A Star Is Born would prove a triumphant return to the screen for Judy Garland, whose last film had been MGM’s Summer Stock in 1950. Although Cary Grant was offered the role, Judy’s Norman Maine would end up being British actor James Mason, fresh off strong buzz from Julius Caesar. Their Oscar-nominated performances in A Star Is Born are easily among the finest, if not the finest, of their distinguished careers.

A Star is Born Judy Garland

Shortly after filming began, the decision was made to make the movie in the new wide-screen Cinemascope process due to the overwhelming popularity of The Robe (the first release to use the process). Because of this change, several scenes had to be reshot, including one of Garland’s signature numbers, “The Man That Got Away,” written by Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin. This number, seen in the film as a single take lasting over 3-1/2 minutes, is not only one of the high points of A Star Is Born, but of Garland’s entire film career. The scene proved so difficult to light that a new cinematographer, Sam Leavitt, had to be hired to complete the scene to director George Cukor's exacting standards. Thankfully, Cukor, Leavitt, and the crew were able to magnificently light and wisely use every bit of the extra-wide Cinemascope frame, as can be seen in this image featuring Garland and Tommy Noonan as her pianist friend, Danny McGuire.

A Star is Born Cinemascope

Another Cinemascope frame grab, this one from the scene when Norman Maine transforms the unknown Esther Blodgett into the star Vicki Lester.

A Star is Born Norman Maine transform Esther Blodgett into the star Vicki Lester

The four principal actors: Charles Bickford as studio head Oliver Niles, Judy Garland as Vicki Lester, James Mason as Norman Maine, and Jack Carson as studio publicist Matt Libby.

A Star is Born the four principal actors

Doris Day, then filming another Cinemascope musical, Lucky Me, at Warner Bros., visits Judy Garland on the set.

A Star is Born Doris Day visits Judy Garland on the set

James Mason, Judy Garland, and director George Cukor between takes.  Cukor would return to Warner Bros. ten years later to direct My Fair Lady, which was the biggest hit of his career, and the biggest hit in the studio's history up to that point, .

A Star is Born James Mason, Judy Garland, and director George Cukor between takes

A trade ad announcing the World Premiere of A Star Is Born at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre on September 29, 1954.

A Star Is Born at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre

Jack L. Warner, Judy Garland and husband/A Star Is Born producer Sid Luft, and announcer George Fischer (who also appeared in the film) at the Hollywood premiere.

A Star is Born Hollywood premiere

A Star Is Born was released to critical acclaim and box office success in its first two weeks, but exhibitors were complaining about the picture’s mammoth 182-minute running time, which limited the number of showings per day. At studio President Harry Warner’s insistence, and despite the protests of younger brother Jack, all prints of the film (as well as the original negative) were cut down to 154 minutes without the blessing or involvement of George Cukor. However, thanks to a restoration effort led by the LA County Museum of Art’s Ronald Haver, with the backing of the Motion Picture Academy and Warner Bros. in the early 1980s, the entire soundtrack and some of the missing footage from the original release was recovered. Using still photographs in place of the footage that could not be located, this 176-minute restoration is currently available, though there is still hope that a complete print may surface somewhere in the world. Here is the 1983 restoration poster, featuring art by Richard Amsel.

A Star is Born 1983 restoration poster

A STAR IS BORN (1976)

In 1976, Warner Bros. returned to A Star Is Born (1976), this time changing the milieu of the story from the movie industry to the music industry. It was second only to Rocky as the highest-grossing feature film of 1976, and garnered four Academy Award nominations and one win (see below).

A Star Is Born in 1976

Superstar of stage, screen, and music Barbra Streisand plays aspiring singer Esther Hoffman, and Kris Kristofferson is rock star John Norman Howard (note the nods to character names in the previous two versions).

A Star is Born Barbra Streisand plays Esther Hoffman and Kris Kristofferson as John Norman Howard

Director Frank Pierson and crew film Kristofferson in his swimming pool.

A Star is Born crew film Kristofferson in his swimming pool

Kristofferson and Streisand during a recording session for the film’s soundtrack album.

A Star is Born Kristofferson and Streisand recording session

Barbra Streisand looks through the camera viewfinder on location.  At front wearing glasses is legendary cinematographer Robert Surtees, who received his 14th Oscar nomination for his work on A Star Is Born.

A Star is Born Barbra Streisand looks through the camera viewfinder

Songwriter Paul Williams talks to Barbra Streisand on set (director Frank Pierson is seated on the right).  Williams and Streisand co-wrote the song “Evergreen” for the film, which won them an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song, and the Grammy for Song of the Year. It also topped the US Billboard Singles chart for three weeks in March 1977.

A Star is Born Songwriter Paul Williams talks to Barbra Streisand

This billboard could be seen across the street from Warner Bros. Studios from late 1976 through early 1977.

A Star is Born Warner Bros. Studios from late 1976 through early 1977

A STAR IS BORN (2018)

In this new take on the tragic love story, Bradley Cooper plays seasoned musician Jackson Maine, who discovers—and falls in love with—struggling artist Ally (Lady Gaga). She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer…until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.

A Star is Born (2018)

Check out what fans are saying about #AStarIsBorn, now playing in theaters: https://t.co/HnGcU1YToF

— A Star Is Born (@starisbornmovie) October 6, 2018

Own A Star Is Born starring Cooper and Gaga on digital or Blu-Ray/DVD today.

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