Judy Garland at 100 | Page 2 | The Popjustice Forum

Judy Garland at 100

Discussion in 'Comeback corner' started by Guyhawke!, Jun 11, 2022.

  1. This thread wouldn't be complete without mentioning 'A Star Is Born', which completes the trilogy of Judy's most revered films alongside 'The Wizard Of Oz' and 'Meet Me In St. Louis'.

    At the age of 28, Judy's movie career had come to a halt. It would be four years until she would grace cinema screens again, this time for Warner Bros in a film that she and new husband Sid Luft partially financed. 'A Star Is Born' had been Judy's dream project for over a decade since she first performed in a radio version of the original 1937 film. The story of a star on the rise in a romantic relationship with a man whose star is beginning to dim was a grittier interpretation of Hollywood than she was used to playing, but one that she intuitively understood.

    The complicated history of the 1954 remake of 'A Star Is Born' is well documented, but the crib note version is as follows: The initial previews were met with overwhelming praise, but movie theatre owners were concerned that the runtime of over three hours would mean reduced daily showings and less profits. Cuts were made prior to general release without consulting director George Cukor, so many expository scenes were removed which hampered the narrative. It would take almost 30 years until Cukor's original vision would be restored, but even now key footage remains lost. It is truly 'the film that got away'.

    'A Star Is Born' is Judy's masterpiece. Take her performance of 'The Man That Got Away'. Composed by Harold Arlen (who wrote both 'Over The Rainbow' and 'Get Happy') with lyrics by Ira Gershwin, this song is delivered not as a major production number but as an after-hours jam in a dive club where Judy's character Esther has gone to unwind. She is watched in the darkness by Norman Maine as the seeds of their doomed romance are planted in the lyrics. Judy's daughter Lorna recently called it 'a dazzling pop aria in plain clothes' and noted that her mother's voice 'seems to express the heartache and regret of every love-affair-gone-bad since the beginning of time'.

    Judy knew what was riding on her performance. This was a high stakes comeback in an era before that phrase had been invented. But it was also a re-introduction to an adult Judy, a woman who no longer resembled the MGM ingenue. Years later she reflected on this period and said: 'I started to sing and I discovered an entirely new voice: a much more powerful voice. I've had that voice ever since'.

    Last edited: Jun 14, 2022
  2. THE version of A Star Is Born for me. Judy was extraordinary and truly robbed of that Oscar win.
  3. Honestly she should’ve been nominated for I Could Go On Singing too. It has one of her all time best scenes - one that was largely improvised at that.
  4. Such a brilliant performance. It was on the BBC the other night, so I think it'll be on iPlayer for any UK viewers. It's well worth a watch.
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  5. In the early 1950s following her departure from MGM, Judy turned her attention to concert appearances. Whilst she had done many radio appearances dating back to the 1930s, performing 'in concert' had been a much rarer occurrence. In 1951, husband Sid Luft secured a deal to renovate the Palace Theatre in New York and have Judy reopen it as the headliner of a 'two a day' vaudeville show. Judy's Palace residency ran for a record-breaking 19 weeks, earned her a Tony Award, and secured her reputation as a triumphant live artist.

    Following the disappointing commercial success of 'A Star Is Born' with no more film offers on the table, Sid began looking at other opportunities for his wife. Still in its infancy, television was a lucrative medium for established performers. In 1955, Judy was approached to star in the premiere of 'The Ford Star Jubilee', a weekly variety show. The live episode would be built around Judy's legendary Palace act, a safe bet for a woman who had expressed reservations about the television format and was still self-conscious after having recently had her third child.

    Fraught with nerves and exhaustion in the lead up, Judy took too many sleeping pills just as dawn broke on the morning of the telecast. An ice-cold shower failed to revive her and when she was eventually taken to rehearsal, her throat seized up and she couldn't sing. When the show began, Judy was still not in control of her instrument - was this really the award-winning act she had wowed New York with only a few years earlier?

