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“A Star is Born” - (1954) - (Blu-ray)
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner
Genre:
Drama
Release Date:
6/22/10
Special Features:

Alternate takes, wardrobe tests, vintage cartoon, newsreel, 40 page book

Review:

You’d never know this was a remake. Most remakes suffer by comparison because the director usually gets it all right. George Cukor’s remake of the original film which starred Frederic March and Janet Gaynor hits almost all the right notes in its tale of an alcoholic actor Norman Maine (James Mason) who’s career is slowly sliding down hill while Esther Blodgett (Judy Garland) a young, talented singer sees her career begin to soar. ***

Cukor’s film manages to dazzle in a very different way from William Wellman’s 1937 original film. Mason gives a marvelous performance and Garland is impressive throughout Cukor’s first musical film. ---

Image & Sound:

Warner consistently delivers some of the best catalog titles on Blu-ray regardless of how I feel about how sleazy they were with working in collusion rental companies like Netflex and Redbox with keeping their new titles out of circulation as rentals for 30 days (in hopes that film fans will give in and buy them helping to prop up the sagging DVD and Blu-ray sales market). No one is MAKING Netflix and Redbox participate (although they are getting huge financial incentives to do so. I’d urge those of you fed up with this 30 day delay to cancel your Netflix subscription and let them know why in protest if you, like I am, are fed up with this unethical behavior during a recession) so, perhaps, they are truly being the sleazy participants. Either way, I still give props to Warner for continuing to do a terrific job with their catalog titles. ***

“A Star is Born” is no exception it looks marvelous with a detailed transfer that nicely captures the original look of this 3 strip Technicolor film. Blacks are rich and consistent throughout. The detail is very nice with very few scenes that appear soft unless they were intended to look that way (such as some of the close ups of Garland). ***

I have the earlier DVD edition and comparing shows that whomever did the Telecine transfer here didn’t pay attention to the framing—it’s a bit off but it’s not a huge difference but it is noticeable if you pay attention to it. ***

Audio is as meticulously restored as the image quality of the film has been. The dialogue remains clear throughout and the musical scenes truly pop given the age of the movie. ---

Special Features:

This two disc edition is exhaustive when it comes to the special features on the making of the movie, outtakes that have survived and even radio broadcasts of the script. These include wardrobe tests for various scenes includingThe Man That Got Away - Pink Dress, four takes with brown versions of the dress and an alternate takes of That’s What I'm Here For - Alternate Take, Lose That Long Face - Alternate Take,Trinidad Coconut Oil Shampoo - Alternate Take, When My Sugar Walks Down the Street – Outtake, Suicide Scene - Alternate Take

Film Effects Reel/

A Report by Jack L. Warner Vintage Featurette

Huge Premiere Hails 'A Star is Born' Newsreel Montage Vintage Featurette

'A Star is Born' Premiere in Cinemascope

Pantages Premiere TV Special Vintage Featurette

A Star is Bored (1956 WB Cartoon)

Audio Vault

Oliver on the Phone with the Director Discussing Norman - Outtakes

Norman and Esther on the Roof of the Hotel Lancaster - Outtakes

12/28/1942 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast with Judy Garland and Walter Pidgeon

Judy Garland Radio Interview

Born in a Trunk

Someone at Last – Rehearsal

Someone at Last

My Melancholy Baby

Black Bottom

Swanee

Theatrical Trailers of the 1937, 1954 and 1976 Film Versions

Final Words:

A marvelous, sharp looking meticulous transfer Warner deserves kudos for continuing to do some of the best restorations out there. The special features do a nice job of summarizing all the work that went into the restoration of the film (for example clean audio tracks were found and brought over from France for this edition) and giving us plenty of background on the making of the film.

 

 
 
 
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