Julie Andrews stars as British stage legend Gertrude Lawrence, a glamorous, flamboyant and charismatic personality - A woman who is both "maddening and infuriating" and "probably the most beautiful and entrancing creature ... more »ever to walk onto a stage." Robert Wise's lavish musical recalls the golden era of musical theatre, from 1912 to 1940. Lawrence rise from irrepressible chorus girl in English music halls to become the toast of two continents. Her lifelong friend Noel Coward (Daniel Massey) provides witty commentary as Gertie finds company in a number of suitors, in search of a love to equal that of an audience.« less
"Julie Andrews portrays British musical theatre star Gertrude Lawrence in "Star!" (1968). Because it was crafted by the same team responsible for "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music," most notably director Robert Wise and producer Saul Chaplin, great things were expected of "Star!" Dismissed by most critics and overshadowed by Barbra Streisand's "Funny Girl," released the very same year, "Star!" is a wonderful movie musical soley due to the performance of Julie Andrews, who delivers a stunning, tour-de-force. Andrews performs a dozen major musical numbers, ranging from seedy music halls circa WWI to Lawrence's stage triumph in the Kurt Weill-Ira Gershwin musical play "Lady in the Dark" in 1941. The score represents some of the best of the Gershwins, Cole Porter, and Noel Coward, the latter winningly played by Coward's godson, Daniel Massey. His performance alone is reason enough to watch the film. However, it the skilled, winning performance of Julie Andrews that makes this long (3 hours) musical biography worth watching. Julie not only sings but dances and acts to perfection, displaying ample versatility. This film would be most appealing to those who love Julie Andrews and the by-gone era of the musical theatre between the two world wars. The film suffers from being somewhat overblown and poorly paced - the thin screenplay gives the viewer little or no insight into what made Gertrude Lawrence really tick, but Julie Andrews delievers the goods - and then some."
Julie Andrews At Her Stunning, Versatile Best
Simon Davis | 02/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Feverish debate always surrounds the true merits of this controversial 1968 musical. Thoughts seem to be continually divided as to whether "Star!",was the "the film that deservedly sank the career of Julie Andrews", or that it was "the greatest piece of work Julie Andrews has ever done on film". From the moment of this film's original release in 1968 they are the two most hotly contested viewpoints about this Robert Wise production that reteamed him with his "The Sound of Music", leading lady Julie Andrews. I tend to think after repeated viewings that "Star!",contains some of the best work by a musical comedy actress in the whole 1960's decade and certainly is one of the crowning achievements in the acting career of Julie Andrews despite the films lack of financial success. Why wasn't this film then the success many feel it ought to have been? Firstly by late 1968 the musical genre was definately going out of style with the advent of much more permissive "socially questioning" dramas such as "Midnight Cowboy", and "Easy Rider", and the period saw a very high number of big budget movies like "Paint Your Wagon", and "Sweet Charity", not being successful at the Box Office. Also the role of the feisty, foul mouthed Gertrude Lawrence was a big departure from the usual type of role that had endeared Julie Andrews to movie goers. While different from her roles in "The Sound of Music", and "Thoroughly Modern Millie", "Star!", needs to be judged on its own individual merits and is a marvellous showcase for the multi talents of Julie Andrews.Undertaking a film biography of such a complex and multifaceted lady as Gertrude Lawrence who was one of the shining lights of the stage in the early years of the 20th Century would have been a daunting task for any producer to undertake. "Star!", in an almost 3 hour running time however succeeds beautifully in tracing Lawrence's very humble beginnings in Clapham, London where she spent more time ducking ripe fruit being thrown at her on stage than singing, right through to her toast of Broadway successes in "Private Lives", and "Lady in the Dark". The production is rich in stunning musical numbers where the full force of the unique talent of Julie Andrews is amply in evidence. "Limehouse Blues", the beautiful "Parisian Pierrot", "Piccadilly" and my personal favourite the stunning finale of "Jenny" really are in a class of their own as far as 1960's musicals go. Julie Andrews is superlative as Gertrude Lawrence and despite many people at the time feeling she was miscast and that the film overall misrepresented Lawrence, I believe she does admirably