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  • Star! is publicized as the flop that ended Julie Andrews' career. None of the blame should be laid at Julie's feet however. Her performance, especially in the musical numbers, is unparalleled. Julie WAS the greatest musical star of her day: if you don't believe me, imagine Barbra (whom I adore also) being tossed around by chorus boys in the "Jenny" finale. Also, kudos must go to Daniel Massey as Noel Coward: he could have really "camped" up the role but, thankfully, he played it with restraint. The problem with the movie is that it is constructed with the great musical numbers connected by a very flawed & minimal plot. Furthermore, the musical numbers don't advance the plot at all (only in a few spots do they even parallel Gertrude Lawrence's life-situations of the moment). So, what we're left with is a revue...a pastiche of musical numbers..a Ziegfield Follies of 1968!! So, the character of Gertrude Lawrence isn't fleshed out enough for audience sympathy to develop. Finally, the choice of imitating b&w newsreel footage just doesn't work and further distances the audience from the movie. Check it out though---the musical numbers are super-spectacular and Julie Andrews gives a Star!-performance
  • marcosaguado6 February 2005
    If somebody wins a fortune at a Casino, will you finance the winner to have another go? Absurd, right? That's what I'm afraid happened here. Robert Wise and Julie Andrews were coming out of the most sensational success with "The Sound of Music". The kind of success that tends to be unrepeatable. What were they thinking then? The experts, I mean. The green light guys. Gertrude Lawrence was not Maria Von Trapp. But Julie Andrews was, is and always will be Julie Andrews. For an actor that must be a blessing even if most actors treat it like a curse. We can accept Julie in everything as long as you don't expect us to forget that she's Julie. She can poke fun at herself and show her boobs in "S.O.B" or pretend to be a man pretending to be a woman in "Victor Victoria" She can also play a quadriplegic in bed with Liam Neeson in "Duet for One" because the writing and the treatment of the character is, one way or another, tailor made. She managed to be Julie Andrews without betraying what the public, her public expects of her. A blessing or a curse? It doesn't matter, the actress herself can decide whether is one thing or the other. Julie Andrews has remained a name to be reckon with. Right up to Shrek. Star! gives her some fantastic moments, musical moments. Surrounded by great production values and wonderful costumes plus a delightful Daniel Massey as Noel Coward. But the shape of the film is a mess. We can't truly connect with her and we get lost in the masses and masses of information. From biopic to comedy, to drama to musical the film never finds the right tone. Disjointed, confused and confusing. I'm sure the film will find a new breath of life after we stop breathing. There is something in it that it's valuable and great but, at the moment, remains buried under the puzzling heaviness of its intentions.
  • dweck1 February 1999
    *THUD* Like that the romance between box office and Julie Andrews was over.

    Why?

    There are a variety of answers. Tastes had changed. Big-budget musicals were on their way out (and continued to fall out of favor as the decade proceeded--see "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "Camelot," and "Paint Your Wagon" for further evidence). And the public had mysteriously cooled on Julie Andrews as well, although the reason behind that eludes those of us who still carry the torch for her.

    Caught in the downward spiral, unfortunately, was "STAR!" the musical that was supposed to recapture the magic of "The Sound of Music" by allowing Andrews, Wise, and Chaplin the opportunity of working again. According to critics and box-office receipts, this reunion failed miserably.

    But there has been a revisionist feel to "STAR!" over the past few years, as evidenced by the VHS and laser releases, and that's a good thing. This treasure certainly didn't deserved to remain buried forever.

    Andrews gives a tour de force performance, tackling a barrel full of unforgettable songs from some of the world's greatest composers/lyricists. She's also given amply opportunity to show off her acting chops, as her Gertie is alternately dazzled and dazzling, enraged, funny, drunk, enamoured, witty, urbane, base, coy, and even sad, lonely, and depressed.

    Last, Julie/Gertie is dolled up in some of the most exquisite costumes to ever grace a screen--the Donald Brooks outfits and Cartier jewels will knock your eye out.

    That Andrews voice... that Andrews face... that Andrews talent... that Andrews dancing... All up on the screen with nobody to appreciate it in 1968. Luckily, it's now all within grasp.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    So many learned visitors of this site have given their almost professional opinion on this movie, which is way over my head (I didn't know anything about the historical person of Gertrude Lawrence for instance), so I just want to give my heart's feelings.

    Well, I liked the movie a lot! Maybe it's a bit long, and maybe there is little to no plot, but as a Julie Andrews vehicle and as a sumptuous musical pastiche it's absolutely great, full of famous and well-loved songs as well as (to me) pleasant musical surprises. Miss Andrews is at her (musical) best, her voice is lovely and crystal clear and her diction may be a bit exaggerated but at least you can understand every syllable that she sings, even in the high-paced numbers and the ones where she has to run back and forth or gets thrown around (as in the Jenny-number) and you can actually hear her pant and puff. I don't agree with people that criticized her dancing, for in my humble opinion she does it fairly well.

