A lavish musical production based on the life of British music hall and Broadway star Gertrude Lawrence, STAR! was created as a vehicle for Jule
The movie did well in previews, but when it hit the theaters, the audience did not respond. One of the problems could have been the public's lack of familiarity with the film's subject, Gertrude Lawrence. Wise also suggests: "When you have a hit like WEST SIDE STORY or THE SOUND OF MUSIC, you have big word-of-mouth and a lot of repeat viewers, people who come back several times. STAR! didn't get the word-of-mouth and certainly didn't get the repeat viewers...."*
The film also had the misfortune of coming out after a popular similar film, FUNNY GIRL. Nevertheless, STAR! is a fine effort, with Wise using his craftsmanship to recreate a bygone era.
In the early 1940's Gertrude Lawrence, while starring
in the Broadway musical Lady in the Dark, watches a newsreel
summary of her career and recalls her past: In 1915 as a young woman, Gertrude leaves her mother's home in Bermondsey and goes to Brixton to join her father, Arthur, and his partner Rose, who are performing at a seedy music hall. Deciding that she also wants a career on the stage, Gertrude eventually lands a chorus job in London in an Andre Charlot revue. There her deliberate attempts to steal the limelight nearly lose her job, but the company's stage manager, Jack Roper, intervenes. Gertrude marries Jack, but his idea of marriage conflicts with her professional ambitions, and they divorce shortly after the birth of their daughter, Pamela. Helped by childhood friend and confidant
Noel Coward, Gertrude stars in Charlot's first New York revue
instant acclaim. Each success makes it more difficult for her
to choose among
her suitors, however, and she juggles diplomat Sir Anthony Spencer,
actor Charles Fraser, and New York stockbroker Ben Mitchell,
committing herself to any of them. Similarly, her preoccupation
career has also led to estrangement from her rapidly-maturing
Pamela. Eventually, Gertrude's increasingly extravagant lifestyle
to bankruptcy, and she collapses from overworking to pay off
debts. Following an enormous success with Noel Coward in his
Tonight at 8:30, Gertrude goes on to do her first dramatic role
in Susan and God.
After a long run, Gertrude sees Richard Aldrich, a New England
she had met earlier while playing Private Lives in London.
initially hostile toward him, Gertrude agrees to appear in Skylark
Aldrich's Cape Cod playhouse; and after scoring a personal triumph
in Lady in the Dark Gertrude marries Aldrich.
From the AFI Catalog of Feature Films
|175 min. Robert Wise Productions; Distributed by: Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.; Directed by: Robert Wise; Produced by: Saul Chaplin; Screenplay by: William Fairchild; Edited by: William Reynolds; Director of Photography: Ernest Laszlo; Music by: Lennie Hayton; Production Design by: Boris Leven; Sound by: Murray Spivack; Costumes by: Donald Brooks; Make-up by: William Buell; Hair by: Hal Saunders;|
|Julie Andrews (Gertrude Lawrence), Richard Crenna (Richard Aldrich), Michael Craig (Sir Anthony Spencer), Daniel Massey (Noel Coward), Robert Reed (Charles Fraser), Bruce Forsyth (Arthur Lawrence), Beryl Reid (Rose), John Collin (Jack Roper), Alan Oppenheimer (Andre Charlot), Richard Karlan (David Holtzman), Lynley Laurence (Billie Carleton), Garrett Lewis (Jack Buchanan), Elizabeth St. Clair (Jeannie Banks), Jenny Agutter (Pamela), Anthony Eisley (Ben Mitchell), Jock Livingston (Alexander Woollcott), J. Pat O'Malley (Dan), Harvey Jason (Bert), Damian London (Jerry Paul), Richard Angarola (Cesare), Matilda Calnan (Dorothy), Lester Matthews (Lord Chamberlain), Bernard Fox (Assistant to Lord Chamberlain), Murray Matheson (Bankruptcy judge), Robin Hughes (Hyde Park speaker), Anna Lee (Hostess), Don Crichton (Gertrude's "Limehouse Blues" dance partner), Peter Church (Newsreel narrator), Jan Gernat (Stage manager), Conrad Bain (Salesman at Cartier's), Cast--The Daffodil Girls: Jeanette Landis (Eph), Dinah Anne Rogers (Molly), Barbara Sandland (Mavis), Ellen Plasschaert (Moo), and Ann Hubbell (Beryl)|