal saga which somehow becomes, in a sense, integrated into the celluloid plot. The reel and the real-life values sometimes play back and forth, in pendulum fashion, and the unspooling is never wanting for heart-wallop and gutsy entertainment values.
Judy Garland glitters with that stardust which in the plot the wastrel star James Mason recognizes. And her loyalties are as Gibraltar amidst the house of cards which periodically seem to collapse around her and upon him.
From the opening drunken debacle at the Shrine benefit to the scandalous antics of a hopeless dipsomaniac when his wife (Garland) wins the Academy Award, there is an intense pattern of real-life mirrorings.
Whatever the production delays, which allegedly piled up a near-$5 million production cost, the end-results are worth it.
[Version reviewed is the original 182-min. premiere one. Pic was subsequently cut to 154 mins. A 1983 partial restoration runs 170 mins.]
1954: Nominations: Best Actor (James Mason), Actress (Judy Garland), Color Costume Design, Color Art Direction, Scoring of a Musical Picture, Song (‘The Man That Got Away’)