For Robert Wise's centennial, we're looking back on a random selection of his films beyond the familiar mega-hits (The Sound of Music & West Side Story) which we are far more prone to talk about. Here's Manuel discussing Star! (1968).
With its succinctly confident title (exclamation mark and all) Star! is that other Julie Andrews/Robert Wise musical. The film is a biopic of Gertrude Lawrence, a celebrated English performer who rose up from music halls to become a famed fixture on the West End and Broadway (see why Andrews seemed like such a great fit?). At 176 minutes, the film tests the patience of even those of us enamored with Andrews, musicals, and showbiz dramas.
Much like the very form that made Gertie a star, the film feels like a revue musical more so than a cohesive narrative of or about Gertie’s life. Parents, children, husbands, friends and lovers, come in and out of focus but rarely stay for long enough to create any sort of tension, especially as the movie is intent on barreling through Gertie’s life to give us (count ‘em!) fifteen full musical numbers.