A Star Is Born

Released in October 1954 by Warner Bros. Music by Harold Arlen.  Lyrics by Ira Gershwin. Screenplay by Moss Hart, based on an earlier screenplay by Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, and Robert Carson. Directed by George Cukor. Cast included Judy Garland, James Mason, Jack Carson, Charles Bickford, and Tom Noonan.

Highly anticipated as Judy Garland’s return to musical film after her departure from MGM in 1950, Warner Bros. pulled together an impressive array of talent to musicalize the classic Hollywood story of the love between an actress on her way up and a star actor on his way down. Harold Arlen, who composed the score for THE WIZARD OF OZ in 1939, introduced Judy to Ira and his wife Leonore when Garland was cast as Dorothy, and they became lifelong friends.  Ira was Vincente Minnelli’s best man at his wedding to Judy in 1945 and was godfather to their daughter, Liza.  So when it came time to write the score for A STAR IS BORN, Harold and Ira were determined to create not only the perfect songs for her character, but also for Judy herself.

The film was extensively cut after its opening, with a number of the Arlen/Gershwin songs removed; a 1983 restoration returned all of the songs, but not all of the footage. “The Man That Got Away” brought Ira his third and final Academy Award nomination for Best Song (previous nominations had come for “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” and “Long Ago (and Far Away)”). A few years later, he pondered whether to use the word “away” in future song titles!