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Terrence1

"Star!"

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TCM showed this movie a few days ago and I watched it again. I had not seen it in many years. Does anyone remember why this movie failed so badly at the box office? The length (three hours) may have had something to do with it. But it did contain some terrific production numbers, and was nominated for several Oscars, including best song.

 

Terrence.

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I think by the time the movie was released audiences were tired of those big 60's movie musicals. There are some terrific musical numbers ( my favorite is "The Physician") The studio actually cut out some of the numbers and re-released the film under a different title but it still was a flop.

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I just loved Star. Julie Andrews gave a splendid performance throughout. What may have killed it was the ending. It wasn't up lifting or spectacular enough. Although how do you follow after the Jenny number? They didn't resort to doing The King and I as her final bow for some obvious reasons I suppose. Perhaps they should have.

 

Edited by: Im4movies2 on Feb 14, 2011 10:22 PM

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I also love the Jenny number. I think that is about the most physical number I've seen Julie Andrews do. She is nothing less than spectacular!

 

Terrence.

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"I think by the time the movie was released audiences were tired of those big 60's movie musicals."

Amen-not to mention the particular timing of this old fashioned musical.

My dad saved newspapers of important events (JFK, RFK, MLK assassinations, moon landing, local "big deal events" like blizzards and I remember looking at the paper that reported the Martin Luther King assassination and there was a full page ad for a charity screening of "Star!" in downtown Chicago and I remember thinking how out of touch a movie like that was at that time in US history. Also-aside from the musical numbers the movie isn't very good. I've always loved the soundtrack-too bad the CD is no where near as good as the LP, sound wise. You can find a comment on Amazon explaining why the soundtrack CD producers didn't have access to all the original recording tracks.

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I was so glad to see "Star" on TCM-- I really liked it. Some cracking great numbers. Julie rocks, as we already know, but it was also interesting to learn about Gertrude Lawrence, who to me was the star of The King and I. I never knew she was such a big star.

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Star! is one of those big glossy musical bio pics, more fiction than fact that just had the dumb luck of coming at the end of that 60s cycle of movie musicals. Like Hello Dolly!, another superb movie musical produced two years after it by Fox, if just did not have audience interest behind it to succeed.

 

Julie Andrews best performance in a movie musical will always be tied between The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. But it is saying much that she managed to cleanse herself of that 'practically perfect' persona from the aforementioned films to at least attempt playing Gertrude Lawrence in STAR! - a woman hardly known for either her sweetness or light hearted touch.

 

At its heart, I think Star! is flawed because it attempts to go back to the heady days of MGM pre Arthur Freed and the 'integrated musical' format. The numbers in star have absolutely nothing to do with the plot except to loosely chart Miss Lawrence's rise to fame. Yet, even here the premise is flawed, completely overlooking Gertie's success in The King and I on Broadway and glossing over Lady in the Dark with The Saga of Jennie number.

 

The numbers are interesting, but stagebound. The best of them, like Berlington Bertie, The Saga of Jennie, Physician, Someone to Watch Over Me and Forbidden Fruit are amusing because they truly capture the essence of what those stage successes were all about. Translating stage essence to film has never been Hollywood's strong suit and a lot of the other numbers in this film illustrate a short-sightedness so narrowly construed that although we can admire Miss Andrews for her musical interpretations the number as a 'number' in a 'movie' falls short of our expectations.

 

Of course, it did not help the film's reputation that after playing only a month or so they panicked and elected to pull the film from circulation, chop it to death with heavy handed editing and then re-release it as Those Were The Happy Days where it still bombed.

 

Finally thoughts: STAR! is fun to watch but it doesn't rival the very best musicals from its own period.

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"Star!' is very similar to "Funny Girl"- they both are glamorized bio musicals about a famous Broadway star. They both tell rag to riches tale of a talented woman driven to succeed and unable to get the man she loves. "Star!" has too many musical numbers staged in a very similar traditional theatrical style but "Funny Girl" has a couple of truly thrilling cinematic moments specially the "Don't Rain on My Parade" which climaxes in that iconic image of Streissand as Miss Liberty.

The sequel "Funny Lady" never manages to capture the original magic.

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I wish they had included The King and I, because that is when Gertrude Lawrence was faced with her illness of cancer.  A bitter sweet sad ending may have been too much but they could have found something up lifting to conclude the film.  Julie did a studio cast album of The King and I years later.

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"Star!' is very similar to "Funny Girl"- they both are glamorized bio musicals about a famous Broadway star. They both tell rag to riches tale of a talented woman driven to succeed and unable to get the man she loves. "Star!" has too many musical numbers staged in a very similar traditional theatrical style but "Funny Girl" has a couple of truly thrilling cinematic moments specially the "Don't Rain on My Parade" which climaxes in that iconic image of Streissand as Miss Liberty.

The sequel "Funny Lady" never manages to capture the original magic.

I hate virtually every second of FUNNY GIRL.  Never got its appeal, either on stage (which is slightly better), or on film, which is just dreary and full. Streisand is just Streisand, and whether she's supposed to be funny or sad, she just makes the same goofy, pained faced.  Plus, she's NEVER funny.   STAR! is different, in that it is not a book musical.  There are no songs sung by characters as dialog, but only in performance.  My issue with STAR!, is its screenplay, which could have been better.  However, if is superior to FUNNY GIRL, to me, in every possible way.  Not only are the songs, infinitely better.  The leading lady is a far better actress.

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STAR! was a victim of stupidity at Fox.  After about a month, the studio pulled it, because there weren't lines around the block.  Well, there weren't lines around the block for THE SOUND OF MUSIC, either, yet it became the most successful film in motion picture history, because they allowed it to play, slow and steady, and gain word of m o u t h audiences.  Of course, STAR! was never going to be the success TSOM was, (what is?), but it's a really well-made, entertaining film, that did have an audience, and would have had even more of one, had Fox allowed it to find one.  Its presales broke records, so people were willing.  I'd love to see a Blu-ray release, engineered by someone who knows how it's supposed to look.  The DVD is an abysmal shade of beige, which is nothing like how the film looked during its roadshow release, which I saw five times before they pulled it.  I never saw the edited version, and don't ever want to see it.

 

Incredibly, m o u t h is an edited word! 

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Star! is a very good film that is sadly underappreciated. The same holds true for Darling Lili, another wonderful Julie Andrews film.

Great title song version by Sinatra........."If the lady's naughty but proper, If the lady's chicer than chic....."

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The Noel Coward compositions in this musical are A-S-T-O-U-N-D-I-N-G.

One of the best CDs I've ever purchased.

do you like the famous ditty, 'Mack the Knife'? Most people do. Well then buy this collection of tunes. I'm talking Kurt Weill action.

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