    Miss Andrews is in this movie at her best when she can play the highbrowed, ad-libbing queen of society, sparring at high pace with Noel Coward; in other words: in those scenes where she can go over the top and act a woman who's constantly acting. Unfortunately she is less convincing when she is supposed to let her guard down and show us something of the real person underneath. For some reason (as I thought so too in many of her other movies) Julie Andrews lacks the charisma and personality to move me when the camera closes in on her, it all looks a bit awkward and uncomfortable, as if she doesn't know how to handle (the acting of) a real life person in stead of a make-believe or larger-than-life one.

    However, I have to say to her behalf that she wasn't helped here by the script, for there was hardly any possibility for insights and character-development. And it's hard to sympathize with someone whose major hardships contain of spending too much money, estranging her little daughter and not knowing how to choose from a bundle of lovers. The comparison with that other contemporary musical movie Funny Girl of course is obvious, and as an actress Barbra Streisand wins on every account. That doesn't mean that Julie Andrews is less of a stage personality, she's (in my opinion) just better at place in the glamorous settings of a Broadway stage than when she's stripped of costumes, wigs and glamour and has to pull it of all by herself in an intimate camera close-up. Then again I have to say that the short scene of her and Daniel Massey from Private Lives was very well-acted and fascinating and proved that she maybe could have outdone herself when given the chance. But then again: here also she had to act that she was acting.

    All in all, I enjoyed the movie very much. Although it's long, it never got tedious, the supporting actors all did fine jobs (for as much as they got any scenes, since it's mostly Julie Andrews who dominates the screen time), with a special mention of Daniel Massey as Noel Coward. What a pity by the way that his character stayed on the surface even more than that of Gertrude Lawrence, I really would have liked to see him work with a script that would have plunged into the heart and soul of Mr. Coward! I rank this movie 8 out of 10.
  • After working with Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music", Robert Wise and Saul Chaplin were eager to find a vehicle to showcase her prodigious talents. In choosing the story of Gertrude Lawrence, it seemed they had found an ideal subject. But some serious mistakes were made along the way, which I think are the main reasons audiences rejected this extravagant production. Most important was the casting. There is very little chemistry between Andrews and her leading men, which makes it hard to empathize with the character's romantic entanglements and problems. Another problem was in one of the plot threads: Lawrence was depicted as being somewhat irresponsible with her personal life, especially her finances. If there's one quality Julie Andrews has always projected on screen, it is a down-to-earth, feet-on-the-ground sensibleness which is at odds with this aspect of the character as written. The musical numbers are the biggest reason for seeing this film, but they are staged to give little sense of the context in which they originally were presented (a common problem with show-biz biographies), so they come off looking more like production numbers from a late 60s TV special. Another quibble is that despite the fact that there were songs from shows by Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Kurt Weill, the script implies that all the music was by Noel Coward, even to the extent of having Coward at the piano at the opening night party for Gershwin's "Oh, Kay". Despite these problems, I find the film fascinating because of the lavishness of the production, which (unlike many show-biz bios) depicts a very believable historical setting, and because Wise and company were obviously trying to recreate an all but extinct musical genre: the star vehicle specifically tailored to the talents af a particular performer. For maximum appreciation of "Star!", I recommend the laser disc edition with commentary by Robert Wise, Saul Chaplin, and many members of the cast.
  • It's de rigeur to dish this film; yes, it's interminable, and it's inevitable that Andrews outlives her welcome. (Not sure I can think of any star who WOULDN'T become somewhat wearisome in a biopic of this length). The pace is incredibly leisurely; the decision to work towards a wedding means that there is simply too much material. Unfortunately, there is no motor in the plot, no 'desire' that runs throughout, no theme; Andrews can't find a line for character development. Instead, there are endless changes of image, and endless set-piece re-creations of theatre history. Whatever else, you can't say that you're short-changed, but the experience is a little like having a whole box of chocolates force-fed to you at a sitting.

    But Andrews works her tail off; she sings, she comedies, she thesps. She does her all-time best dancing. She generally outshines the frocks and the sets. It's probably deliberate that Gerty is chosen as the subject: it's an ADVANTAGE that most of the audience has never seen the real thing. Andrews is not trapped into a Streepish impersonation - she plays the script as if it's fiction.

    Daniel Massey's Noel Coward is trapped by audience expectation; personally, I think it's very good, provided you accept that 'Noel Coward' is a fictional character based on a real person. He and Andrews have an excellent rapport, although I suspect the real Noel and Gertie were a bit more feral as performers. (Coward liked his godson's impersonation: but "A shade too many 'dear boys', dear boy.") In other roles, Beryl Reid and Bruce Forsyth are worth the price of admission (it's the English musical numbers that work best). The "beards" are dull: dull performers with a script that gives them absolutely nothing. (How much Sound of Music depended on the implicit threat of Christopher Plummer! )

    In other news, Lennie Hayton's musical direction of this film is exemplary. The arrangements are simply splendid; this must just about be the last gasp of Hollywood's ability to pastiche all the styles of vaudeville and Broadway.

    Bernie Leven's production design is so pervasive that it warrants savouring. You could argue that this is a movie that has been hi-jacked by its tradesmen: Wise hires all these great talents, and then "gives them their head".

