Of all Hollywood's heartbreakers, this must be one of the saddest. Made at a time when Garland was fast approaching final crack-up, the story of the rise of a young singing star at the expense of the actor she loves and yearns to keep intact (Mason) seemed to touch exactly the right raw nerves in its performers to make it a major discomfort to watch. Garland's tremulous emotionalism, which so often left her unwatchable, is here decently harnessed to a story which makes good sense of it and to a man worth yearning for. But the acting honours belong to Mason: whether idly cruising the LA dance-halls for a new woman, sliding into alcoholism, or embarrassing everyone at an Oscar ceremony, he gives a performance which is as good as any actor is ever allowed. Previewed at 182 minutes, the film was promptly trimmed by Warners and released at 152 minutes. The version reissued in 1983 features much of the excised footage, rediscovered in archives. Many scenes admirably fill gaps in the original, a few are redundant, but it's a major work of movie archaeology, and a very good wallow. CPea.
Cast and crew