Sunday, March 21, 2010

Judy Garland in A Star Is Born (performance review)




After having been fired from MGM, legendary singer and actress Judy Garland decided to have a comeback and to do it, she proposed to do a remake of the 1937 film A Star Is Born. Judy plays Ester Blodgett (Her name is changed to Vicki Lester once she becomes an actress) a singer who is traveling on a tour with a male band. After saving Norman Maine, a washed up movie star who drinks too much, from public embarasment, she and the band practice at a local nightclub. She sings "The Man That Got Away", which becomes the theme of the film. Let me just say that this is one of the most moving songs you'll ever hear. Just enchanting. And the way Judy sings it, just wow. Norman realizes that she has great potential to become a star and he promises her to get her a screen test at the studio. She eventually does and when a star backs out of the picture, she is cast instead. Both she and Norman attend a preview of it, which of course, is "Born In A Trunk". This is just a stunning showcase for Judy. She does everything in this number. And that final "In Pocatella, Idaho" is mindblowing. I mean, how did she do that? After that, Vicki has offically become a star. She and Norman get married and she is nominated and wins an Academy Award. But the drunken Norman upstages her speech and embarasse's her and everyone. We then see her working on a production number for the film she is working on. After that is over, she takes a break in her dressing room and her boss comes to see her. During this scene, Vicki completely breaks down since Norman's drinking problem has gotten so bad that he has to go to a facility to cope with it. This is a devastating scene. What I like most about it is all the conflicting emotions that Judy conveys. Sadness, biterness,anger, desperation, hope. And it's brilliantly acted by her. After Norman is arrested after being released, she decides to quit pictures and move out of America with Norman, hoping that this will make things better. Her boss tells her that Norman is empty and that he will never be what he once was. Norman overhears this and shortly after, commits sucide. Heartbroken, Vicki holes up in her house and refuses to speak to anyone. But she is convinced by her old band member that she is doing what Norman dreaded. Wasting her career. She decides to go to the benefit at the Shrine and before she sings she states "Hello everybody. This is.... Mrs Norman Maine". A truly heartbreaking moment, perfectly delivered by her, and is followed by a standing ovation, which is the end of the film. Overall, one of the best performances I've ever seen and one of the Academy's biggest mistakes. Grace Kelly was great, but snubbing Judy was a crime. But Judy now has something greater then the Oscar. She is loved and remembered all over the world and her talent will always be cherished

6 comments:

Sage Slowdive said...

Love it :]

joe burns said...

Thanks!

Celso said...

A great review of a great performance!

joe burns said...

Thank you! What do you think of the film?

Burning Reels said...

Nice piece Joe - it's good to have the ranking and lists but also nice to have the reviews for a balance:)

Devastating performance - very good film.

joe burns said...

Thanks! Yes, I really like the film too, and James Mason was also excellent! The only complaint I have with it is that I wish that that there had been more scenes with from Judy's point of view instead of most with Norman. But a brilliant performance!