    I think "Star!" has all the joys of a triumphant folly. It's utterly predictable, but never dull (cf. Jumbo!) You have to be in the mood for it, and probably its pleasures are best savoured over several days, interspersed with Godard and Ken Loach.
  • drednm26 October 2013
    Forty-five years have passed since this film debuted! A notorious flop in its day, the film looks better all the time. An old-fashioned, full-throttle musical starring diva Julie Andrews as diva Gertrude Lawrence in a series of musical numbers with dramatic scenes interspersed. As biography, it's bosh, but as entertainment it's aces.

    Andrews is superb as Lawrence, capturing the blazing talent and her inability to deal with reality and men. The film nicely captures the razzle dazzle of Broadway in the 20s and 30s when there were such things as stars on stage. The musical numbers of terrific. The costumes are eye popping. Only the story lags.

    I suspect that those who say Andrews is "stiff" in this film haven't seen it. Andrews is a whirlwind of singing, dancing, and acting as she covers Lawrence's life from early adulthood til her marriage to Richard Aldrich in 1940 and her triumph in LADY IN THE DARK.

    Co-stars include the marvelous Daniel Massey as Noel Coward, Richard Crenna as Aldrich, Michael Craig, Robert Reed, Anthony Eisley, Jenny Agutter, Beryl Reid, Bruce Forsythe, and Alan Oppenheimer as Charlot.

    Look quick for Conrad Bain, Tony Lo Bianco, J. Pat O'Malley, Anna Lee, Ballard Berkeley, Bernard Fox, and Don Crichton (CAROL BURNETT SHOW dancer)in the "Limehouse Blues" number.

    STAR! ranks as one of Julie Andrews' very best performances. And that's saying a lot.
  • Yes, the story is somewhat thin. But Julie's performance, the music, the backstage scenes, the glamorous locales, the automobiles, the stage -- fill in where plot is lacking. This is, after all, a docu-musical that is, from what I know, a more literal rendering of Gertrude Lawrence's razzle-dazzle lifestyle, than a falsification of what actually happened. Robert Wise has said, to paraphrase him, that this is the one film he wished he could have done something else with. I personally would have included more scenes of Gertie being interviewed as she watched her life on the black & white tinny newsreels, and thus it may have bracketed her full color TODD-AO widescreen recollections. It might have drawn us more into her point-of-view. Still, the stage numbers, locales, party scenes (drunken one or two may have been) are fun to watch and experience. Script aside, the film is very well crafted, indeed.
  • emisue0228 March 2003
    I tell all my friends I own one of the biggest flops in movie history but it is also one of my favorite movies of all time, and they look at me like I'm nuts. Well, the people of the late 60s who didn't see this movie and therefore made it flop are the ones who are nuts. Star! is an absolutely wonderful movie. It's so big and bright and loud and irreverant and stimulating that I can't help but watch it over and over again. I don't care if I'm not getting an accurate picture of Gertrude Lawrence-I'm getting my favorite actress doing what she does like no one else can (singing, dancing, and giving a wondeful performance). The costumes are awesome, the musical numbers are supurb (especially "Saga of Jenny"-where else do you see Julie doing gymnastics?), and Julie is never more in her element. The frivolity of this movie will stick with you for days, long after the songs finally get out of your head. Congrats to Julie for doing so well in this, and I'm sorry it's taken over thirty years for people to recognize a cinematic gem when they see one.
  • Too bad this film was overlooked by so many, when it was originally released in 1968. Hollywood was fawning all over Katharine Hepburn's Bryn Mawr Eleanor of Aquitaine and Barbra Streisand's dreary and unfunny Fanny Brice. Best performance by fingernails! The best performance of the year was Julie Andrews' Gertrude Lawrence. If Gertrude Lawrence's life story, as depicted in "Star!" leaves something to be desired, the film still has enough wonderful moments to please anyone. I'm one of those people who believes that Julie Andrews reading the phone book, would be a evening's entertainment. That she is singing, dancing, acting and looking radiant, for almost three hours, is a bonus. "Star!", has always been THE Julie Andrews movie. She is almost never off the screen, and she uses her glorious voice in number after number. What numbers, too! Written by some of the greatest songwriters, "Star!" is a perfect showcase for the most beautiful voice that ever was. See a widescreen home-video version, which does partial justice to Michael Kidd's wonderful musical sequences, in this Todd-AO production, made for the big screens of yesterday. Try and catch the widescreen video tape or laser disc editions. (Unfortunately, the current DVD is the wrong color!!!). "Star!" is an underrated, beautifully crafted film, starring the screen's greatest musical talent. See it!
  • Given that STAR! was cruelly dismissed by critics and public in 1968, I was surprised to find that despite its length, it does entertain with a fine performance by JULIE ANDREWS as the famous stage performer (who did occasional films) and by RICHARD CRENNA and DANIEL MASSEY in good supporting roles.

    Andrews makes the most of every musical number--and there are plenty of them--demonstrating her enormous talent along with a flair for a more sophisticated style of acting miles apart from her "Mary Poppins" or "Sound of Music" image. And the staging of these musical portions makes excellent use of the WideScreen photography, emphasizing the lavish budget expended on costumes and sets.

