JUDY (2019)

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Judy (2019)

One of the most surprising things about this film was that it was made at all. Judy Garland was arguably the finest performer in the 20th Century. Her voice, her charisma, magnetism, star quality, and endless humor filled up a package that few could approach, and no one could duplicate.

So the search for a name actress who could also fulfill Garland's looks, voice and personality, must have been a daunting task. It was close, but no cigar.

The film turned out to be a relatively formulaic treatment of a hugely popular star whose career went down the tubes due to drug and alcohol abuse.

Renee Zellweger obviously gave 100% of her effort to impersonating the star. In fact she was able to perform some of Garland's typical physical movements, jerks, and gesticulations while singing.

But the decision to have the actress use her own singing voice on many of the songs was unfortunate. She did her best, but she wasn't Judy Garland. Her rendition of "Over the Rainbow" was very moving, but it was almost ruined by a trite ending to the scene involving the audience. They should have made more use of lip syncing. My guess is that the few songs selected for performance were the ones that Zellweger could handle, rather than a selection from many of Judy's great hits. Zellweger's continuous lip pursing and squinting were of her own idiosyncrasy, not Garland's.

But there were two major omissions from the screenplay. The first was the absence in Garland's written part of her phenomenal well known sense of humor. It's difficult to find any video of hers, or her many personal accounts where her lively humor wasn't present. Even when the chips were down, she always managed to make light of it.

The second was the virtual non acknowledgement (but for one small scene) of Liza Minnelli. She and Garland remained close to the end of Judy's life. But Minnelli wanted nothing to do with the Judy film project, and was very vocal in distancing herself from it. Garland's other children were well featured in the film, but they had them appear as little kids; whereas Lorna Luft was 16 in 1968, and Joey was 13. The film erroneously made it seem as though Garland abandoned her young children.

The opening of the film, and the frequent reappearance in flashback of L.B. Mayer as Garland's Svengali and oppressor became a bit much. Mayer, along with Garland's mother and Judy's prescription drug use definitely contributed to her emotional problems. But the cinematic portrayal of Mayer's dark dominance over Garland seemed like something from a horror movie.

It was the writing and several miscasting decisions that detracted from this otherwise interesting story. Finn Witrock as Judy's final husband, Mickey Deans, was a miss, but he might have brought it off with better dialogue. Even Garland's English attendant, Rosalyn Wilder, played by Jessie Buckley, was under cast. The role needed more maturity. Rufus Sewell did a believable job as Garland's ex-husband, Sid Luft. And Michael Gambon as her Brit manager turned in some nice work.

Renee Zellweger went all out for her portrayal of Judy Garland, and she deserves praise for it. Unfortunately, mostly due to the writing, it was simply not good Garland.

Doc's rating: 6/10 - chiefly for Zellweger's work

[On a personal note, I performed with Judy Garland in concert at the Cincinnati Gardens, Ohio in May of 1965. On tour she traveled with her manager, conductor, pianist and drummer. The other musicians (including me) were hired locally. We had one band rehearsal in the afternoon, then the concert in the evening. The band of about 12-13 players were set up on stage in the rear. The house was full --about 8-10,000-- and when Garland walked out on stage, one would have thought it was a divine presence. The audience went nuts. Her stage persona was electric. Each song was performed as I'd never heard anyone sing before. The set was short, with only 6-7 songs, separated by stage banter. The intermission dragged on and on. We were finally given the word to get back on stage. But when everyone was settled Garland came out somewhat supported by a man in a suit who was evidently a doctor. She informed the audience that she was running a high fever, was ill, and that she wouldn't be able to continue. With that, she apologized, thanked everyone, and walked off the stage. I'll never know whether she was really flu struck, or whether she was under the influence of booze/drugs. The band rumor was that she had become loaded. So it was no surprise that she was dead just 4 years later from barbiturate poisoning and cirrhosis. But what I witnessed in Garland's performance was like nothing I've seen before or after.]



