“I want what everybody wants. I just seem to have a harder time getting it.” ~Judy Garland
BY: RANDAL C. HILL
She was born Frances Ethel Gumm in 1922, the youngest of three girls who performed in vaudeville acts as one of the Gumm Sisters. A zealous actress and singer as a young teenager, Judy Garland signed with MGM and appeared in over two dozen films. Most notable was the 1939 The Wizard of Oz, which featured the 17-year-old premiering the song Over the Rainbow while strolling through a barnyard.
Following years of Judy Garland’s struggles against the soul-crushing pressures of the entertainment world, MGM released her in 1950. She soldiered on, making more movies, recording eight studio albums and performing. At age 39, she became the youngest (and first female) recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in the movie
Judy focuses on the calamitous end of the superstar’s life, which finds Garland unable to get work in her home country, and struggling to pay her bills and care for her children.
Throughout her life, Judy Garland was plagued by battles with alcohol and drugs, which ultimately led to her accidental death at age 47 in London in 1969.
Oscar-winner Renee Zellweger adroitly captures the tumultuous peak of Garland’s
hardscrabble life. The film portrays her tumultuous relationships with musicians, fans, family and management. Much of it takes place at London’s prestigious Talk of the Town club, where she performed for five weeks to sold-out crowds shortly before she died.
One of Judy’s most poignant moments comes when Garland, in the midst of a standing ovation at Talk of the Town, tearfully asks her fans in a shaky voice, “You won’t forget me, will you? Promise you won’t.”
“It was such a joy learning about the magnificence of this person,” Zellweger told People. “I always admired her.” In a performance guaranteed to generate 2020 Oscar buzz, the 50-year-old onetime Bridget Jones and Chicago star took voice and choreography lessons and
delved deeply into the life of the ill-fated entertainer.
Zellweger also had prosthetics, contact lenses and wigs applied for two hours each day.
Adapted from Peter Quilter’s musical play End of the Rainbow, Judy also features Michael Gambon, Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock and Rufus Sewell.
Adapted for the screen by Tom Edge, the film was directed by Rupert Goold, who told Variety, “For over 40 years, Judy Garland had laughed and loved and entertained…But she paid a price in a childhood lost to Hollywood, an emotional exhaustion and a yearning
for a ‘normal’ life beyond the rainbow.”
Pathe, BBC Films and Ingenious Media release Judy on September 27th.