    The central reason for the film's lukewarm reception at the box office is surely the fact that no attempt is made to make Miss Lawrence a truly likable person. She is shown, flaws and all, throughout--quarreling with those around her as she puts herself, first and foremost, above all other considerations. It seems that only Richard Crenna (as the man she eventually marries) is able to stand up to her stubborn nature with a will of his own.

    Coming on the heels of Julie's outstanding success in previous musicals, it's easy to see why audiences found it difficult to accept her as Gertude Lawrence--when actually, she gives a very strong performance. The script has to share some of the blame. It's a lumbering thing as it attempts to frame the story with newsreel accounts of Lawrence's life before ending the tidbits of information by delving into the main structure of the story.

    For fans of Julie who enjoy hearing her belt out song after song in various stages of Miss Lawrence's career, the film does homage to Julie Andrews herself more than to the famous stage thespian.
  • This film shares with most biographical pictures the problematic necessity of covering large portions of its subject's life very quickly, and hence an inherent sense of 'cantering through the highlights' without the luxury of developing in detail any given relationship or scene, whereas a similar story created as pure fiction would be more likely to cover a few days, months or at most years in a single dramatic arc. In the case of a musical biography, you have in addition the problem that sank the Judy Garland version of "A Star is Born" -- with big production numbers added into the running time, you either end up with an unwieldy length of film, or the temptation to cut down on character and plot in preserving the showpiece display. The traditional stage or screen musical can use its sung-through big act finales to advance the action; the performer's biography -- unless life conveniently mirrors repertoire -- doesn't enjoy that option. I saw the uncut version (well over three hours), but I wasn't surprised to learn that the ambitiously-titled "Star!", like "A Star is Born", suffered a drastically shortened re-release. I can't imagine, however, that it can have been an improvement. Even at its uncut length, the film already comes across as a cursory skate over events...

    The framing device used is that of Miss Lawrence previewing a sepia-toned retrospective of her own career, with increasingly frequent widescreen colour interruptions supposed to represent reality versus publicity gloss. It isn't entirely satisfactory, but then few framing devices are.

    A succession of choreographed songs in what amounts to a Greatest Hits parade is the principal reason for sitting through -- and doubtless for making -- the film, and Julie Andrews belts out the numbers to good effect. She does, oddly, funk the high note towards the end of "Some Day I'll Find You", an omission all too obvious in such an iconic and familiar number; leaving one to speculate that perhaps it was the pianissimo delivery she couldn't manage {Edit: apparently Gertrude Lawrence couldn't manage the original - presumably this was done in aid of authenticity}. Daniel Massey gets all the best lines as composer and wit Noel Coward, and makes the most of them, rather stealing the show. (He is also aided in this by the way that Coward is depicted as a rather more sympathetic character than the brittle, driven heroine!)

    In its format, the film reminded me somewhat of 1992's "Chaplin". but its evocation of place and period is nowhere near as convincing. The big production numbers are suitably impressive, but the sketchy acting opportunities and episodic plot -- not to mention the sheer length! -- make the experience more reminiscent of watching back-to-back editions of "That's Entertainment"; on balance I'd recommend the film, but I'd recommend it largely on that basis. It does have its moments, mainly towards the middle where it's more chronologically coherent, but it's mainly worth watching as spectacle.
  • 'The Sound of Music', starring Julie Andrews and directed by Robert Wise, became (for its time) the biggest box-office smash in movie history. 'Star!', a big-budget musical tailor-made for Andrews and directed by Wise for the same studio (20th Century-Fox), was expected to be a second bite of the cherry ... but it sank like a stone. This film flopped so thuddingly, one critic joked that Andrews's next movie would be a musical biography of Al Capone, titled 'Scar!'.

    'Star!' is the alleged life story of Gertrude Lawrence. In 1968, few movie-goers knew her name: Lawrence was primarily a stage performer, and her few films are seldom revived. In 'Star!', the only reference to Lawrence's screen career is a brief shot of Andrews wearing a copy of Lawrence's costume from 'Rembrandt'. Next offence: During the overture, there is a long long boring static shot of an orchestra against a backdrop emblazoned with some seemingly arbitrary phrases: 'Susan and God', 'Tonight at 8.30', 'Nymph Errant' and so forth. (I'm omitting one phrase from this description; I'll return to it later.) Movie-goers in 1968 were unlikely to recognise these phrases. In fact, these are the titles of Lawrence's stage vehicles (some from Broadway, some from the West End) ... and, after the overture, most of them are never mentioned anywhere in this film!

    We get that hardy cliché of movie bios: the subject is first seen in middle age, then the rest of the film is in flashback from the subject's youth or childhood. Most biopics do this as a technical necessity: James Cagney was in his forties when he played George M Cohan in 'Yankee Doodle Dandy', so we first see Cagney (in appropriate make-up) as the older Cohan; then, after the audience have accepted that Cagney is Cohan, we see the middle-aged Cagney portraying Cohan in his younger years. But this device wasn't necessary in 'Star!': Julie Andrews was young enough and fit enough to give a convincing portrayal of the young Lawrence. Yet the opening sequence gives us Andrews in dowager make-up (lamb dressed as mutton?), playing Lawrence at the oldest we'll ever see her in this movie, cueing the flashback to her youth. Also cueing an excellent title song: the only original song in this movie.

