The movie starts off at the beginning of Judy Garland's life singing when she was two years old. It jumps to when she was 12 and was signed by MGM and later when her father dies. The movie tells about her early struggles with MGM and with the addiction to barbiturates. It then jumps to the marriage to Vincette Minelli and the struggles with that, and leads into the rest of the movie and her marriages to Sid Luft, Mark Herron, and Mickey Deans and ends when she dies in 1969 —CR
Probably the Closest Thing We Will Ever Have to a Definitive Biography of a Show Biz Legend
There have been a lot of show business biographies put on film, but for the most part, they are sketchy and fictionalized. Judy Garland was a show business legend, who even though much has been written about her, a definitive film biography has alluded us. An NBC TV movie was made in the 80's called RAINBOW, but it only covered Garland's childhood to the time she was cast in THE WIZARD OF OZ. At long last, we finally were gifted with a surprisingly factual and lavishly produced TV movie called LIFE WITH JUDY GARLAND: ME AND MY SHADOWS, a two-part mini-series which chronicles Garland's life from her first audition for MGM to her tragic death in 1969. Most show biz biopics tend to fictionalize material for dramatic effect or lack of knowledge of the facts, but I trust the facts presented here because there are several events recreated here that I have actually heard Garland herself talk about in interviews. Some things are omitted and/ or glossed over (Her first marriage to David Rose is barely mentioned), but when you only have 2 hours and 45 minutes to tell the story, some fact-trimming is necessary. The filmmakers wisely chose two actresses to play the teenage and adult Garland. Tammy Blanchard and Judy Davis both won Emmys for their work as young Frances Gumm and the adult Judy Garland. Davis, in particular, is astonishing in a powerhouse performance that just gets richer and more complex upon repeat viewings. Another wise decision to dub original Garland recordings for Davis' singing voice further enhances the power of the piece. I read that prior to shooting, Davis watched every movie Garland made and as much concert footage as she could get her hands on and her homework pays off in spades here. Her recreations of "The Trolley Song" from MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS and "The Man that Got Away" from A STAR IS BORN are positively spooky. Victor Garber gives the performance of his career as Judy's volatile third husband, Sid Luft. Hugh Laurie is a little too masculine as Judy's 2nd hubby, Vincente Minnelli, whose rumored bisexuality prior to meeting Judy is part of Hollywood folklore. There is also solid work from Sonja Smits and John Benjamin Hickey as Judy's good friends, Kay Thompson and Roger Edens and by Dwayne Addams as a young Mickey Rooney. There is also a memorable turn from Marhsa Mason as Ethel Gumm, Judy's hard-nosed mother. A hauntingly accurate look at the tragic life of, arguably, Hollywood's greatest creation, whose very human troubles never allowed her to live up to the creation.
- Oct 6, 2006
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