BOONE, NC – Judy Garland fans throughout the High Country and beyond will get to see her second film in a row during Classic Movie Musical Month at the Appalachian Theatre when the 1954 version of “A Star is Born” is shown on September 13 for the first time since its debut 67 years ago. It follows the recent screening of “The Wizard of Oz” at the historic landmark on King Street in downtown Boone.
Curtain is at 7 p.m. with a general admission ticket price of just $5. The Cinema Classics Series is generously sponsored by Nancy and Neil Schaffel.
“A Star Is Born” is an American musical drama film directed by George Cukor, written by Moss Hart, and starring Judy Garland and James Mason. Hart’s screenplay is an adaptation of the original 1937 film, based on the original screenplay by Robert Carson, Dorothy Parker and Alan Campbell. It was the second of four official adaptations of the story, with the first in 1937 starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, the third in 1976 starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, and the fourth in 2018 starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.
The story follows Hollywood actor Norman Maine (James Mason), a celebrity whose star is on the wane, but when he meets aspiring actress Esther Blodgett (Judy Garland), he is inspired to help her, and soon the two appear in a musical together. Now known as Vicki Lester, she marries Norman and finds herself in demand, while his reputation continues to decline, resulting in heavy bouts of drinking. Eventually, Vicki must choose between moving forward with her career and attempting to save her husband.
In December 1952, George Cukor was approached by Sidney Luft, who proposed that the director helm a musical remake of the 1937 film with his then-wife Judy Garland in the lead role. Cukor had declined to direct the original film because it was too similar to his 1932 work “What Price Hollywood?” But the opportunity to direct his first Technicolor film and first movie musical, work with screenwriter Moss Hart, and especially with Garland, appealed to him, so he accepted.
“A Star Is Born” would be Garland’s first film since she negotiated release from her MGM contract and was promoted heavily as her comeback role. For her performance, Garland was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, one of six nominations for the film. When the Oscar for Best Actress went to Grace Kelly for “The Country Girl” instead of Garland, Groucho Marx sent Garland a telegram reading: “Dear Judy, this is the biggest robbery since Brink’s.”
The film did win two Golden Globe Awards for both Garland and co-star Mason. In 2000, the 1954 movie was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” It ranks #43 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Passions list and #7 on its list of greatest musicals. The song “The Man That Got Away” was ranked #11 on AFI’s list of 100 top songs in films.
The film opening to exceptional critical acclaim. The consensus, according to the review compendium Rotten Tomatoes, was 98% approval rating, stating that, “A Star Is Born is a movie of grand scope and intimate moments, possibly featuring Judy Garland’s greatest performance.” Variety felt the “casting is ideal; the direction sure; the basic ingredients honest and convincing all the way.” Another critic applauded Garland’s performance, writing she “has never appeared to better advantage than she does in this film; she not only makes the most of her exceptional musical talents, but also endears herself to the audience with her highly sympathetic portrayal of a wholesome young woman…” Time wrote that Garland “gives what is just about the greatest one-woman show in modern movie history.”
The App Theatre’s Cinema Classic Movie Musicals film series continues with “Singing in the Rain” (1952) on Sept. 20, and the movie musical “Grease” (1978) on Sept. 26 to commemorate the birthday of the late Australian singer and actress Olivia Newton-John, star of the popular film. While the App Theatre’s online ticketing system is accessible 24/7, customers can avoid the online service fees by visiting the lobby box office between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. from Tuesday through Friday, or one hour prior to showtime for each film. For a complete performance schedule of all upcoming events, or to sign up for the theatre’s e-blast distribution list, visit the organization’s website at www.apptheatre.org
Courtesy of the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country.