    And then, as would often happen with Judy's live concerts, something miraculous occurred. Her Palace act would always end with Judy sitting on the edge of the stage singing 'Over The Rainbow' whilst still dressed as a bearded tramp from the previous number. The costume made her look even more vulnerable, a childlike urchin who sang about an optimistic dream of better days. When Judy reached this part of the live telecast, the cracks in her voice that were initially flaws became pathos. She pushed herself to deliver the one song in her oeuvre she felt was most sacred and uncovered new emotion in the well-worn lyric.

    When she returned to her dressing room, Judy's wrists were bleeding. 'I had to dig deep for those last notes in 'Rainbow' and I didn't realise it', she said. 'I had my hands behind me and I just dug my nails into my wrists'.

    It is one of the greatest performances of her entire career, sung not as Dorothy but as troubled Frances Gumm trying to live up to the expectations of Judy Garland. How fortunate we are that a kinescope recording still exists so we can all have a front row seat.

    Last edited: Jun 16, 2022
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  6. Judy entered the 1960s as a touring artist. She debuted her new two-act concert, the first of its kind for a female 'pop' artist, at the Palladium in London before taking it to Paris, Germany, Amsterdam and then back to the United States. The most important date on this tour was on April 23, 1961 when she played Carnegie Hall, an engagement that was called 'the greatest night in show business history'.

    Her iconic set consisted of 25 songs, all faultlessly delivered in the brassy, full-throated style that had come to define Judy's voice in concert. In the audience were Rock Hudson, Carol Channing, Richard Burton and Julie Andrews. The rest was comprised of what the New York Times called Garland 'cultists', enthusiastic fans who leapt from their seats to crowd the stage in a 'religious ritual'. On the live recording 'Judy At Carnegie Hall', their vocal performance is almost as impassioned as Judy's; at one point during the encores, the audience is so riotously appreciative that she gleefully responds 'I know, I'll sing them all and we'll stay all night!'

    There's coded language at play here, with the New York Times insinuating that these 'cultists' were gay men. A few years later, Time magazine would be more direct and note that a 'disproportionate part of her nightly claque seems to be homosexual' and that the 'boys in the tight trousers roll their eyes, tear at their hair and practically levitate from their seats'. Judy was the first female singer to be considered a gay icon, a status she fully embraced:
    The double LP recording of the concert reached #1 for 13 weeks and won four Grammy Awards, including Album Of The Year. The closest we have to video footage of the historic show was captured at the start of 1962 in a one-off television special called 'The Judy Garland Show' where she recreated parts of her Carnegie Hall repertoire. Although the special featured guest stars Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, the closing sequence was all Judy as she tore through her concert standards 'You Made Me Love You', 'The Trolley Song', 'Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody', 'Swanee' and 'San Francisco'. She builds to the electric conclusion like a prizefighter, hitting harder and harder until her voice threatens to launch into the stratosphere. The producer of the special Norman Jewison said 'the last [few] minutes of that show was the most exciting TV I ever did'.

    Last edited: Jun 18, 2022
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  7. What an absolute piece of music history there and right there. A record breaking release too-first Woman ever to score the Grammy for Album Of The Year too. Love how Judy has that honour, feels very appropriate somehow.
  8. @WhatKindOfKylie? has already mentioned the film and this wonderful song...

    In 1963, Judy travelled to England to make her final movie 'I Could Go On Singing'. In it she played a character called Jenny, a thinly-veiled version of herself - a famous singer who tours the world whilst struggling with stagefright, the guilt of being an absent parent, and a dependency on alcohol. 'A Star Is Born' is Judy's masterpiece, but this one is easily the closest to a biopic made during her lifetime.

