As the first big screen biopic about JUDY GARLAND, the new film, “Judy” is a major disappointment.
In an era where song dubbing is hardly ever done, we have Renee Zellweger doing her own singing. As a review in the Spectator (by Tanya Gold) said: “We are enjoined to be spellbound by a woman whose voice is barely adequate…….what is left of Judy Garland when you remove her voice….”
I also agree with Leonard Maltin who said, “Nobody ever sang – or sings – like Judy Garland and attempting to cover for her just doesn’t work.”
Focusing on the last 6 months of Judy Garland’s life ( before her early death at 47 in June 1969), Renee Zellweger certainly transforms herself, as the above picture shows, but without that unique voice, she isn’t Judy.
And I don’t go along with the comments that say, well, you know, Judy’s voice wasn’t great then, as if that’s an excuse for the fact we are listening to someone who is at best an average singer.
Judy’s voice was so distinctive, even towards the end of her life.
Part of the problem with the film is that for anyone who doesnt know Judy Garland, you might wonder what all the fuss is about.
This film tells the story of a woman whose life is in turmoil – she’s addicted to prescription medication, she’s separated from her children, she’s in a desperate financial state and she’s trying to honour the contract she has to sing every night .
The only evidence that this was once a great star is in flashbacks to the set of “The Wizard of Oz”, with a ludicrous scene of Judy and MGM ‘s Louis B. Mayer walking along the yellow brick road and ‘Miss Gulch’ riding by them on her bike!
Jumping from 1939 to 1969 without showing us how Judy arrived at the situation she was in is just bad writing.
Someone not mentioned in the film is Lorna Smith whom Judy phoned when she arrived in London. Lorna was a longtime Judy fan who had first met Judy in 1960.
During the day Lorna worked in the Inland Revenue and every night after work she would go to Judy’s hotel and help dress her for the performance at the Talk of the Town. Lorna would stand in the wings and be in Judy’s dressing room after the performance.
Lorna formed the International Judy Garland fan club (with Judy’s approval ) in the 1960s. Judy came to a fan club meeting at the Russell hotel in London in 1964 and sang ‘Make Someone Happy’.
Lorna is now 93 and first saw Judy in person at the London Palladium In 1951. It’s not clear whether the film producers approached her for comment.
Lorna saw Judy 6 days before Judy died and brought her pearls as a birthday gift. Lorna also wrote a book, “Judy With Love.”
(Judy died 2 weeks after her 47th birthday.)
I’m re-watching the 2001 two-part TV series, “Me and my Shadows”, which starred Judy Davis as Garland. Based on Lorna Luft’s memoir, it uses Judy’s vocals to great effect and Judy Davis gives a great performance. (It’s on You Tube.)
Judy’s reaction to the film?
I go along with Lorna Luft who said, “If you really want to know about my mom, go see her movies and go listen to her recordings.”
I’ve just seen on the big screen the restored A STAR IS BORN – all 2hrs.57 mins. What a joy. (Even though the friend with me – that’s you,Margaret! – told me she preferred the Barbra Streisand version.)