as the brassy cockney entertainer who from sheer force of personality reached the top of the entertainment world. A fatal mistake is to watch "Star!", expecting to see a slight variation on Mary Poppins or Maria Von Trapp. Here Julie Andrews creates a totally different type of character who is in turn funny, exasperating, tragic, self centred and reflective, all in the one package. Her progression through the film from frantic twenties flapper to a goddess of the depression era of the 30's, and then a mature self assured leading lady in the 40's is achieved with a sure eye for what is right for the characters progression by Andrews. Daniel Massey plays Lawrence's life long friend Noel Coward in a masterful performance that is among his best ever and in his interpretation of Coward he manages to be respectful while still showing the great wit and sardonic viewer of life that Coward was reported to be."Star!",has the feel of an old fashioned musical comedy about it and I find that one of the film's most appealing qualities. Entertainment and history are intermingled through the innovative use of newsreel footage of the time and reenactments of scenes from Lawrence's great successes on stage in "Private Lives". The film is rich with lavish production numbers with music penned by such celebrated artists as the Gershwins and Cole Porter. The "Jenny", musical number which comes at the conclusion of the film in particular is startling in it's construction and Julie Andrews displays an energy and fluidity here that is a revelation as far as dance sequences go. Nominated for seven Academy Awards "Star!", really came along at the wrong time and another musical extravaganza that year "Funny Girl", featuring an amazing film debut for Barbra Striesand totally eclipsed it both in financial success and awards. Visually the film is a real treat for the viewing eye as Julie Andrews wears an incredible wardrobe throughout the film which grows increasingly lavish over the 40 year running period of the film. Designed by Donald Brooks, Julie Andrews had the rare honour of having the largest single wardrobe created for an actress in the one film up to that time.I always feel that "Star!", in some respects gave us an early glimpse of the Julie Andrews that amazed the world in her great comeback film of 1981 "Victor/Victoria". As Gertrude Lawrence she is in turn extroverted, tender, regretful of many of her actions, and always the live wire. Rarely have I heard her in better voice than in "Star!", and her musical numbers in most respects are far more difficult ones than in her earlier musicals. Neglected and scorned at the time of its release just when the press seemed to turn against her, "Star!", certainly deserves a better press. Combined with Julie Andrews next effort the monumental "Darling Lili", which suffered the same fate at the Box Office in 1970, both are blamed for ending Andrews' career in movies. Both in fact are due for a reassessment and no film has displayed the unique abilities of Julie Andrews to better advantage than "Star!". Do yourself a favour and take a look at this unfairly maligned film some time, you wont regret it."
Caviar served as Hamburger...
Simon Davis | 04/15/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Fans of STAR! who were impressed with the laserdisc should not let go of it yet....The Laserdisc of STAR! was mastered from the original 65mm camera negative. (the History notes in the laserdisc say the original version wasn't lost, just untouched in a vault, however a Fox employee later admitted that same negative actually was lost sometime after the laserdisc was done) The picture and sound on the LD transfer were supervised by people who knew the film well. That is clearly not the case with the new DVD. The DVD looks like it's from a 35mm element that has been cropped at the sides to simulate the 2.20 aspect ratio of the laserdisc. Comparison with the Laserdisc will reveal the DVD is missing picture info on all four sides. The pale color in the DVD is nowhere near the saturated, accurate color of the LD, evidenced by the added brown hue in the documentary footage, which was never intended. Someone doing this transfer apparently decided to imitate the sepia tone of the B&W sequences in WIZARD OF OZ, ignoring the detail that the "documentary" within STAR! is a new film in the 1940 sequences that bookend the picture. Just one of the many details in which the Fox DVD team's ignorance of this film is obvious. The Intermission title, Entracte, and final Cast of Characters, are all inexplicably gone, along with the nice added visual and audio enhancements they had on the laserdisc. This is yet another bit of evidence that home video folks have no idea how to handle a roadshow film. Fox also cut the Intermission/Entracte sequence on the DVD of ANNE FRANK, but they left it on