    The filming was marked by Judy's unreliability which sadly became increasingly common in her latter years. Director Ronald Neame said:
    There's a particularly brilliant hospital scene where the romantic lead Dirk Bogarde is trying to convince Judy's character to return to the theatre and finish her concert engagement. Judy/Jenny speaks of how impossible it is for her to live up to what the audience wants, saying she is 'stretched too thin and everyone wants a bite'. It is yet another very meta moment in a career where art often imitated life.

    The best parts of the movie are the performance scenes, shot at the London Palladium where Judy kicked off her 1960s renaissance as a touring artist. 'By Myself' is the standout, a jazz standard that Judy had included in a jaunty, upbeat arrangement on her 1957 album 'Alone'. Here it is reimagined as a devastating showstopper, a version she called her 'favourite of all time'. The performance captures both her incandescent talent and, in the closing shot as she storms off stage, the tempestuous personality that dominated much of the cultural lore about the 'difficult' Judy in the 1960s.

  9. I re-watched I Could Go On Singing on Friday, and it truly is fitting finale film wise for Judy Garland. The Jenny Bowman character (a few differences aside), is near enough herself in all but name. I love how Judy herself called this rendition of By Myself "her favourite of all time". It is certainly mine out of that back catalogue of so many sublime songs and performances. Gives me goosebumps each and every-time. A true DIVA moment.
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  10. Can't have a thread on Judy and not post this:

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  11. ‘Girl Crazy’ was a hoot, but that ‘I Got Rhythm’ scene really is something, no wonder it took Judy to the edge

    I’ve ordered a Judy DVD boxset, so looking forward to diving into the films after only taking in the music for so long.
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  12. Hope you enjoy-truly so many classics and great performances.
    Guyhawke! likes this.
  13. One of so many exquisite performances from 'The Judy Garland Show'. It may have been hampered by poor comedy writing and an inconsistent tone owing to the constant changes enforced by CBS, but Judy herself is uniformly magnificent. I love her version of 'Old Man River', definitely a highlight of the entire series along with her emotional articulation of a nation's grief in 'Battle Hymn Of The Republic':

    This one is underrated, a pairing of 'Paris Is A Lonely Town' and 'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes'. Judy's affection for the former is evident, but by all accounts she despised the latter; she gives what appears to be a sincere performance, until it starts to transform into a gently subversive and surreal sketch...

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  14. The Judy Garland Show, needs repeating. I'd love to see it show on TV properly.
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  15. Judy Garland's life ended in 1969 at the age of 47. She died in London by an accidental overdose of barbiturates, with various specialists speculating she may also have had cirrhosis and an eating disorder. Her body was flown back to New York where an estimated 20,000 people came to the funeral home to pay their respects. There is a mythology connecting the emotional outpouring of grief from the LGBT community in New York to the riots at the Stonewall Inn the following day; whatever the truth is Judy remains at the centre of queer identification, infiltrating lexicon like 'friend of Dorothy' and 'good Judy' as well as the symbolism of the rainbow pride flag.

    I didn't want this thread commemorating her centenary to be consumed by the spectre of tragedy. There is no question that Judy experienced great challenges in the last few years of her life. However, the persistent notion that she 'lost her voice' is simply not true - it weakened, in part because of having her stomach pumped in Hong Kong in 1964 and the subsequent vocal cord damage, but Judy adapted her instrument accordingly. This is best seen in her performance of 'By Myself' on 'The Hollywood Palace' in 1966. She is tentative at the start, conserving her vocal energy until the end when she pushes through a hoarse and occasionally unreliable voice to deliver an inspired finale.

    What is also lost in this all-encompassing narrative of Judy's tragedy is her sense of humour, something that is on full display in her appearance on 'The Jack Parr Show' in 1964. Towards the end of the show, Judy is prompted to recount an anecdote about Marlene Dietrich. It is a masterclass in the art of shade, as she 'reads' her contemporary with a mischievous glint in her eye: 'I don't mean this harshly... however'. Judy tells the story with such expert mimicry and comic timing you can't help but wonder how many other excellent tales she curated for dinner party audiences, and yearn to have heard them.

