I don't know from the original theatrical or LD presentation of "Star!" Besides having sat through "Those Were the Happy Times" and being totally appalled at the fact that more than half the score on my LP had evaporated with cuts, my only exposure to the film is through a widescreen tape of it as shown on AMC back in the early 1990s. So far as I recall, it's complete, sans overture.
The DVD, however, is fascinating to me. The overture is tremendous. I have to wonder if that was Lionel Newman in the orchestra pit. It does not resemble Lennie Hayton, but I could be wrong. I was a bit let down that the title song was not in full-fledged stereo but was cast in that "newsreel of the day" sound.
I think the musical numbers are pretty sensational (although I'm apparently one of few who doesn't care for the "Jenny" staging). Everything looks very good to me on my Sony 17-inch TV!!!!! I'm totally NOT disappointed with this DVD, and imagine my surprise that the commentary has not only Robert Wise, but Saul Chaplin and Julie Andrews (and who else?
I only listened to a bit of it).
I also watched "Call Me Madam" and found it totally irresistible, charming and alarmingly energetic and entertaining. The musical numbers positively sparkle. So much so that the non-musical scenes tend to seem unrehearsed by comparison. The book's not so creaky that it doesn't have laugh potential, but some of those laughs are not set up well at all.
The scene in which Merman sings "The Hostess With the Mostess" is brilliantly set up. There she is on the top step of a marble staircase, with the reporters surrounding her in a "V", all of them on different steps, so we see Merman in full figure at all times. The "bad thing" about this staging is the background window with the Capitol building in the distance and a very pink cherry blossom tree in full bloom just outside in full sunshine. It upstages Merman throughout the song and makes the scene too busy. Also, when this scene starts, Merman strikes a few classic poses on the stairs for the photogs...they should have borrowed from "Easter Parade", as well as doing some close-ups, having Merman pose one pose too many, as Nadine Hale did on an Easter Sunday promenade...one pose more than there were photographers snapping shots, with an appropriate, "Oh, poo!" reaction.
It seemed to me that the non-musical passages were handled almost as though they were bothersome links between sensationally staged numbers.
It's not a short movie musical, and perhaps they wanted to rush the story more than give more time to setups for the jokes.
I think if they'd had a bit more respect for the total package -- and possibly one less reprise of "Something to Dance About" -- I think the movie would have been an all-time classic in the genre. (Don't get me wrong...I think the main song, plus both reprises of "Something to Dance About" are wonderful, but if they needed to make room for something else.....) As it is, though, it's as good a musical recording of the score as there'll ever be, IMO, and NOBODY will ever be better in the part than Merman.