A Star is Born... after 3 hours

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ChrisStockslager

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A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostMon Sep 22, 2014 3:30 am

I finally buckled down and have started watching the Garland Star is Born, and there's no denying her talent. Next to Linda Eder, she is easily my favorite singer in that genre. However, watching the TCM restored print, the film just drags and drags and drags on forever! Perhaps the cuts should have remained out without all of the pictures and audio added back in. I'm about half way through the movie, and can't find any instances of the formerly lost footage advancing the plot at all.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostMon Sep 22, 2014 5:03 am

The cut footage doesn't advance the plot as much as it adds to the character development between Norman and Esther. The cut version puts more of a laser-focus on Garland and the basic plot, but looses the human parts of the story and drama you get from James Mason - it strengthens Garland's reaction to his death in the last reel.

That said, I do think it would have been nice to have both the cut and restored versions on the blu-ray so the version commonly seen in theaters at the time would be easily accessible. The cut version, to my knowledge, hasn't circulated since it was syndicated in movie packages for local tv in the 70s or 80s.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostMon Sep 22, 2014 5:16 am

Even with the cuts, this version of the story wallows. Arlen is one of my favorite composers and Ira Gershwin never did a better set of lyrics, but "Born in a Trunk" seems to go on for forty minutes; couldn't she have been born in Bangor, Maine, which would have cut five minutes from the screen time?

Stick with the Janet Gaynor version, where May Robson comes in and kickstarts the plot,

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Fri Feb 12, 2016 3:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostMon Sep 22, 2014 5:21 am

The main plot point the restored version shows is that Mason is basically shanghaied by the studio after he gets Garland to quit the band. He's at sea filming for quite a while and she's left alone to find work and live in that apartment building. Otherwise, it looks like he just forgot about her.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostMon Sep 22, 2014 5:55 am

I have always loved this movie, and saw the restored version theatrically when it was first done. As far as I remember it was the first time they used stills like this to simulate lost footage. I will agree that it is long, and the "Born in a Trunk"'sequence could be shortened, but nothing else can go. Without these restorations many other sequences do not make sense in what was left -- for instance the reference to a "nut burger". I still remember the thrill I felt in the theatre when the stills started to fill in the gaps with the stoppers of footage found in the stock cupboard. I still search Google to see if anymore footage has been found once in a while and dream of a total restoration at least, unless the even longer first cut is found!
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostMon Sep 22, 2014 3:37 pm

boblipton wrote:Even with the cuts, this version of the story wallows. Arlen is one of my favorite composers and Ira Gershwin never did a better score, but "Born in a Trunk" seems to go on for forty minutes; couldn't she have been born in Bangor, Maine, which would have cut five minutes from the screen time?


James Mason agreed with you - he felt that 'Born in a Trunk' told the audience "And now we're going to stop the story in its tracks to give our talented star a chance to show you what she can do."

I think it's representative of a lot of unresolvable tensions in this film - between telling a good film story and the wider real-life narrative of Garland's own comeback and personal myth; between Garland as a stage performer and a film performer (which 'Born in a Trunk' was designed to address), and between the old style of 'showstopper' musical and the newer kind as embodied by South Pacific. It would have made slightly more sense in the roadshow format, but not by much, and the roadshow itself was already a kind of exhibition that was becoming outmoded.

Even without the more literal tensions between Judy Garland, Sid Luft, George Cukor, Warner Bros and anyone else you care to name, it was always going to be very difficult for the film to be anything other than an entertaining polyglot.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostMon Sep 22, 2014 7:17 pm

I like the Janet Gaynor version, but it has problems as well.

It made more sense dramatically in the Garland version for Esther to be a singer in a band and have one of her bandmates give her the "pep talk" at the end. And Judy's performance there is really good. Gaynor's emergence in Hollywood, coming from the "sticks", and having that grandmother march in to make things right just comes off as a little hokey.

So far, no one has made the best version of the story that would combine the best elements of the Garland and Gaynor versions and the intriguing parts of "What Price Hollywood?" into a real humdinger of a movie.

