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A Star is Born at the Oscars

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  • Sab227
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    #112254

    Do you guys think the 1954 version of A Star is Born starring Judy Garland and James Mason should have got any recognition from the Oscars? And do you guys think it should have been nominated for best picture?

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    Logan
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    #112256

    It received six Oscar nominations. Grace Kelly really was the best actresss of the year (counting Rear Window and Dial M for Murder). Deserving of a BP nom? Yes.

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    JayDF
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    #112257

    Should have been in both Picture and Director races.  Lawd have mercy when I think about tripe like Three Coins the Fountain in there!!!  Also Cukor always known for his great work with performers really does direct the camera like he never did before or after for that matter.

    Judy was robbed BIG  TIME!!!  Grace Kelly was ok at best in THE COUNTRY GIRL, even though she was terribly miscast.  They uglied her up, but it didn’t work visually and was far too attractive to this play this particular role…much like Michelle Pfeiffer in FRANNKIE AND JOHNNY.  Kelly having two major box office Alfred Hitchcock films in the same year was certainly a big help.  She also won other awards including NYFC so who knows what kinda kool aid critics and academy members were drinnking when voting.

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    Scottferguson
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    #112258

    Remember the restored version is not the truncated one (reedited quickly after initial dates) that most audiences saw. That likely had an impact of the reaction.

    Kelly won for all her films that year and for deglamming.

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    JayDF
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    #112259

    True…I only saw that version once on an old VHS from the public library when I was maybe 12 or so and despite reading about all the changes in the restored version it had been so long I really didn’t remember enough to form an opinion between the two.  I do remember however, at the tender age of 12 or so, getting goose bumps every time Judy sang.

    Remember the restored version is not the truncated one (reedited quickly after initial dates) that most audiences saw. That likely had an impact of the reaction.

    Kelly won for all her films that year and for deglamming.

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    tonorlo
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    #112260

    Had it not been for the cuts that were made to the film in October of 1954, the laudatory critical reviews (one of which predicted the film to do at least $25 million in box office receipts) and the “event” status that surrounded the film at the time (Garland’s comeback in a $6 million project nine months in the making) make it very likely that the film could have wound up on the Best Picture ballot. The one negative that came up consistently even among the best reviews for the film, however, was that it was a shade too long, and Jack Warner authorized the cuts without director George Cukor’s consultation (Cukor was out of the country, preparing “Bhowani Junction” at the time). Cukor forever after decried what had been done to the film, though Warner erroneously claimed from time to time that Cukor had been consulted about the cuts. (Ironically, Cukor died the night before he was to view Ronald Haver’s “restored” version of the film in 1983.) 

    “Star”  was re-reviewed by many critics after the cuts were made, and subsequently, box office receipts dwindled. At least one theatre owner wrote an irate letter to Warner Bros. declaring that the “long version” had done great business at his theatre, and that at the very least, both versions should be made available to theatre owners so that they could decide which version they wanted to show. This idea, of course, went unheeded.

    The cuts essentially killed a potential golden goose, and it was only thanks to some creative bookkeeping that the film ultimately went on record as breaking even, though in reality it didn’t even gross a quarter of the originally projected $25 million. As such, Jack Warner seems to have simply washed his hands of the film, and made no attempt to garner any Oscar attention for “Star” after the box office decline. It’s quite a testament to what remained of the film after the fact that it managed to get the six nominations it received.

    Mason suffered from being in an unusually strong Best Actor lineup, and his role shared very similar qualities to that of Bing Crosby’s nominated performance in “The Country Girl.” He also shied away from the spotlight being cast on “Star” even in the early days of its initial success, bypassing the highly hyped Hollywood opening for the film in September of 1954.

    Garland had a great deal going for her, but the cuts made to the film as well as Grace Kelly’s “It Girl” status at the moment wound up hurting her. Over the years, many have tried to say that residual Hollywood rancor left over from Garland’s stormy final months at MGM cost her the Oscar, and while there may be a kernel of veracity in that, it almost certainly played in to a lesser degree than popular mythology would have it. There was a pronounced huff in several quarters of the industry following Garland’s loss, and while Kelly remained a popular box office attraction, she never again attained the critical praise and artistically vital projects that she had in 1954 (still a pretty respectable constellation of projects for a single year, even by today’s standards).        

    “Star” is also often seen today as a worthy winner of two more of its nominations, for Best Song and Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. Granted the nominees among the Best Song category (in addition to “Star”‘s Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin) included the likes of Irving Berlin, Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne, Ned Washington, and Dmitri Tiomkin, so there was definitely an apples vs. oranges quality to selecting this winner. Also, the bluesy “Man That Got Away” was in stark contrast to the more conventional pop-friendly winner, “Three Coins in the Fountain.”

    As for Best Scoring, the decidedly milquetoast “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” triumphed primarily due to the fact that it was a surprise smash (beyond MGM’s expectations), garnering not just the praise of critics but also the endorsement of President Eisenhower, and among other honors, getting the Best Picture nomination that almost certainly would have gone to “Star” under different circumstances.  

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