A STAR IS BORN--Restored to Its Original Length!
A Star is Born is one of those rare musicals that is as brilliant and as memorable for its acting performances--and for its complex and realistic portrayal of the show business world--as it is for its dazzling musical numbers. Judy Garland made a triumphant return to the screen as both singer and dramatic actress in the role of Vicky Lester, the band singer who is discovered and made into a star by Norman Main, an ex-matinée idol on a drunken decline. James Mason gives a truly singular performance as the ironic, suave, entertaining and ultimately self-destructive Norman Main.
In 1954, two months after the film's release, the studio cut A Star Is Born by 30 minutes to please exhibitors while George Cukor was out of the country. No effort was made to save the cut footage intact. In addition to the loss of three complete musical numbers, the cuts robbed the film of key dramatic scenes in which the romance between Judy Garland and James Mason develops with a delightful--and carefully charted--effect of spontaneity. Under the cutter's scissors, the film became what Cukor later called “a totally fragmented picture.... Neither Judy Garland nor I could ever bear to see the final version.”
Now, nearly 30 years later, the missing 30 minutes of A Star Is Born have been reconstructed and restored to the film by the Academy's Preservation Department. The musical numbers--“Lose That Long Face,” “Here's What I'm Here For,” and the “Shampoo Commercial"--have been reinstated in their entirety along with fragments of the dramatic scenes. Another ten minutes of missing footage have been restored to the film through the use of color-tinted production stills that have been re-filmed to correspond to the soundtrack. The complete, original stereophonic soundtrack has been revived in 4-track stereo--and all this is beautifully integrated into a virgin, original color print!
The restoration of A Star Is Born is largely the project of Ron Haver, film curator at the L. A. County Museum of Art, who emerged from underground vaults and warehouses with the footage after nearly a year-long search. With the financial backing of Warner Bros. and film stock contributed by Eastman-Kodak, The Academy Foundation was able to reconstruct the film with the footage, stills and soundtrack Haver had found.
The cutting of A Star Is Born remained a subject of great sadness for George Cukor throughout his life. Cukor, who endorsed the restoration project, died last year on the night before he was to view the test reel of his reconstructed masterpiece.