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A Star Is Born is a 1954 American musical film directed by George Cukor. The cast of the film consists of Judy Garland, James Mason, Jack Carson, and Charles Bickford.

The film was released on September 29, 1954 by Warner Bros.

Plot

Esther Blodgett is a talented aspiring singer with a band, and Norman Maine is a former matinée idol whose career is beginning to decline. When he arrives intoxicated at a function at the Shrine Auditorium, the studio publicist Matt Libby attempts to keep him offstage. After an angry exchange, Norman rushes away and bursts onto a stage where an orchestra is performing. Blodgett takes him by the hand and pretends he is part of the act, thereby turning a potentially embarrassing and disruptive moment into an opportunity for the audience to greet Norman with applause.

Realizing that Esther has saved him from public humiliation, Norman thanks her and draws a heart on the wall with her lipstick. He invites her to dinner, and later watches her perform in an after-hours club. He recognizes her impressive talent, urges her to follow her dream, and convinces her she can break into movies. Esther is surprised that someone of Norman's stature sees something special in her. He offers her a screen test and advises her to "sleep on it", promising to call her the next day. Esther tells Danny McGuire, her bandmate, that she's quitting their upcoming gig to pursue movies in L.A. Thinking she is crazy, he tries to talk her out of it, but Esther is determined. Norman is called away early in the morning to filming and then falls ill. He attempts to get a message to Esther but cannot remember her address. When she doesn't hear from him, she suspects he was insincere. Not disheartened, she takes jobs as a carhop and TV commercial singer to make ends meet, convinced she can make it, with or without Norman.

Norman tries to find Esther, who's had to move from her apartment. Then he hears her singing on a television commercial and tracks her down. Studio head Oliver Niles believes Esther is just a passing fancy for the actor, but casts her in a small film role. The studio arbitrarily changes her name to Vicki Lester, which she finds out when she tries to pick up her paycheck. When Norman finally gets Niles to hear "Vicki" sing, he is impressed and she is cast in an important musical film, making her a huge success. Her relationship with Norman flourishes, and they wed.

As Vicki's career continues to flourish, Norman finds himself unemployed and going downhill fast—an alcoholic in a tough new film business with no tolerance for alcoholics. Norman arrives, late and drunk, in the middle of Vicki's Oscar acceptance speech. He interrupts her speech, rambling and pacing back and forth in front of her. While begging for work from the assembled and embarrassed Hollywood community, he accidentally strikes Vicki in the face.

Vicki continues working and tells Oliver that Norman has entered a sanitarium. After supporting him for so long, she worries about the effect of Norman's alcoholism on her, while acknowledging that he's trying very hard to overcome his addiction. Niles is amenable to offering Norman work, a gesture for which Vicki is grateful, thinking this may be just the boost her husband needs. At the racetrack, Norman runs into Libby, who taunts him and accuses him of living on Vicki's earnings. The resulting fight prompts Norman to go on a drinking binge; he is eventually arrested for being drunk and disorderly and receives ninety days in the city jail. Vicki bails him out and brings him home, where they are joined by Niles. Norman goes to bed but overhears Vicki telling Niles she will give up her career to take care of him. He also hears Oliver say that Norman ruined his own career with his drinking. Finally realizing what he's done to himself, Vicki, his career, and the people around him, Norman leaves his bed, tells Vicki cheerfully that he is going to go for a swim, walks into the ocean, and drowns himself.

At Norman's funeral, Vicki is mobbed by reporters and insensitive fans. Despondent, Vicki becomes a recluse and refuses to see anyone. Finally, her old bandmate Danny convinces her she needs to attend a charity function because she constitutes the only good work Norman did and which he died trying to save. At the Shrine Auditorium, she notices the heart Norman drew on the wall on the night they met and for a moment seems to lose her composure. When she arrives on stage, the master of ceremonies tells her the event is being broadcast worldwide, and asks her to say a few words to her fans. She says, "Hello, everybody. This is Mrs. Norman Maine", which prompts the crowd into a standing ovation.

Cast

  • Judy Garland as Esther Blodgett (Vicki Lester)
  • James Mason as Norman Maine
  • Jack Carson as Matt Libby
  • Charles Bickford as Oliver Niles

Production


Trivia

  • This film helped people see what the film industry was like at the time (just like the first film), during the 50's people were starting to get tv's so to help boost movie going, a lot of musicals were done in the 50's.
  • When Esther made her emotional speech, the director told her to dive deep into her substance abuse to help bring the speech to life.

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