Monday, October 25, 2010

Movie Review: A Judy Garland Marathon

A few weeks back I watched A Star Is Born after reading the sad story behind the renowned film. After it's release in 1954, it was enjoying big success and huge crowds at the box office. The head honchos at the studio decided to cut 30 minutes from the film so that they could fit in more showtimes each evening. Unfortunately, they made the edits without consulting the director and did them in such a way that they could never be recovered. The version that I saw had the original audio, but with still photographs standing in for film. Talk about a brutal triumph of commerce over art!

The film itself was interesting- lots of big razzle dazzle dance numbers, and belted out ballads, of course. The story is Hollywood's best loved tale: the rags to riches story of a woman from the middle of nowhere with big talent. She is discovered and propelled to stardom by a past-his-prime leading man who is devolving into a drunk and town joke. But what made the movie so special was it's star. Judy Garland was so vulnerable in this film. She plays a cracked and broken woman who comes to learn that above all, The Show Must Go On.

To me, the most moving scene comes after she has just had a devastating conversation with a close friend about her pathetic drunk of a husband. She begs her friend to help find her husband an acting job and pleads that above all, his last shred of dignity be spared. She is a wreck, crying, sobbing and shaking. Then comes the call. She is needed on set. And so she goes back to work, singing and dancing an energetic tap dance number that requires a joy she is nowhere close to feeling. But that is her job, and so she reaches in somewhere deep inside and pulls it out.

My curiosity piqued, this weekend I watched Judy Garland - The Concert Years. While I wouldn't recommend sitting through this dull documentary to any but the most devoted Judy fans, (her obnoxious daughter Lorna does the film no service with her phony narration) this little gem was nestled in at the very end. I think it explains precisely what made Judy Garland so irreplaceable. She was unafraid to be completely vulnerable and the frailty let her gift shine through brilliantly, giving us a little glimpse of what life really is. Her story reminds me a great deal of Edith Piaf's, and also of this quote:

"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets through." -Leonard Cohen

Watch this clip, and tell me if you agree.

1 comment:

MAB Jewelry said...

Judy Garland can make me cry faster than any other film star. There's something so delicate and fragile and tragic about her. When I hear her sing, I just tear up.

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