    Gertrude Lawrence was a notorious scene-stealer, reluctant to share the limelight. 'Star!' appears to have scripted as if seeking Lawrence's personal approval. In real life, Lawrence became a Broadway star in 'Charlot's Revue', co-starring with Jack Buchanan and Beatrice Lillie. In 'Star!', Buchanan is a mere dancing footnote, while Lillie (whom Gertrude Lawrence despised in her later years, after their early friendship) isn't even mentioned. When Andrews as Lawrence stars in 'Lady in the Dark', there's no mention of Danny Kaye ... who became a star in that production, and who famously had to defend himself against Lawrence's scene-stealing techniques. (Andrews gives a splendid and sexy rendition here -- surely much sexier than Lawrence's original -- of 'The Saga of Jenny', Lawrence's show-stopper from 'Lady in the Dark'.)

    I was delighted by Julie Andrews's performance (in male drag) of 'Burlington Bertie from Bow' ... but this song is not to my knowledge a Gertrude Lawrence speciality. The song was written for Vesta Tilley, referencing an earlier song performed by Ella Shields. Bunging it into a movie about Gertrude Lawrence would be like casting James Cagney as George M Cohan but then having him sing 'Mammy' and 'If You Knew Suzie'.

    Any biopic of Gertrude Lawrence must include Noël Coward. He's brilliantly played here by his godson, Daniel Massey. Massey's duet with Andrews on 'Has Anybody Seen Our Ship?' is delightful. On the one and only occasion when I met Noël Coward, his eyes lighted up with pleasure when I asked him about Gertrude Lawrence. It was clear that he deeply and sincerely loved her ... other factors in his personal life notwithstanding.

    This too-long movie falters when the music stops and Andrews as Gertie Lawrence descends into soap-opera argle-bargle. We get Gertie in a scene with the teenage daughter whom she has largely ignored in her pursuit of the limelight. The daughter is touchingly played by the young Jenny Agutter, unfortunately in an outfit that displays the birthmark on her sternum. After we've seen Lawrence shove aside everyone who got between her and the spotlight, we now hear her lamenting that all she ever really wanted was (pause, wistful smile, half-formed sob) to be truly LOVED!

    I mentioned that the overture curtain contained one phrase that modern audiences would recognise. That's 'The King and I', Gertrude Lawrence's last Broadway vehicle (now perceived as a vehicle for Yul Brynner). That phrase on the curtain is the ONLY time that 'The King and I' is mentioned in 'Star!'. We never see Lawrence performing in a scene from that musical. Were Fox unwilling to have Julie Andrews share the screen with Yul Brynner? Or unwilling to have another actor impersonate Brynner? Lawrence's stint in 'The King and I' is especially poignant, as she was dying of cancer during the Broadway run ... but you'd never know it from watching 'Star!'. The biopic ends arbitrarily, with Gertrude yammering during a motor trip: 'Lady in the Dark' behind her and 'The King and I!' still unmentioned.

    In the original production of 'The King and I', Gertrude Lawrence was billed over Yul Brynner. On her deathbed, Lawrence's dying request was that Brynner be given top billing. All the people who knew the selfish Lawrence were awed by this act of generosity. To which I say: Rubbish! It wasn't generosity at all, since giving top billing to Brynner would have meant taking it away from Lawrence's replacement (Constance Carpenter), not from Lawrence herself. The real Gertrude Lawrence was phony and superficial ... and so is this movie. I'll rate it 4 in 10, for the superb production values ... and for Julie Andrews's passion for this period in showbiz history.
  • Star must have been a very expensive movie to make. There are thousands of opulent costumes and sets. Almost every scene is bursting with extras in posh period dress.

    It is mostly a long string of stage performances. Julie Andrews is her usually amazing self with the surprise her skills include acrobatic dancer with snake-like grace.

    Gertrude Lawrence is a flip character, so the glue between the stage numbers about her private life is somewhat superficial. She tends to have several men on the go at once. This shocked audiences at the time the film was made, so they skirted the issue of sex rather prudishly.

    It is kind of like a 40-course dinner of exquisite French pastries. The movie is too long. It would have worked much better if pared down to standard length.

    Daniel Massey plays a young Noel Coward. He is great fun and quite believable.
  • "Star!" was one of the most notorious financial bombs of the 1960s, the main reason probably being that when it was released the public was getting tired of musicals. Certainly, the movie itself has some faults that may not have attracted some audiences. The movie is both too long and not long enough, for one thing. It's kind of tough to sit through a movie that's almost three hours long. And curiously, despite this long running time, the portrait of Gertrude Lawrence seems unfinished. We don't really get to see what is driving this woman. And her personal life is only lightly looked at, such as the fact that while she had a daughter, this daughter character has hardly any time devoted to her.