Let's not even talk about Streisand.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostMon Sep 22, 2014 8:32 pm

coolcatdaddy wrote:Let's not even talk about Streisand.


Not seen the Streisand one... dare I ask why it's unmentionable? :P
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostMon Sep 22, 2014 8:34 pm

TerryC wrote: -- for instance the reference to a "nut burger". I still remember the thrill I felt in the theatre when the stills started to fill in the gaps with the stoppers of footage found in the stock cupboard. I still search Google to see if anymore footage has been found once in a while and dream of a total restoration at least, unless the even longer first cut is found!


Yes, Michael Arick has the FULLY uncut version of "A Star Is Born" (1954), it is an inside secret! But he refuses to share it with ANYONE! There was a furore on The Judy Garland Message Board a few years ago when everyone found out he had the fully uncut print, (obviously without all those annoying B&W stills). A petition was drawn up with thousands of names on it; but he still refused to even comment!!!

The thread below spans four years; 2010 when they found out, to 2014 when someone says "We shall just have to wait till he is dead before we get this film...." Even Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft cannot seem to get their hands on the uncut version that he holds.

http://jgmb.judyandfriends.de/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=6038" target="_blank
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostTue Sep 23, 2014 4:00 am

As the first message in the thread is "I just created an online petition asking film producer Michael Arick to share the complete print he is rumored to have", the statement that Mr. Arick's possession of the print is an open secret is meaningless, because a rumor is not a fact. Nor, if Mr Arick has never commented on the thread as you claim -- I didn't bother to check -- and no one has broken into his home and found the print, is there any clear way of confirming or denying this rumor. Silence is not a confirmation. Look up the definitions of the two words, if you doubt me.

Reasons for refusing to comment could range from knowledge of the Streisand Effect to a sense of privacy to the possibly irrational fear of being picketed at his home by a crowd of hysterical cross-dressers in Judy Garland get-up to advice by his lawyer. Perhaps he is not even aware of this petition.

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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostThu Feb 11, 2016 11:27 pm

A hard copy of the petition with over 1,000 signatures was mailed to his home address. He never responded.

We have no proof that he has a print, but a number of well-respected people in the industry think there's a good chance he does have it. Shouldn't he at least be publicly confronted about it?
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostFri Feb 12, 2016 10:05 am

boblipton wrote:Even with the cuts, this version of the story wallows. Arlen is one of my favorite composers and Ira Gershwin never did a better score, but "Born in a Trunk" seems to go on for forty minutes; couldn't she have been born in Bangor, Maine, which would have cut five minutes from the screen time?

Stick with the Janet Gaynor version, where May Robson comes in and kickstarts the plot,

Bob


And it was even longer. A small, still existing scene of "When My Sugar Walks Down The Street" was snipped before release. Don't have the blu ray so I don't know if it's included among the extras.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostFri Feb 12, 2016 11:03 am

busby1959 wrote:A small, still existing scene of "When My Sugar Walks Down The Street" was snipped before release. Don't have the blu ray so I don't know if it's included among the extras.


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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostFri Feb 12, 2016 11:28 am

Now if only David Bradley would surrender his print of London After Midnight.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostFri Feb 12, 2016 2:54 pm

marknyc wrote:
busby1959 wrote:A small, still existing scene of "When My Sugar Walks Down The Street" was snipped before release. Don't have the blu ray so I don't know if it's included among the extras.




Dreadful..... Who's the guy? Looks like Bruce Forsythe.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostFri Feb 12, 2016 2:58 pm

It's Jack McCoy.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostFri Feb 12, 2016 3:12 pm

Looks like Jerry van Dyke. But then, I thought I spotted William Bendix in a Duvivier silent.

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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostFri Feb 12, 2016 3:17 pm

boblipton wrote:Even with the cuts, this version of the story wallows. Arlen is one of my favorite composers and Ira Gershwin never did a better score, but "Born in a Trunk" seems to go on for forty minutes; couldn't she have been born in Bangor, Maine, which would have cut five minutes from the screen time?

