The Warner Theater has been selected as the second stop on a six-city tour of the recently restored original three-hour version of the George Cukor production of "A Star Is Born," starring Judy Garland and James Mason.
Organized as a benefit for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences education foundation, the tour will begin at Radio City Music Hall Thursday, July 7, and then play the Warner Saturday, July 9, (one showing only at a time to be announced) before moving to Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco (actually represented by the splendidly restored Paramount in Oakland) and finally Los Angeles.
Initially released in 200 roadshow engagements in 1954, "A Star Is Born" was cut by 27 minutes during the second month of the run when Warner Bros. bowed to exhibitor complaints of lackluster business. The abbreviated running time didn't perk up box office sales, but it did create a tantalizing frustration for movie nuts, since the edited material included two complete musical numbers, "Lose That Long Face" and "Here's What I'm Here For," which remained on the soundtrack album, as well as snatches of dramatic interludes rumored to display both Garland and Mason at the top of their form.
The restoration--of the only existing print in three-strip Technicolor, CinemaScope and four-track stereophonic sound--was the result of a crusading research effort by film historian Ron Haver, curator at the Los Angeles County Museum and author of the monumental illustrated history "David Selznick's Hollywood."
Following a hunch, Haver received permission to search the Warner Bros. vaults last summer and found most of the missing half-hour in Jack Warner's private vault. The studio then agreed to loan the restored film to the Academy, which had encouraged and helped finance the research, for the fund-raising effort this summer.
The presentation at the Warner, which stopped operating as a movie palace in the early '70s, will be supervised by Boston Light & Magic, the company that set up the screen and projection facilities for "Napoleon" at the Eisenhower Theater. Tickets will be $15 to $30. The screening will be augmented by scene-setting documentary footage that includes highlights from the original Los Angeles premiere of "A Star Is Born." In addition, it is anticipated that several celebrities associated with the production will accompany the tour and introduce the showings.