HELLO, DOLLY! So clearly they are just not paying attention to such things.The few chapters in the STAR! DVD (as opposed to the ample and well chosen ones on the LD) are randomly chosen with no logical connection to the plot, or to actual desired sequences... none of the supplements are chaptered at all. The exceptionally accurate captions from the laserdisc have been replaced here with lame subtitles that include several mistakes and (are you ready for this?) go completely blank at every song! Apparently Fox thinks no one, hearing impared or not, wants to know the lyrics! It's only a musical, right? and after all it's no MOULIN ROUGE, though they seem desperately intent on making it LOOK like it with the tacky menus and packaging.The laserdisc of STAR! had an extensive and well researched still section that was unfortunately set in rather ugly type on boring backgrounds. Several typographical errors and continuity gaps were also present, and these flaws have not been fixed. So yes, as others have observed, interesting as this material is, it is a chore to get through, and this could have been easily fixed, had someone at Fox cared to make the effort.The most glaringly obvious evidence of carelessness in the DVD production is the two new still galleries that were not on the laserdisc: one very inaccurately titled "Musical Numbers" and another containing B&W shots, Both look literally like someone just scooped up a handful of pictures and threw them in without looking. These sections are a total mess, with no order or logic whatsoever... so many redundant and unnessary shots, and some so unflattering that the studio will likely have to explain to the leading lady and the family of her co-star why they used shots that were obviously not authorized. It is amazing that such unprofessional production was actually approved for release.It's a shame when Fox and other studios don't value their catalog titles enough to bother consulting anyone who would know how they should be handled. The result would be something to be proud of and probably increase sales potential. Instead these films are tossed off cheaply, and if low sales result they will most likely blame the films rather than their ignorant handling of them. But that's corporate Hollywood for you."
Julie is amazing!!
Simon Davis | 07/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this fabulous film in its theatrical release in 1968. I remember being floored by the period detail, the opulent sets and costumes, and the fabulously recreated musical numbers. But nothing prepared me for the astonishing range of Julie Andrews' singing and acting. She has never looked or sounded better. This should have been her "Funny Girl," which was released about the same time, but for whatever reason, it never caught on with audiences. Gertrude Lawrence, whose life is supposedly represented here, merely serves as an excuse for Robert Wise et. al. to mount a love-fest for Julie. This is a timeless tribute to one of the great stars of musical comedy. Will she ever sing again? Is there a movie version of "Sweeney Todd" in the wings? She would be tremendous. Star is stunning!!"
This "Star" definitely shines!
Joe Comer | Robinson, IL United States | 02/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Julie Andrews received most of the blame for the critical and financial failure of this film. Critics were not kind to her because she sought to drop her so-called "wholesome" image with her performance of Gertrude Lawrence. Actually the problem, if there is one, is the script. With its integration of newsreel footage, both real and re-enacted, and the behind-the-scenes story of the star who was once the toast of the Broadway and London stages, the film takes on a rather disjointed look. But the technique is an original, innovative and generally successful one. The musical numbers are exceptional with "Berlington Bertie...", "Limehouse Blues" and the finale, "Jenny" among the highlights. Daniel Massey as Noel Coward nearly steals the show. But above all there is Julie! She is magnificent! Surely no one else could have taken on the enviable but difficult task of portraying Lawrence in a massive production like this one. Her work is on a par with MARY POPPINS, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, HAWAII, VICTOR/VICTORIA and DUET FOR ONE! The close-mindedness of the critics and audiences at the time of STAR!'s release does not diminish the fact that the acting, singing and dancing of Andrews is a monumental achievement and elevates the film to near greatness! If you can see this film in a letterboxed, surround sound edition or better still in a widescreen movie theatre it is even better. The truncated version that is the most widely seen runs around 120 minutes and should be avoided. Try and catch the 175 minute version. You will not be sorry!"