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Entries in Judy Garland (81)

Thursday
Mar092017

Three Fittings: Haute Couture Hallucinations in "The Pirate"

New Series! Three Fittings celebrates costume design in the movies.

The whitest Caribbean ladies of all time! And why is Judy wearing a kilt balled up on her head?

We kicked off with La La Land and Allied but after a break for Oscar madness we're back with an old classic. Or perhaps this movie is better described as a notorious curio though that doesn't have the same blurb power. Regardless, Vincent Minelli's The Pirate (1948) has to be seen to be believed.

You must watch it while sober for the movie is its own pharmaceutical enhancements. I'm still having sudden flashbacks. Which is all well and good since hallucinations and fever dreams are plotted right in. 

Stay with me through this elaborate but crucial plot point. When travelling actor Serafin (Gene Kelly) hypnotizes the newly-engaged Manuela (Judy Garland) he realizes that she romantically fantasizes about the infamous pirate Macoco and promptly pretends to be him...

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Wednesday
Dec282016

Judy by the Numbers: Sunday Night at the Palladium

Anne Marie has spent each Wednesday morning this year, investigating Judy Garland's career through musical numbers. And now, the finale...

Somehow, we've reached the end of this series, this year, and the life and career of this incredible performer. Though Judy never starred in another television show or movie after 1964, she stayed busy with tours and TV guest star gigs, including a recurring spot as Johnny Carson's guest on The Tonight Show. Her touring schedule brought her frequently to England, where she was taped one last time in front of an audience in a sold-out January performance at the London Palladium.

The Show: "Sunday Night at the Palladium"
The Songwriters: Various
The Cast: Judy Garland 

The Story: It was a bittersweet discovery to find that the full kinescope of Judy Garland's last television performance, Sunday Night at the Palladium, has been almost totally lost to time. Though sound recordings of the special exist, the only actual image currently available is sixteen silent seconds of Garland taking her final bows. It's an oddly perfect way to end the series, though... 

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Wednesday
Dec212016

Judy by the Numbers: "Hello, Dolly!"

Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

With only two weeks left in the year, how do we cover the five remaining years of Judy Garland's life? I've tried as much as possible to deliver beautiful numbers and biographical details as near as I could verify in between bits of high-spirited hagiography. Unfortunately, the complicated myth built by talent, timing, and Hollywood studios only amplified after her death, making fact and fiction nearly impossible to untangle...

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Wednesday
Dec142016

Judy by the Numbers: "Smile"

Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

On January 22, 1964, CBS announced the inevitable: The Judy Garland Show would be cancelled after just one season. Though the network stated that the cancellation was so that Judy could spend more time with her family, the subpar ratings and tumultuous backstage difficulties had made the show untenable for the studio. In fact, less than a month after the announcement - after Episode 22 was shot - Judy ended the longest artistic partnership she'd had on the show when she fired Mel Torme. Musical director replaced and show revamped for the fifth time, Judy still ended the series looking and singing like a million bucks.

The ShowThe Judy Garland Show Episode 22
The Songwriters: Charlie Chaplin (original score), John Turner & Geoffrey Parsons
The Cast: Judy Garland, directed by Dean Whitmore

The Story: The style the show settled on was one with which Judy was familiar, and which had inspired the series to begin with: the concert. Guests were winnowed down to one or two (or none) per episode, sketches were cut, and instead the series focused on producing mini-concerts beamed directly to American living rooms. No longer needing to memorize lines or force interactions, Judy instead used the format to let her talent and the emotion of the songs carry her away, as she did in this bittersweet version of "Smile." Though the show would not go off the air until late March, it left a lasting impression on fans. A fan-led write-in protest was even started to try to resurrect it. The series had an effect on Judy, as well. With her third marriage and her television career over, Judy turned back to tours to spend time on the two things she loved most: her children, and her fans.