    But the movie also has its share of strengths. The performances are very good, the strongest being that of (no surprise) Julie Andrews. She puts so much enthusiasm into her role that it does help make up for her somewhat shallowly written character. And the musical numbers sprinkled throughout are indeed excellent, with some great choreography mixed in as well. Fans of movie musicals will probably embrace this movie the best, but the movie does have some genuine appeal to other people as well, if they are patient enough to sit through almost 180 minutes of film that isn't perfect.
  • It is not often that one can find a film where the leading lady looks as chic or as elegant as Julie Andrews does in Robert Wise's misunderstood masterpiece STAR!. Much of the credit must go to Academy Award nominated designer Donald Brooks. The wardrobe Miss Andrews wears is both large in number (over 125 different changes) and incredibly beautiful. This is the only film that comes to mind where the costumes seen to actually turn in a performance. I cannot imagine what this film would be like without Donald Brooks' extraordinary contributuion. He along with the millions of dollars worth of Cartier jewels make this film a memorable experience. For real eye candy STAR! cannot be beat!!!
  • bkoganbing25 February 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    The team that created The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews, director Robert Wise and producer Saul Chaplin were golden people in Hollywood after 1966. With the incredible success of The Sound of Music, 20th Century Fox just opened the checkbook up and gave them another mammoth budget for a mammoth musical. The result was Star.

    Through no fault of its own, Star flopped badly and Julie would only do one more musical film after this, Darling Lili, which also had a similar fate. Public tastes had changed, musicals were passé and they were darned expensive to make.

    Still the lengthy biography in song of one of the best stage stars in the English speaking world Gertrude Lawrence is an entertaining film. You'll get a good first hand knowledge about Lawrence to whom the world of play and make believe on stage came first and foremost. The film itself takes a lot of liberties.

    For one her lengthy involvement with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. is left out. In one of her few film appearances, she co-starred with Fairbanks in Mimi which is also one of the few films of her's available on VHS.

    For that matter her film career, spotty though it was is completely left out. Probably her best work is in Rembrandt opposite Charles Laughton which is also available. Not available sad to say is her final film, The Glass Menagerie where she played Amanda Wingfield.

    Best part of the film is the recreation of the musical numbers that Lawrence made famous by Andrews. Gertrude Lawrence had some of the best songwriters composing for her, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Kurt Weill and of course her lifelong friend, Noel Coward, played here beautifully by Daniel Massey. My favorite though is that old English Music Hall number, Burlington Bertie from Bow. That should be shown as an MTV video for seniors.

    Since the film only takes us to 1940 we miss the final triumph of her career as Anna Leonowens in The King and I and its sterling team of songwriters, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, II. Star ends with her a smash hit in Lady in the Dark and newly married to banker/theater producer Richard Aldrich played here by Richard Crenna.

    When Gertrude Lawrence died in 1952 the lights of Broadway and Drury Lane in London dimmed in tribute to one of the best performers to grace both sides of the Atlantic.

    Star is certainly a star vehicle for Julie Andrews. She gives it her best shot, she certainly can't be blamed for changing times and taste.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Star" should have been made fifteen years earlier,during the golden age of musicals,a time when Miss Lawrence's name might still have meant something to a wide audience,and not merely to lovers of revue and the ever-so-slightly camp theatre scene beloved of the British. She was the Judy Garland of her time ,and,coincidentally,much admired by the Friends of Dorothy whose loyalty she repaid by having a conspicuously close relationship with GBF Mr Noel Coward. Her capers in the papers make Paris Hilton seem like Mother Theresa,her life one long melodramatic crisis after another.Not,perhaps,an obvious role for Miss Julie Andrews then.However,she does her not inconsiderable best,and while in no way resembling Miss Lawrence either in appearance or performance,she gives something of a tour de force in "Star". There is no escaping the longeurs .All the time Miss Andrews is neither singing nor dancing nor "acting" as in the excerpt from "Private Lives" the movie grinds to a halt,hung up by the fact that Miss Lawrence ,when she was not "on" was not a very interesting person,nor a particularly sympathetic one. The movie ends up as a fine showcase for Miss Andrews'talents but ,in the end,I felt that she never made a serious attempt to get into the skin of Gertrude Lawrence who remained as enigmatic a character as T.E.Lawrence.
  • Julie Andrews may be nothing like Gertrude Lawrence in looks or voice, but who cares? This is a hugely enjoyable musical romp from the teens to the forties through such numbers as 'Saga of Jenny', 'The Physician', 'Burlington Bertie', and 'Has Anybody Seen Our Ship?'. She is terrific in a part which required a fair range of acting - the scenes with her daughter are poignant, the ones with her numerous lovers are amusing (some good support here from Michael Craig and Robert Reed) - and the whole thing gels together well. See the long version, there's much to enjoy in it.
  • By 1968 Julie Andrews was one of the most-loved performers of stage and screen, the original Eliza Doolittle of Broadway's MY FAIR LADY, a Best Actress Oscar winner for MARY POPPINS, and the star of film version of THE SOUND OF MUSIC--a movie that was so profitable Hollywood wags dubbed it "The Sound of Money." 20th Century Fox wasted little time in developing a new property for their new star, and (possibly under the influence of FUNNY GIRL, the great stage success that was set to film at about the same time) reached back in time to tell the story of a theatrical legend: Gertrude Lawrence.

