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Star! [DVD] [1968]
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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"...
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on 13 January 2008
From the "Sound of Music" Director - Robert Wise - the majority would expect a film of similar promise - combining bredth, warmth and nostalgia. Not so in this case - or initially - not so in this case.
The story of Gertrude Lawrence (played by Julie Andrews) was released in 1968 and virtually 'bombed'. It disappeared from cinemas after short runs with reviews running from cold to lukewarm.
The first twenty minutes is taken up by Gertrude Lawrence (Julie Andrews) in a preview theatre watching the screening of her own life....Shown in sepia the 'film sections' within the film are crass, badly directed and slapstick to an embarrassing degree.
The film then moves 'back in time' to full screen colour film.
Here the movie shows what a 'gem' it is. Daniel Massey and Julie Andrews as Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence give superb performances, emanating the affection that existed between the characters in real life.
The musical numbers are slick, the script with Massey's one liners are both hilarious and incisive.
There was a 25 year short revival of the film in 1993. If the early section of 'STAR' had been cut to a series of mixes lasting around one or two minutes...then I'm sure the film would have received rave reviews on initial release. Cut the beginning and the film is well worth a look.

David Turner (London UK)
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on 15 October 2011
This gorgeous film is stunning in every respect. They certainly don't make them like this anymore.

The songs: wonderful classics, superbly orchestrated ! Julie Andrews: funny, enchanting ! The sets and costumes: wow ! Direction and photography: breathtaking. This is the fascinating story of up-front stage star, Gertrude Lawrence.

Make no mistake, "Star" is one of the most dazzling and entertaining musicals to come out of Hollywood, with Andrews at her very best. Amongst many highlights, the concluding number ("Jenny", by Kurt Weill) is possibly the most astonishing musical scene ever filmed -you hang onto your seat !

Don't miss this -and watch it on the biggest screen you've got.
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on 1 January 2014
An uneven but extremely interesting film,giving a somewhat "peaches and cream"view of a very talented difficult,highly charged actress who some might well have said was a total pain in the ass while she was alive.A lady who did'nt think that social norms had anything to do with her,and who considered Noel Coward-something of an"individual"himself!-to be her sidekick,and someone who could be relied upon to clear up the wreckage she left behind her,on occasion!
I love Julie Andrews as an actress,she unfailingly brings the characteristics of strength,fairness,common sense,and emotional transparency to her performances,a woman to fall in love with,in fact,but this role.is her undoing.. She's just not tough and vicious enough,Gertrude Lawrence was not one of lifes victims,she was a predator! The ending of the film is incomplete,you're left wondering what happened in the rest of her life,but if your interest is of the prurient kind,its not too difficult to find out, from Google and Youtube,and you can be sure that"Our Gertiy"won't let you down. Her relationship with Yul Brynner has a certain piquancy about it,just right for a wet sunday afternoon read,Vicar,and I fell about laughing!
Well worth buying,the quality nof this dvd is very high,and it will become a valued item in anybodys collection of gems from yesteryear!
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on 24 December 2016
Unfortunately the DVD quality does not fit well with modern TVs. Close ups are fine, so it is not too much of a problem. The extras are poor.
It does look like Star was made to provide an accurate reflection on Gertrude Lawrence's life and career and I think Julie Andrews plays the part really well with humour and depth. Julie's singing is an absolute delight as always and the Burlington Bertie sequence is the best I have ever seen. She is supported by a strong cast who provide excellent performances, but the film was a little too long. Even so, if a blu ray version came out I would buy it again as this film shows more of Julie Andrews talent and it does warrant watching more than once.
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on 29 December 2014
Appallingly underrated on its first showing in the 60s, this shows Julie Andrews at her versatile best. Great production numbers and lavishly set and costumed. A real treat. WHY was it so disliked???
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on 1 July 2016
a complete bore, it was the start of Julie's flops, together with her tv series that only lasted one series due to very poor ratings, years later she had a little revival with Victor Victoria, a certain lady came along and Julie was put in the shade and that was Barbra Streisand., who was offered every musical film.
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on 15 October 2011
This is a wonderfully entertaining musical from every point of view. It's well-written, stunning to look at, with marvellous songs, top-notch cast, and Julie Andrews at her delightful best: funny, touching -and surprisingly edgy.

Hollywood's most skilful technicians went to work on this lavish spectacle about theatre-life, and it shows. No detail is overlooked, the lighting, costumes and scenery are a continual feast for the eye, but none of this upstages Julie Andrews, who effectively dominates the show as Gertrude Lawrence.

The film contains one of the most exciting visual moments Hollywood ever came up with. The elaborate final number, Kurt Weil's 'Jenny', begins like an old newsreel, with a small screen in black-and-white, with croaky sound. From a dizzy circus trapeze we see Andrews slide at increasing speed down a rope towards the camera, with a bang she crashes through a paper circle: suddenly the grainy little image jumps to breathtaking cinemascope with dazzling colour, and the sound explodes into stereophonic reality.

It's as if she has burst through the cinema screen and jumped into vivid life. After all this time the extraordinary shock of this brilliant moment still takes the breath away, nearly knocks you out of your seat.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 November 2015
Star! is a 1968 American musical film starring Julie Andrews, the film is based upon the life and career of the glamorous British performer Gertrude Lawrence.

The film opens in 1940, with Lawrence in a screening room watching a documentary film about her life. The film then goes back to how her career all started in 1915 and we see her reunited with close childhood friend Noel Coward who provides witty commentary on her amazing career, life and actions.

The sets are lovely and Daniel Massey acts beautifully as Nöel Coward, but as accomplished as Julie Andrews is, somehow she’s not Gertrude Lawrence, she doesn’t capture Lawrence’s tough, determined, ruthless nature. However, the film is a pleasing highly romanticised rose coloured glasses tribute to Lawrence, and it gives a fascinating coverage of her spectacular rise to showbiz fame.

The film has an enormous score, top-flight production, excellent choreography and it is certainly stylish and sharp-edged. Special mention to Andrew’s costume designer Donald Brooks, she has over a hundred costume changes and wears some beautiful clothes. An entertaining film.
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on 1 February 2017
I had to keep reminding myself that this was supposed to be about Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence . Julie Andrews as always is very good , but strangely overqualified and totally wrong in the part The guy playing Coward was embarrassing .Whoever researched their story for this movie did'nt have a clue . The only sequence recognisable was the Red Peppers number from Tonight at 8.30 . Otherwise a total wasted opportunity . Nearly three hours of tedium .
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