A rebirth for 'A Star Is Born'
New York — ''A Star Is Born'' is being re-released. Not the 1976 Barbara Steisand, Kris Kristofferson vehicle - and not the original classic with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March - but the 1954 musicalized version starring Judy Garland and James Mason.
Recently recovered footage from director George Cukor's original edited negative of Miss Garland's production number ''Lose That Long Face'' will be included. That segment, approximately 5 minutes in length, was among the some 1, 200 reels seized on July 29 from a Burbank, Calif. storage facility by the Entertainment Industry Task Force division of the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office. The original Cukor footage had been thought destroyed or forever lost.
The recovery came on the heels of a series of benefit screenings of the picture presented during July by the Motion Picture Academy, the Academy Foundation, and other similar institutions, in cooperation with Warner Brothers. The purpose of the special showings was to raise money for the ''Decade of Preservation,'' a film restoration program currently under way by the Academy Foundation and other similar archival organizations.
The screenings, which took place in New York; Los Angeles; Washington; Oakland, Calif.; Chicago; and Dallas involved a reconstructed version of the original three-hour roadshow picture, featuring musical and dramatic sequences which had been unseen for 30 years.
According to Ron Haver, head of the film department of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, who had been responsible for locating original material for the academy-presented benefits, ''the newly discovered footage is the way George Cukor originally shot and edited the scene.''
Although Cukor's original film was three hours long, the picture played for just two months at that length. The film was then cut to accommodate exhibitor demand for a shorter version, and only that version has been seen for the past 30 years. During that time, the missing material - which was thought to have been destroyed - has become the object of interest by film scholars, students, and fans.
For the benefit screenings, the Motion Picture Academy reconstructed 27 minutes of cut footage using 20 minutes of films from Warner vaults and rephotographed stills of the missing scenes interspersed with stock footage from Cukor outtakes. All the material was then matched to the original intact stereophonic soundtrack.
Besides the ''Lose That Long Face'' number, two other Garland songs - ''Here's What I'm Here For'' and ''Shampoo Commercial,'' - plus fragments of dramatic scenes now have been restored.