    It seemed like a winner. Gertrude Lawrence (1902-1952) was known as "The Toast of Two Continents" in an era when the term had an almost literal meaning, and the highs and lows of her extremely public private life were almost as dramatic as her career. Operating with an incredibly large budget and under the direction of Robert Wise, the bio-pic STAR! seemed to have everything: lavish sets, incredible costumes, a truly great collection of songs, an epic running time, and--of course--Julie Andrews. What more could you want? Well, an interesting movie would be nice.

    STAR! opened with tremendous fanfare in 1968 and proved an instant fiasco. All the earnings of THE SOUND OF MUSIC were wiped out seemingly overnight, and with bankruptcy staring it in the face 20th Century Fox cut the film from three to two hours and rushed the film into general release as THOSE WERE THE HAPPY DAYS. As a result, the film holds the dubious distinction of being the only major Hollywood film to completely tank twice in major theatrical release.

    At the time, much of the film's failure was laid at the feet of Julie Andrews. Gertrude Lawrence, her remarkable career, and her high-flying lifestyle were still well-recalled in 1968, and Julie Andrews simply did not look, walk, talk, sing, or in any way, shape or form bear any resemblance to her. Seen today, however, this seems an unfair accusation; it is very evident that the project was never intended as a recreation of Lawrence, and Julie Andrews is actually quite good within the very tight limitations imposed upon her. The real problem is the script, which goes nowhere at a slow crawl. Indeed, the single most dramatic event in the entire story is Lawrence's financial bankruptcy! Yes, you can enjoy the sights and sounds of STAR! But the story is beyond boring: it makes you feel that you're sinking slowly to the bottom of a sea of Jello. The film is presently available to the homemarket on DVD. The DVD has been criticized for leaving out the few minutes of intermission material that accompanied the original release; frankly, I can't see this as anything more than a mercy, for the less time spent here the better. Bonuses are okay--which is to say that they are actually more interesting than the film itself. I'll be generous and give it two stars for production values and musical numbers. But unless you are a die-hard Julie Andrews fan, do yourself a favor and give STAR! a miss.

    Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
  • Cast your mind back to the late 1960's: the Beatles, space flight, Vietnam, flower children. Despite the prevailing culture - and counter-culture(s) - 20th Century-Fox executives decide the public will flock to see a remake of "The Jolson Story" featuring a female lead character who died over a decade earlier. So they reunite the star, director, and producer of a previous box-office smash and throw millions of dollars into it. It didn't work.

    Some reviewers now think this film is ripe for rehabilitation, a lost masterpiece from a golden age. I'm afraid it still doesn't work.

    True, there is great talent here, and spectacle. Unfortunately there is also an unsympathetic lead. Mercilessly ambitious from the outset, we are supposed to pity poor Gertie when success - of course - turns out to be a hollow sham.

    The other characters are stock figures: the True Friend (whom she can't marry because he's gay); the Man She Should Have Married; the Spurned Suitors; the Neglected Child and, finally; the Good Man Who Redeems Her.

    The musical numbers are spectacularly staged and well-performed, but (being taken from stage shows) they can't be integrated into the plot and drop into the film like a row of tombstones: "and then I appeared in...". Presumably Julie Andrews was supposed to re-create Gertrude Lawrence's charisma during these routines but she doesn't actually perform in Lawrence's style (especially her singing voice which was throaty and had a heavy vibrato) and the numbers seem to go on longer than necessary. Also, in an effort to develop a more adult image, Julie Andrews gets drunk and calls someone "a b**t***d".

    I've heard recordings of Lawrence singing with Noel Coward and I've seen her act with Charles Laughton in "Rembrandt". I found her singing voice strained and her acting histrionic. Maybe she was more exciting 'live' on stage. (Incidentally "Rembrandt" is seen only briefly and tantalisingly here - I would have given any number of 'witty' Noel Coward lines for a few minutes of Lawrence and Laughton.)

    An earlier reviewer mentioned the "original" device of using a newsreel as a framework. Is this intended as irony, or have they really not heard of "Citizen Kane"?
  • Finding a good vehicle for Julie Andrews is a problem. She has a terribly affected accent - especially when singing, and has to live down a cinematic image which began with Mary Poppins and was dragged to the bottom of the pit by having to make the best of a truly appalling role as Maria in the Sound of Music. In this film, however, she shows herself as being a performer of some ability. I have seen Gertrude Lawrence in films. In my opinion, Ms Andrews is a better performer - in films, at any rate - than Gertrude Lawrence ever was. Ms Andrews shows a pretty good range of acting muses: her portrayal when drunk at the party was particularly good.

    Having said that, the script and the storyline are not particularly good. Some of the facts of Gertrude Lawrence's life are not correct. For instance we have Bruce Forsyth playing Ms Lawrence's cockney father. As I recall, Gertrude Lawrence's father was a Dane named Clausen or Klaasen or something. Bruce Forsyth er ikke saa dansk, although he is, of course, an effective performer.

    Her husband Richard Stoddard Aldridge - as the dialogue calls attention to - talks like a contract. And this is annoying. Gertrude Lawrence herself in this film is pretty two-dimensional, although that is the fault of the scriptwriter rather than the actress, who does her best with what she has been given.

