A Star Is Born (1954 film)

1954 film by George Cukor

A Star Is Born is a 1954 musical film about a movie star who helps a young singer/actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.

Directed by George Cukor. Written by Moss Hart, based on the 1937 film of the same name.
The applause of the world -- and then this! (taglines)

Esther Blodgett / Vicki Lester

  • [seeing Norman drunk] Mr. Maine is feeling no pain!
  • I can remember my first job singing with the band. And then one night stands clear across country by bus. Putting on nail polish in the ladies rooms of gas stations, waiting on tables. Wow! That was a low point. I'll never forget it. And I'll never never do that again, no matter what. But I had to sing. I somehow feel most alive when I'm singing.
  • He gave me a look at myself I've never had before. He saw something in me nobody else ever did. He made me see it too. He made me believe it.

Norman Maine

  • [to Esther] You've got that little something extra that Ellen Terry talked about. Ellen Terry, a great actress long before you were born. She said that that was what star quality was - that little something extra. Well, you've got it.
  • Listen to me, Esther, a career is a curious thing. Talent isn't always enough. You need a sense of timing - an eye for seeing the turning point or recognizing the big chance when it comes along and grabbing it. A career can rest on a trifle. Like - like us sitting here tonight. Or it can turn on somebody saying to you, 'You're better than that. You're better than you know.' Don't settle for the little dream. Go on to the big one...Scared? Scared to take the plunge? Don't ever forget how good you are. And hang on to that. Because I'm right. [pause] I just want to take another look at you.
  • You know, Oliver, I sometimes think I was born with a genius - an absolute genius - for doing the wrong thing.
  • I shall have to introduce myself all over again to a lot of people. They won't know me when I'm not drinking.

Oliver Niles

  • There's nothing left anymore. It happened long before last night...20 years of steady and quiet drinking do something to a man.

Matt Libby

  • If you'll be kind enough to glance between my shoulder blades, Mr. and Mrs. Gubbins, you'll find there a knife buried to the hilt. On its handle are your initials.

Danny Mcguire

  • [to Vicki] Sympathy? That's not what you're getting from me, baby. You don't deserve it. You're a great monument to Norman Maine, you are. He was a drunk, and he wasted his life, but he loved you. And he took enormous pride in the one thing in his life that wasn't a waste, you. His love for you and your success. That was the one thing in his life that wasn't a waste. And he knew it. Maybe he was wrong to do what he did, I don't know. But he didn't want to destroy that, destroy the only thing he took pride in. And now you're doing the one thing he was terrified of, you're wiping it out! You're tossing aside the one thing he had left. You're tossing it right back into the ocean after him. You're the only thing that remains of him now. And if you just kick it away, it's like he never existed, like there never was a Norman Maine at all.


Esther Blodgett: You know as much about me as I do myself. But...you see how long it's taken me to get this far. Now, all I need is just a little luck.
Norman Maine: What kind of luck?
Esther Blodgett: Oh, the kind of luck that every girl singer with a band dreams of--one night a big talent scout from a big record company might come in and he'll let me make a record.
Norman Maine: Yes, and then?
Esther Blodgett: Well, the record will become number one on the Hit Parade, it'll be played on the jukeboxes all over the country...and I'll be made. [laughs] End of dream.
Norman Maine: There's only one thing wrong with that.
Esther Blodgett: I know--it won't happen!
Norman Maine: No, it might happen pretty easily--but the dream isn't big enough.

Esther Blodgett: [in a nightclub] Hello, Mr. Maine. You turn up in the strangest places.
Norman Maine: Don't I now?
Esther Blodgett: And you're cold sober.
Norman Maine: Well, you'd better make the most of it!

Norman Maine: Do you ever go fishing?
[Esther looks confused]
Norman Maine: Well, do you like prizefi--have you ever watched a great fighter?
Esther Blodgett: I-I uh--
Norman Maine: I'm trying to tell you how you sing.
Esther Blodgett: Do you mean like a prizefighter or a fish?
Norman Maine: Look...em--
[leads her into a kitchen]
Norman Maine: There are certain pleasures that you get--
[realizes that the sound of clanging dishes is intolerable and they depart for the outside]
Norman Maine: There are certain pleasures you get, little-little jabs of pleasure when a swordfish take a hook, or-or when you see a great fighter get in right for the kill, see?
[Esther still looks confused]
Norman Maine: You don't understand a word I'm saying, do you?
Esther Blodgett: No, not yet. Why don't you try bullfights?

Vicki Lester: Norman, don't you know how I feel about you?
Norman Maine: Yes, yes I do.
Vicki Lester: Well, then dear, don't you know that nothing about you could make any difference?
Norman Maine: It's too late.
Vicki Lester: No, it isn't.
Norman Maine: It is, I tell you...Now listen to me. I destroy everything I touch. I always have. Forget me. I'm a bad loss.
Vicki Lester: I don't believe that.
Norman Maine: You've come too late.

Vicki Lester: [accepting an Academy Award] When something like this happens to you and I'm not going to lie to you and tell you I didn't keep hoping it would happen. All the speeches that you've made up in your bedroom or in the bathtub go out of your mind completely and you find that, out of all the words in the world, just two stick in your mind - thank you. And all I can do is say them to you from my heart and...
Norman Maine: [clapping loudly] Congratulations, my dear. I made it just in time, didn't I? May I borrow the end of your speech to make a speech of my own? My method for gaining your attention may seem a little uncon-unconventional, but, uh, hard times call for harsh measures. My - I had my speech all prepared, but I - it's gone right out of my head. Let me see - why, it's silly to be so formal, isn't it? I-I know most of you sitting out there by your first names, don't I? I made a lot o' money for you gentlemen in my time through the years, didn't I? Well, I need a job now. Yeah, that's it. That-that-that-that's the speech. That's the - I need a job. That's what I wanted to say. I - I need a job. It's as simple as that. I - I need a job, that's all. My talents, I may say, are not confined to dramatic parts. I can play comedy, too.

Matt Libby: Friends, my eye! Listen. I got you out of your jams because it was my job, not because I was your friend. I don't like you. I never did like you. And nothing made me happier than to see all those cute little pranks of yours catch up with you and land you on your celebrated face.
Norman Maine: Pretty work, Libby. Always wait till they're down, then kick them.

Vicki Lester: He's in a sanitarium. He really wants to stop drinking, Oliver. He's trying very hard. I know he is. What is it? What is it that makes him want to destroy himself? You've known him longer than anyone else. Tell me what it is. Please. I don't care but just tell me.
Oliver Niles: Don't you think I've tried through the years to know why, to help him? I don't know, Esther. I don't know what the answer is.
Vicki Lester: Well, I've got to find the answer. You don't know what it's like to watch somebody you love just crumble away bit by bit and day by day in front of your eyes and stand there helpless. Love isn't enough. I thought it was. I thought I was the answer for Norman. But love isn't enough for him. And I'm afraid of what's beginning to happen within me... because... sometimes I hate him. I hate his promises to stop and then the watching and waiting to see it begin again. I hate to go home to him at night and listen to his lies. My heart goes out to him because he tries - he does try. But I hate him for failing. I hate me, too. I hate me cause I've failed, too. I have. I don't know what's going to happen to us, Oliver. No matter how much you love somebody... how do you live out the days?

Oliver Niles: You know Libby you missed a lot not knowing Norman Maine.
Matt Libby: Not knowing him? I spent my life knowing him. I knew what he was going to do before he did it. I knew him backwards.
Oliver Niles: You didn't know him at all. He was quite a guy.


  • The applause of the world -- and then this!
  • Destiny came at her with a leer!


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