Brutally cut after its first release and further disfigured by the insertion of the long, tasteless production number “Born in a Trunk,” George Cukor's 1954 film somehow survives—and even touches greatness at times. Judy Garland gives everything she has as the young star on the way up; her performance is an emotional autobiography. And James Mason, as the aging star on the way out, balances her vulnerability with a tense distance, transcending the pathos his part was written for. This was Cukor's first complete film in color and his first in 'Scope: both elements are used with a bold assurance and perfect expressiveness.
By Dave Kehr