    Of the musical numbers, I liked the Jenny number the best.

    In summary, this film, for all its faults, is worth watching if only to see Julie Andrews make an almighty effort to shrug off the little miss goody goody two shoes image she got saddled with in The Sound of Music.
  • Stodgy bio-pic of a forgotten - but notable - British post war theatrical talent

    Julie Andrews is perhaps the biggest puzzle in Hollywood history: A star whose faults and virtues are so equal that they cancel each other out. Nice singing voice (without a great deal of range, it must be said) and perfect in the Sound of Music and Mary Poppins, but otherwise hard to cast. A lady that would have been better living in the past. At the risk of getting personal she has an air of straight-laced prudery that her acting just can't shake off.

    (Not even with a topless scene in SOB!)

    Most people in showbiz barely know who Gertrude Lawrence was, so pity the poor general public who said a giant "who?" on release. And left the cinema saying "this is so dated and old hat." Not that "old hat" stopped Sound of Music from striking gold.

    Feminist brownie points for a lady that led her own life, spoke her own mind and wasn't dominated by men (although idiotic with money), but I hated the cod newsreel approach. A cheap and obvious device that shouts "second rate story telling" and worse fails to match newsreel material with cod newsreel material without being obvious.

    Linguistically Andrews performance is all over the place from crass pseudo Cockney to cut glass - in one scene she uses both! Hard to knock a piece for ambition and vigour, but it doesn't pull it off as steady entertainment and it doesn't pull it off as insight. I also have to knock off another whole point for spending too long with the vapid, backslapping, theatrical types who are just wallpaper.

    The best parts are the singing and musical numbers - which are varied and quite inventive - going from musical hall to classic ballads. Shame Noel Coward (the ever present best friend) wasn't as good a piano player in real life!

    This has to be filed under "not all that great", but I guess it is better to watch this than The Sound of Music for the twentieth time!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The problem with most of the people who complain about this film is: THEIR UNWILLINGNESS TO JUDGE IT ON ITS OWN MERIT.

    They, either, hate it because she's not playing another Poppins/Maria von Trapp (which, for anyone daring to call themselves a Julie fan: is the ultimate blind disrespect for the extra dimension of ability her acting CLEARLY matures with in "Star!") or...they hate it precisely because they thought Poppins/Sound of Music was the sort of frothy fare she -in, mainly, the critics' minds- should've been confined to doing(!).

    I believe "Star!" is the last historical document of true Old Hollywood-style imagination, escapism, and glamour; made by people from an era with the most dedicated level of craftsmanship (something which, unfortunately, the modern world does not seem to have the humanity to value anymore). The BEST person in the cinematic universe of the mid-'60s that was left to exemplify those qualities was Julie Andrews.

    The biggest problem, though, the story has (besides; taking into account the number of decades they had to squeeze together all at once) is, that: (for whatever reason) Wise -or writer Fairchild?- exaggerates Gertie's nastiness to the extreme of making the main character almost the villain of her own story(!). Why(?)...they, surely(?), would've had input from Noel Coward and Richard Aldrich (Lawrence's second husband) themselves to provide enough of a "living portrait" into what Gertie was like(?). So, that element got me interested in wanting to learn about the ACTUAL personalities depicted in it and, finding out how much the same-or-different fact was from fiction. The character insight Wise couldn't hit upon here, I've concluded, was: recognizing Gertie's flakey and mercurial traits just seemed -in *real life* terms- to be more a result of...someone caught up in the petulant and rakish generation of (young) Britons then-living fast in the wake of all the hardships and death of WWI; rather than it being some kind of conspiratorial "meaness" which was constantly motivating her. The only times the dramatic segments of the story show any relatable spark are, ironically, when supporting characters challenge the materialistic contrivance of Gertie's portrayal (ex: the running thread of Massey's excellent pastiche of Coward providing a disciplined counter-balance; her trying to reconnect with her daughter; and the arrival of Richard Crenna in the last Act to finally stop her from self-destruction...THESE are the moments, unfortunately ever so few, anyone with any objectivity becomes mesmerized by the way Julie Andrews' acting chops grew a lot deeper fast).

    "STAR!" is like having a "music video" of a Julie Andrews Broadway performance from the prime of her career. She even is allowed to show a sassy, sex appeal to alluring effect (which, here, still resonates a naturally-captivating power...unlike the later films her forever miserable-seeming Svengali second husband could never gracefully incorporate into his recycled slapstick vanities)!
  • pianolover5113 January 2014
    As a cohesive film, I would have rated this film a 4. As a showcase for the phenomenal Julie Andrews, then at the peak of her powers, I would give it a 10. As a compromise, I give it an 8. I can add little to the other discussions of this film and, all these years later, my little comment will do little to alter anyone's opinion of it. I do wish, however, that it would be released on Bluray, with the intermission music restored. The picture, when compared with the recent Bluray release of Hello, Dolly! is rather faded and washed out. Julie's terrific music numbers and the fantastic sets and costumes deserve first-class treatment.
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