This film suffers from a couple of interminable musical numbers that were a waste of Garland's talent. That said, the movie's a masterpiece owing in no small way to the finest acting of Garland's career, high production values, and an iconic performance by James Mason. I couldn't take my eyes off him. Whether suavely prowling at the Coconut Grove or poignantly using affectatious deception to blow off Nile's token offer in the sanitorium, Mason invests his character with a complexity that's chillingly real, raw and physical. In an important early scene for instance, everything about his backstage lipstick-writing-on-wall sequence is uncannily stunning, from the thin line he walks between dashing grace, intoxicated giggles, and obnoxious belligerence to his heady grip of Esther's hand and the spin he gives the words. And he is not just convincing as a drunk. He is just as effective implying hidden depths of decency, compassion, and vulnerability to love, a love that comes too late. These two actors were robbed of their Academy Awards.