    Whether it was as an actor, a dancer, a vocalist, a concert performer, or simply a conversationalist, Judy was a thrilling, unique talent, the likes of which we have never seen again. Happy 100th birthday, Miss Show Business.

    Last edited: Jun 20, 2022
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  16. I remember Barbara Walters was being interviewed and someone asked her who kept her waiting the longest for an interview, and Walters responded with Garland, “five hours”. When asked if it was worth the wait, Walters said, “Yes, absolutely”.

    Judy seemed to be highly respected by her peers. Even Aretha Franklin, who could be a bit frosty in regards to other singers, called Judy one of the great divas in her own autobiography when she discussed the subject of divas.
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  17. Judy Garland, a total one off. LOVED reading this thread.
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  18. A few new Judy releases to celebrate the centenary of her birth:


    Judy At 100 - 26 Classics In Stereo!

    A compilation using modern technology to separate elements of these original mono recordings and recombine them into stereo mixes. 22 of the 26 tracks are brand new faux stereo mixes, and the results are pretty impressive. It's a contemporary way to listen to some classic recordings and covers most of her 'hits'.

    01. Over The Rainbow (MGM Film Version)
    02. (Dear Mr. Gable) You Made Me Love You
    03. Singin' In The Rain
    04. For Me And My Gal (with Gene Kelly)
    05. The Trolley Song
    06. On The Atchison, Topeka And The Santa Fe
    07. I'm Always Chasing Rainbows
    08. Look For The Silver Lining
    09. You'll Never Walk Alone
    10. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
    11. I'm Nobody's Baby
    12. Get Happy
    13. I Don't Care
    14. By Myself
    15. Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody
    16. April Showers
    17. Me And My Shadow
    18. Last Night When We Were Young
    19. The Man That Got Away
    20. Do It Again
    21. Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart
    22. Puttin' On The Ritz
    23. Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again (with Barbra Streisand)
    24. Battle Hymn Of The Republic
    25. Ol' Man River
    26. Over The Rainbow (1955 Studio Version)


    In Person, Long Beach Municipal Auditorium 1955

    A live recording of a mid-1950s charity gig the year after 'A Star Is Born'. Frank Sinatra rented a luxury bus to take him and his friends (including Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Humphrey Bogart) to see Judy's concert and had the performance recorded and pressed on vinyl as keepsake souvenirs. This is the first time it has been officially released, rounded off by some bonus tracks from the Decca era.

    01. Let's Have A Party (with The Hi-Los)
    02. The Man That Got Away
    03. Carolina In The Morning
    04. Medley: This Is The Time Of The Evening/While We're Young (with The Hi-Los)
    05. A Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow
    06. Judy's Olio Medley: You Made Me Love You/For Me And My Gal/The Boy Next Door/The Trolley Song
    07. Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody
    08. After You've Gone
    09. A Couple Of Swells (with Paul Sanchez)
    10. Over The Rainbow
    11. Liza
    12. Swanee

    + bonus tracks


    The Final Concert In Copenhagen

    Judy's final stage concert in Copenhagen, Denmark on March 25, 1969. This is the first release of the whole concert, including two rare duets, sourced from two soundboard tapes to create the best possible sound quality. She races through some of the numbers as was common towards the end of her career, but she still gives a spirited performance.

    01. Overture
    02. Get Happy
    03. Just In Time
    04. The Man That Got Away
    05. I'd Like To Hate Myself In The Morning
    06. For Once In My Life
    07. Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody
    08. Over The Rainbow (Orchestral Interlude)
    09. Chicago
    10. Till The Clouds Roll By (with Johnnie Ray)
    11. Am I Blue? (with Johnnie Ray)
    12. San Francisco
    13. Over The Rainbow
    14. Over The Rainbow (Orchestral Interlude)

    Last edited: Jul 6, 2022
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  19. The amount of classic songs that Judy has, is just staggering.
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