STAR!

US
1968
2hrs 55mins
Dir: Robert Wise
Starring: Julie Andrews and Daniel Massey

The life and career of British stage star Gertrude Lawrence

This American biographical musical was such a commercial disappointment in its initial run, that it was withdrawn from the market and then re-released. The studio then proceeded to substantially cut and re-market the film under the new title, Those Were the Happy Times, and the film’s running time was cut by 55 minutes from 175 to 120 minutes. Every attempt was made to make audiences think this 120 minute version was a similar film but the original title was tucked into a corner of all the ads so the audiences were not fooled. This desperate effort at ‘re-marketing’ only convinced people who hadn’t seen the original that it really was a bad film. By the time it debuted on American television the original title was restored, but the picture was still cut. At almost the same time it debuted on TV in England, but in the full original version, missing only the overture and entr’acte. Despite this, the film has tempered well with age and is quite enjoyable to watch today. Julie Andrews gives her usual sterling performance and one really wonders just how ‘big’ this picture could have been if there had not been such a fuss to begin with. For the railway enthusiast there are a number of flashback scenes in this production and one of these was filmed at London Marylebone station with borrowed Southern Railway suburban coaches to give the right period feel. In another, the railway lines on the approach to London Paddington are glimpsed, but no locomotives appear in either scene.

This quite charming period scene was shot at London Marylebone. The coaches were given fake ‘G&C’ branding, initials clearly borrowed from the GW&GC.
A rather desolate view of the station throat at London Paddington. Some GWR coaching is just visible among the haze on the far left.