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The early life and struggles of Judy Garland (portrayed by Andrea McArdle), and of the film star's trials as a youngster in dealing with the Movie Studio system that held her back while her mother was forever pushing her to excel. Written by
BOB STEBBINS <email@example.com>
I was very fortunate to find a VHS tape of this movie and have watched it many times since. One never tires of seeing and hearing it. It's one of those videos you hang onto like a treasure. You do not even have to like musicals to love this musical drama. Some might say McArdle was deadpan or the like but I see her performance as a reflection of a person living an unhappy childhood (Garland). And that's how a person feels. I consider it one of the better movies I have seen. One cannot praise Andrea McArdle enough, not only for her knock out vocals but as a superb actress as well. In fact, the whole film is loaded with talented people. Never during the whole movie does one stop and think of acting ability. When the acting is great, as in this one, you forget that these are people acting out parts. It was that good. The famous Jackie Cooper also deserves a huge pat on the back as the Director. Why this movie was not promoted into top billing and put on DVD, I have no idea. It certainly runs circles around many movies pushed as the greatest. I hope that it will end up on DVD to help preserve it. This is the story of Judy Garland's early life, as she struggled into stardom. It helps us understand how she became addicted to drugs because the studio wanted her thinner. She took pills for energy, then pills to go to sleep and on it went. What a shame, she died too young. She was unhappy many times in her life. But so are many other people. I was wondering to myself why is it that we feel such compassion for the problems of a movie star, when ordinary people may go through even worse lives? There is only one answer they live public lives. We see them on the screen and we think we know them (which we don't), are a part of their lives. This movie will certainly make you feel that for Judy Garland. Judy complained to her mentor Roger Edens, that there was no use in trying. She didn't feel thin enough nor good looking enough to make it. Roger told her that he always thought she was pretty and that she had something more than the beautiful actresses, she had a voice. Yet she did make it big, but it was also her undoing in the end. Andrea has that great voice. In addition, her acting ability will make you believe every scene is for real. With a voice like that, there is no reason she could not have made it big in the movies, perhaps she didn't know the right people. However, perhaps she is lucky that she did not, because she is probably a lot happier than Judy ever was as a super star. Andrea starred on Broadway as "Annie". McArdle was nominated for a 1977 Tony Award for that part. Nothing against other singers, it is just very tough to better the voice of Andrea McArdle. When Judy's father (Don Murray) was dying in the hospital, listening to Judy (Andrea) on the radio, sing their favorite song (I'll Get By), you would have to be a made of stone not to feel it. McArdle sang a number of songs in this movie and everyone was a keeper. Forgive me if I don't get the titles exactly right, but she sang You Made Me Love You in Dear Mr. Gable, Somewhere Over The Rainbow at the end of the movie, Zing Went the Strings of My Heart, Stormy Weather, Dinah and probably more. In a couple of scenes it was mentioned that she sang in B flat and I wondered if that was the same key for both Judy and Andrea. As I said earlier, there are many talented people in this wonderful film. Michael Parks played Roger Edens in his usual low-key method. I first noticed him in a TV show from 1969 titled Then Came Bronson where he travels around the country by motorcycle seeking the meaning of life. He reminded me of the new James Dean. He has done a wealth of work over the years. Rue McClanahan played her part to a T and I am not a Rue fan, or maybe it is the parts she plays. Nice job Rue. Donna Pescow played Judy's sister Jinnie. My hat's off to anyone who will gain 40 pounds for a part as she did in Saturday Night Fever crazy, but dedicated. It is hoped good things will continue for her. Martin Balsam was Louie B. Mayer in this movie and he certainly was believable. A great actor who is missed. It is said he was a bit annoyed when fans only seemed to remember him falling down the stairs in Psycho when he had done so many other works. Piper Laurie was Judy's mother and her portrayal was a difficult one to pull off. In a kind of contradiction, she was both one of those mothers who push their kids into show business and yet she displayed a real concern for the welfare of her daughter. Piper ably wove both types into the personality of the character. Others also contributed to make this a wonderful movie. It is well worth the time you spend to view it no doubt about it absolutely! Experience this movie if you get the opportunity.
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