All of the flashing lights may have been on her, but Judy Garland was quick to give credit to third husband Sid Luft at the premiere of A Star Is Born in 1954. Though she starred in the film, in Closer Weekly‘s exclusive sneak peek at Sid & Judy — an upcoming Showtime documentary — we see the actress heaped praise on the famed producer.
“By all accounts, the first three-hour cut of A Star Is Born was as powerful as Gone With the Wind,” Sid & Judy‘s director, Stephen Kijak exclusively told Closer Weekly, of the impact the original version could have had. However, Warner Bros. didn’t want a movie that long and theaters wanted to shorten it so they could show it five times a day instead of three. “So they cut it and cut it and cut it and cut it and, in the process, they killed it,” Stephen explained.
Sid’s voiceover, performed by Jon Hamm in the doc, notes how A Star Is Born — a remake of the 1937 film of the same name with Janet Gaynor — was one of the most expensive movies ever made at the time. It had taken an “astronomical” nearly $6 million to make it and they’d “have to make double that to even think about breaking even.” A Star Is Born has since been remade twice, one in 1976 with Barbra Streisand and one in 2018 with with Lady Gaga.
Everyone thought Judy would win an Oscar. She didn’t — Grace Kelly did for The Country Girl — but it did win her a Golden Globe. Part of the reason behind the movie was “really shut out,” not winning any of the six trophies it was nominated for that year, Stephen reveals, is because it “fell victim” to a conflict between Warner Bros. and the Academy.
“Whether it was Hollywood politics or the result of that film being sliced to pieces, at the time it bombed” he dished. “Its initial reviews were glowing, but then when it gets cut, it just tanks. You can imagine how devastating that can be. It was a devastating blow to both of them, but they just picked themselves up and went back on the road.”
Also in Closer Weekly‘s sneak peek, we see the formation of a unique friendship for the “Over the Rainbow” singer.
“Judy was at the center of social activity,” Sid’s narration points out, adding that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor [Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson] were in town. As was a power couple who introduced Judy — narrated by Jennifer Jason Leigh in the doc — to John F. Kennedy “who asked to be introduced to Dorothy [from The Wizard of Oz] in the flesh. It was the start of a fun-loving, comfortable friendship.” JFK was just a Massachusetts senator at the time. He wouldn’t go on to become president until 1961. He was tragically assassinated in 1963.
Sid & Judy airs on Showtime this Friday, October 18, at 8:05 p.m. ET.
Reporting by Ed Gross