Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
A burnt out "Star!"
on 21 April 2017
This was one of the many "Road Show" movie musicals that just about bankrupted Hollywood in the 'sixties.Every major studio wanted to repeat the astounding success of "The Sound of Music" and convinced themselves that they could do it despite repeated evidence from one flop after another that it was the Rodgers and Hammerstein movie alone that people wanted to see.
This was hardly surprising since shock after shock kept jarring the nerves ( nuclear war threats,assasinations, a major conflict in Asia etc) and "The Sound of Music" was the only show in town that offered three hours of escapism from the horrors.
Of all the many elephantine,empty and vulgar "Music" rip off's none was more puzzling. Why did the same people decide to try to repeat their success with this movie? Surely Hollywood lore dictated a simple sequel; something like " The Trapp Family in America" ? There is a whole, second book by this name by Maria von Trapp that they could have adapted with no trouble and Richard Rodgers had demonstrated that he could write musicals alone following the death of his partner, Oscar Hammerstein
As it has been told in two books this project - a biography of Gertrude Lawrence- was concocted over lunch by messers Wise,Chaplin and Julie Andrews and all agreed that it was a great idea.( Which is what one cocktail too many will do for you)
The result was this disaster. Robert Wise went all "Citizen Kane" ( which he edited) extensively using "old" newsreel footage for effect; Michael Kidd gave us huge,empty production numbers that Broadway stage could have presented - and worst of all Julie Andrews was monumentally miscast.
And it all went on forever. I tried to enjoy it ( I really did) but it was all too much and yet too little. One left the cinema knowing little more about it's subject ( apart from some biographical details that Gertrude Lawrence and Julie Andrews coincidentally shared) and wondering why after all the -literally- song and dance the film just suddenly....stops.
Nothing is made of her life after marrying Richard Aldrich, her success in "The King and I" and sudden death. No details are given ( as they surely would be today) about Lawrence's later life in the closing credits and the audience is simply left hanging.And this is a biography?
Still,Julie still sings well ( in the days when she still could) and wears a seemingly endless wardrobe of costumes (that were supposed to create a whole new fashion but didn't)spectacularly.
But this "Star" died leaving few remnents behind. This DVD - never a likely candidate for the renovation and blu ray treatment- is one of the few. It is worth a look for curiosity if nothing else to see where we were as regards film musicals in the sixties and - more important- to understand why it is that to this day
(and I include "La La Land here) Hollywood simply cannot make movie musicals any more.
"Star!" and it's like killed this genre stone dead.As Frank Sinatra remarked in "That's Entertainment" " You can hang around and hope but I am telling you you will never see it's like again"...