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



'This were a short few comments that I made about this film on a different forum, posted 15 October 2019:



Judy

OMFG, Renee Zellweger is simply incredible in this! You compltely forget that this is an actress playing the part, so completely does she emerse herself in the roie - that this is Judy Garland. She really is that good! Oscar Nomination 100% on it's way is the least she deserves (not that that is necessarily an accurate indicator of quality but in this case, like Glenn Close for the Wife last year, this is a nailed on certainty). The film itself is ok and the story it tells is both servicable and respectful, but it is Zellweger's performance that carries this and really elevates it as someithing worth investing in.
http://www.talkceltic.net/forums/thr...7#post-6479264




[On a personal note, I performed with Judy Garland in concert at the Cincinnati Gardens, Ohio in May of 1965. On tour she traveled with her manager, conductor, pianist and drummer. The other musicians (including me) were hired locally. We had one band rehearsal in the afternoon, then the concert in the evening. The band of about 12-13 players were set up on stage in the rear. The house was full --about 8-10,000-- and when Garland walked out on stage, one would have thought it was a divine presence. The audience went nuts. Her stage persona was electric. Each song was performed as I'd never heard anyone sing before. The set was short, with only 6-7 songs, separated by stage banter. The intermission dragged on and on. We were finally given the word to get back on stage. But when everyone was settled Garland came out somewhat supported by a man in a suit who was evidently a doctor. She informed the audience that she was running a high fever, was ill, and that she wouldn't be able to continue. With that, she apologized, thanked everyone, and walked off the stage. I'll never know whether she was really flu struck, or whether she was under the influence of booze/drugs. The band rumor was that she had become loaded. So it was no surprise that she was dead just 4 years later from barbiturate poisoning and cirrhosis. But what I witnessed in Garland's performance was like nothing I've seen before or after.]

This was really interesting, thanks for sharing, Doc.



Beloved, revered, fragile and insecure, Garland truly was a tragic figure.



Good review of Judy, Doc. Very cool to hear of your first hand experience as a musician backing up Judy Garland at a stage show. Thanks for writing that.

One thought:
But the decision to have the actress use her own singing voice on many of the songs was unfortunate. She did her best, but she wasn't Judy Garland. Her rendition of "Over the Rainbow" was very moving, but it was almost ruined by a trite ending to the scene involving the audience. They should have made more use of lip syncing.
I can see your point, but in almost every movie where an actor lip synced, people then complain about that. Such as in Great Balls of Fire with Dennis Quad lip syncing Jerry Lee Lewis. I haven't seen Judy yet, but I will at some point, sounds like a good movie to watch as I've really enjoyed Judy Garland in her movies and her singing.



...
One thought:
I can see your point, but in almost every movie where an actor lip synced, people then complain about that. Such as in Great Balls of Fire with Dennis Quad lip syncing Jerry Lee Lewis. I haven't seen Judy yet, but I will at some point, sounds like a good movie to watch as I've really enjoyed Judy Garland in her movies and her singing.
That's a good point. Whether a singing voice is lip synced or not, people will complain.. I'll comment more after you've seen the movie. Let me know what you thought.

BTW I really enjoyed Quaid in "GBoF".



Good review of Judy, Doc. Very cool to hear of your first hand experience as a musician backing up Judy Garland at a stage show. Thanks for writing that.

One thought:
I can see your point, but in almost every movie where an actor lip synced, people then complain about that. Such as in Great Balls of Fire with Dennis Quad lip syncing Jerry Lee Lewis. I haven't seen Judy yet, but I will at some point, sounds like a good movie to watch as I've really enjoyed Judy Garland in her movies and her singing.

Personally, I liked the decision to have Renee do her own singing...it brought an added richness to the performance for me. Besides, we already know that voice can't be duplicated...there was only one Garland and I remember when they dubbed in Judy's voice for Judy Davis in Life with Judy Garland: Me and my Shadows and it took me out of the performance a little bit every time Davis opened her mouth to sing. Renee captured Garland's style, even if she didn't duplicate the voice.



Personally, I liked the decision to have Renee do her own singing...it brought an added richness to the performance for me. Besides, we already know that voice can't be duplicated...there was only one Garland and I remember when they dubbed in Judy's voice for Judy Davis in Life with Judy Garland: Me and my Shadows and it took me out of the performance a little bit every time Davis opened her mouth to sing. Renee captured Garland's style, even if she didn't duplicate the voice.
Yeah, Zellweger did a pretty fair job of impersonating Garland's stage motions, but other than that it was not real close. Judy Davis on the other hand really nailed Judy's voice, personality and expressions. Of course Davis' picture was much more comprehensive in recounting Garland's life. I believe Davis won the Golden Globe for that portrayal.



To give an idea of how lively Garland's humor was, here's a Jack Paar show from 1962. She comes on at about 16:15, and the rest of the show is very enjoyable. I actually remember watching this when it aired. It's got a great ending...



Here's a shorter clip of her from 1967 on Paar's show. She looks fairly worn, but still has that sense of humor. She may have been terminally ill by that time: