Thursday, June 10, 2010

Judy Garland's birthday

Judy Garland isn't my favorite actress, but she's a very famous one, so TCM is marking her birthday today with a morning and afternoon of her movies. I've commented before that she does a good job as an actress, and not just a singer, in movies such as The Clock (airing at 12:45 PM ET). It's her singing I don't care so much for, evidenced by a movie like I Could Go On Singing, which conclude the day of Garland movies at 6:15 PM.

Garland plays a popular singer who had performed in London many years ago, and is back for another singing engagement. However, that's not the only reason she's back. When she was in London all those years ago, she got knocked up by a doctor (Dirk Bogarde). Having to take care of a kid would be death to her career, so Garland decided to give custody of the kid to Bogarde, who is quite successful by now. Garland would like to be a part of her son's life now that she's older and apparently wiser. She's still selfish, though; this is all about her. She smothers the kid much beyond the point that's good for him, and to the point where Bogarde rightly realizes that what she's doing isn't good for the boy, who is after all his son too. And, of course, he's spent more time actually being a parent to the kid.

It's Judy Garland at her most stereotypically over the top and self-absorbedness. (To be honest, I don't know if she was like this in real life; it's just the way she comes across on the screen to me.) The story shouldn't be that bad; it's more that there's something about Garland in the lead role that I find so irritating. Bogarde does OK, but is an afterthough; the juvenile actor playing the now teenaged son, Gregory Phillips, does a fine job, although he apparently retired from acting in the 1970s. Also in the cast are Jack Klugman, who does a good job as Garland's agent, playing much the same way he had done a year earlier in The Days of Wine and Roses. 1930s actress Aline MacMahon, now much older, plays Garland's wardrobe woman, and is quite good too.

But, this is Garland's movie all the way. If you like Garland's singing, you'll probably love this movie; if not, you'll probably be more lukewarm about it. It's been released to DVD, although I have a feeling that if you're a Garland fan, you probably have the DVD already.

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