Stick with the Janet Gaynor version, where May Robson comes in and kickstarts the plot,

Bob


Something wrong with Bangor?

I remember in a Moss Hart bio, they talked about Hart's SPECIFICALLY cutting the May Robson roll, which I thought was a mistake....

But in the long run (ha ha) this still ranks among my fave musicals. Garland is flawless, although I don't like the "long face gone" number very much.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostFri Feb 12, 2016 3:23 pm

And a new verse for "Lose That Long Face" was just discovered!

http://judygarlandnews.com/2016/02/10/w ... tte-moore/
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostFri Feb 12, 2016 5:41 pm

marknyc wrote:And a new verse for "Lose That Long Face" was just discovered!

http://judygarlandnews.com/2016/02/10/w ... tte-moore/" target="_blank


Wow...that is really superior to the version in the present cut.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostFri Feb 12, 2016 6:24 pm

That's actually made up of all the unused takes of the number.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostSat Feb 13, 2016 4:07 pm

Lose That Long Face was the only footage that was added to the "restored" A STAR IS BORN that improved the picture, in my opinion. The still pictures and soundtrack were interminable distractions.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostSat Feb 13, 2016 4:30 pm

They edit this stuff to make it better, you know. This insistence on adding in every frame that was ever shot for ASIB or Metropolis or another two hours of Warhol's Empire -- "This is the part that really brings home the promise of the first 24 hours!" -- reminds me of going to a folksinger where someone insists on premiering another 93 verses of "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins".

Add to the list of words that people sling around as if it means something else, the word "art".

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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostSat Feb 13, 2016 5:12 pm

I think that in this 21st Century there is some disdain on film-editing in general. Not only do we now try and gather up every bit of film that was left on the cutting room floor in order to try and make a 15 hour version of some classic that was deemed "incomplete" - we now have modern films that seem to be completely devoid of any editing whatsoever. These test our endurance levels as none of them seems to come in under two hours.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostSat Feb 13, 2016 5:14 pm

boblipton wrote:They edit this stuff to make it better, you know.


They also edit to make money - the hack job on ASIB was done after its premiere, to allow more screenings. Cukor refused to ever watch the film after it was butchered.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostSat Feb 13, 2016 5:42 pm

drednm wrote:
Dreadful..... Who's the guy? Looks like Bruce Forsythe.


Looks like Jimmy Thompson. MGM player who did the "Beautiful Girl" number in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostSat Feb 13, 2016 9:37 pm

I saw "Star is Born" twice before the restoration and probably four times after that. I remembered that the unrestored version didn't make any sense, as others noted - in the early part of the film, Mason just disappears and in other sections, the motivations of Mason and Garland just aren't apparent.

I think what the problem is for many people seeing the restoration is that you get the "missing holes" filled in for the plot, but you don't get to see Mason and Garland's acting - just a radio play with stills. If the missing footage ever turned up, it would be an opportunity to rethink views on the movie. It wouldn't play like a musical with interludes of "Lux Radio Theater".
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostSat Feb 13, 2016 10:34 pm

drednm wrote:Something wrong with Bangor?...


Yes--it's not Old Town. Not even Freeport.
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostSun Feb 14, 2016 12:30 am

Ray Faiola wrote:
drednm wrote:
Dreadful..... Who's the guy? Looks like Bruce Forsythe.


Looks like Jimmy Thompson. MGM player who did the "Beautiful Girl" number in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN.


I identified him correctly as Jack McCoy - did everyone just ignore that?
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Re: A Star is Born... after 3 hours

PostSun Feb 14, 2016 12:32 am

coolcatdaddy wrote:I think what the problem is for many people seeing the restoration is that you get the "missing holes" filled in for the plot, but you don't get to see Mason and Garland's acting - just a radio play with stills. If the missing footage ever turned up, it would be an opportunity to rethink views on the movie. It wouldn't play like a musical with interludes of "Lux Radio Theater".


The still sequences make up less than 10 minutes of a three-hour film. I think it's pretty easy to judge the film in its current form.
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