Star! is a 1968 American musical film biography.
William Fairchild's screenplay is based on the life of Gertrude Lawrence but adds many fictional details to the true facts.
Directed by Robert Wise from a script by William Fairchild, the Twentieth Century-Fox release stars Julie Andrews, Richard Crenna, Michael Craig, Daniel Massey, Robert Reed, Bruce Forsyth, and Beryl Reid. It was photographed in 65mm Todd-AO by Ernest Laszlo, with a music score by
Lennie Hayton and Jay Thompson.
Released at a time when movie musicals were losing popularity, the film was a critical and commercial failure. It was released on home video in 1993, in its complete roadshow edition.
Gertrude Lawrence rose from the depths of poverty in London to international stardom. This film details her career from the beginning until her marriage to Richard Aldrich. Julie Andrews made over 100 costume changes and was on-screen for 90% of the movie. She performed in 15 elaborate musical numbers.
Awards and nominations
- Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Daniel Massey)
- Best Art Direction and Set Decoration
- Best Cinematography
- Best Costume Design (Color)
- Best Original Song ("Star!")
- Best Score of a Musical Picture, Original or Adaptation
- Best Sound
- Best Supporting Actor (Daniel Massey, winner)
- Best Motion Picture Actress, Musical or Comedy (Julie Andrews, nominee)
- Best Original Song ("Star!," nominee)
- Most Promising Male Newcomer (Daniel Massey, nominee)
- Julie Andrews' wardrobe set a record at the time for the largest number of costume changes for an actress in one film.
- After the film flopped at the box office, Fox decided to substantially cut and re-market the film. They tested audience response to three titles: "Music For The Lady," "Star!," and "Those Were The Happy Days." The latter got the best response, but was altered to "Those Were The Happy Times." Robert Wise didn't believe revamping the film would work, declined to be involved in the re-cutting, and asked that the credit "A Robert Wise Film" be removed. William H. Reynolds, the film's original editor, was ordered to pare the film from 176 to 120 minutes by Richard Zanuck. When the film debuted on American television, the original title was restored, but the picture was still cut. At almost the same time, it debuted on TV in England, but in the full original version, missing only the overture and entr'acte.
- Apart from Richard Aldrich, a certain amount of dramatic license was taken with the men in Lawrence's life. In the movie, her first stage manager husband is called Jack Roper and is shown as not much older than she. In real life, his name was Frank Gordon-Howley and he was twenty years her senior. Her upper-class Guardsman boyfriend was not called Sir Tony Spencer, but Captain Philip Astley; he later married Madeleine Carroll. And the Wall Street banker she met while on Broadway was named Bert Taylor, not Ben Mitchell as depicted here.
- This film grew out of a massive attempt by Twentieth Century-Fox to duplicate its earlier success with The Sound of Music by producing three expensive, large-scale musicals over a period of three years, including Doctor Dolittle and Hello, Dolly!. Unfortunately, tastes in popular entertainment were beginning to change and all three films' box-office performance reflected this. All were released amidst massive pre-release publicity and all lost equally massive amounts of money for the studio. The result was that several top studio executives lost their jobs, and the studio itself went into such dire financial straits that it released only one picture -The Mephisto Waltz - for the entire calendar year of 1970 It would never recoup its losses until a highly successful theatrical reissue of The Sound of Music in early 1973.
- Both Peter Cook and Robert Stephens were in the running for the role of Noel Coward, portrayed by Daniel Massey, who in real life was Coward's godson.
- According Daniel Massey on the commentary track of the DVD, Massey, after viewing the film, was unhappy with the sound of his voice. He insisted upon dubbing his own dialog, and director Robert Wise granted his request. Massey proceeded to the looping room and re-recorded all of his dialog.