1954, TSPDT Rank #245
I consider this remake of a '30s film that I have not seen to actually be two films in one: an intense, compelling drama; and a piss-poor, annoying musical. Let's stop and not go any further right now until I point out that anyone who is a fan of the needlessly extended and overblown Judy Garland musical numbers in this film (really the reason why it has a reputation, ironically) is not the target audience for this review. That being said, the songs are terrible. I hate them. They work against the other, better part of the film - which stars James Mason in a typically virtuoso performance as an alcoholic, washed-up Hollywood actor and husband of rising star (Garland) - by padding the length and ruining the tone of the film. In a film where the subject material is increasingly dark and gritty, why muddy the proceedings with useless, unrelated musical numbers which also disconnect the viewer from the actual story of the film? Bear in mind, I'm reviewing the newer, "restored" version of the film, in which the main point is to RESTORE these abrasive musical numbers! If you find a shorter version of the film with minimal musical numbers, I recommend that version because based on the rest of the film and Mason's performance, that would probably be a good film that I could recommend. But this version, that most people (like myself) will see anyway because it's the most "complete", I find impossible to give such a recommendation. A middle of the road rating is given to pay tribute to the portions of the film worth-watching.
P.S. Early in the film, there is a scene where Garland sings "The Man That Got Away" in an empty nightclub with her band. This performance is the only good song in the film.