Wednesday
Dec072016

Judy by the Numbers: "The Judy Garland Christmas Show"

Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

Full disclosure: I am in the middle of finals hell, wherein I have to write roughly 45 pages and grade exactly 48 exams before I can finally collapse at home for the holidays. So this episode is an especially selfish choice on my part. Since it's been a rocky year, I thought the best choice would be to post the entire episode, so that we could come together over a warm Christmas computer and spend the holidays with Judy.

The ShowThe Judy Garland Show Episode 15
The Songwriters: Various, arrangement by Mel Torme
The Cast: Judy Garland, Mel Torme, Liza Minnelli, directed by Dean Whitmore

The Story: Call me a sap (and I am), but I cannot watch Judy Garland sing "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" while she and her children watch fake snow fall out of a studio set window. In a season that seems to demand yearly special televised events, The Judy Garland Christmas Show ranks as one of the most special Like every episode of The Judy Garland Show, there are some nasty rumors that have risen to the level of legend: that Judy and Mel were fighting, which caused her to flub his name and two song lyrics, that Judy refused to rehearse, that she was high, etc. But somehow the backstage antipathy doesn't diminish the near-camp joy of Judy and co. sitting around a mid-century fireplace singing the songs that she made famous. Much of it has to do with her kids: as the Luft siblings and Liza make appearances, their improvised bits may be stagey, but their affection for their mother is real. Gaffes, bad jokes, and creepy Santa dancers notwithstanding, The Judy Garland Christmas Show remains a classic staple of holiday television.

Wednesday
Nov302016

Judy by the Numbers: "I Like Men Medley"

 Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

So it may not look like it offhand, but today's episode marked another big shift in the rocky history of The Judy Garland Show. After producing seven episodes, firing most of the staff, kicking Jerry Van Dyke to the curb and reformatting the show, Norman Jewison exited as planned after the 13th taped episode. He would be replaced by Bill Colleran, a producer from Your Hit Parade.

The ShowThe Judy Garland Show Episode 13
The Songwriters: Various, arrangement by Mel Torme
The Cast: Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, produced by Norman Jewison

The Story: (My favorite part is the surprise boas at 3:00.) Though Jewison wasn't able to improve the unsteady ratings of The Judy Garland Show, the episodes he produced would set the established characteristics of the show at its peak. More cinematic production, the movement away from sketch comedy, and an emphasis on music and a variety of guest stars all defined Jewison's tenure on the show. The Peggy Lee medley exemplifies all of these qualities, but also points towards the show under Colleran's stewardship: two cabaret singers belting standards. Colleran would transition the show towards a concert format. But before he could complete that transition, it was time for Christmas.

Wednesday
Nov232016

Judy by the Numbers: "Moon River"

 Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the simple things. This series (like TFE as a whole) has been a classic cinephile sanctuary for me this year. As the outside world has spun out, sped up, slammed down, and generally tossed us around, I’ve really enjoyed sharing music and tidbits of trivia with you all this week, and reading your reactions/stories/controversies – even when I haven’t been able to reply myself. So briefly, before we get to this beautiful solo number, I just want to thank Nathaniel & you, the TFE readers, for continuing to create a lively, loving community.

The ShowThe Judy Garland Show Episode 12
The Songwriters: Johnny Mercer (lyrics), Henry Mancini (music)
The Cast: Judy Garland, Vic Damone, Zina Bethune, George Jessel directed by Norman Jewison

The Story: I just realized that this is the first solo from The Judy Garland Show that I’ve featured on the series! Judy actually did several per show, but usually the highlight of the show was her duets and collaborations with odd guests, musical legends and nascent superstars. However, this version of “Moon River” is a good reminder of what made the show so good.

It’s not just the trivia or the name-that-guest throwback; it’s the genuine skill andoccasional artistry overlaid with real emotion. The number is comprised of two long takes, as the camera moves in and pulls away from Judy. The scene actually resembles the long take of “The Man That Got Away” from just a decade before. The camera dances through a shadowy set. Garland, bathed in spotlight, alternately moves with the camera and stands getting lost in the song, and adding wry humor to sweetly sad lyrics. Her quiet sweetness the emotional and cinematic complexity of her song.