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  • Writer's pictureKen Murray

The Movie Judy is Definitely Worth Seeing

Updated: Oct 10, 2019

*** Spoiler Alert - Movie Summary Follows ****

Shelly and I saw the movie Judy today. I remember the teenage Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, which I’ve seen dozens of times, but I was too young to follow her as an adult. I remember the news when she died of a drug overdose in 1969, and that she was a great singer and actress. But other than that, I knew nothing about her.

The movie stars Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland and begins with her as a teenager on the set of The Wizard of Oz around 1938. She is both praised by studio executive Louis B. Mayer as a great performer with a golden voice and denigrated as being overweight and having to choose either a life as a star, or that of a plain, Midwest housewife. To be a star, she would need to take amphetamines to work tirelessly and keep her weight down and commit to his tyranny.

The film fast forwards to around 1968 where Judy is making small stage appearances with her two children for very little money. We learn she has sabotaged her career through alcohol and continued drug abuse, and despite being one of the greatest entertainers in the world, is unemployable and homeless. We also learn about her devotion to her two young children, and desire to be a good mother and provide for them.

To earn enough money to provide a home for, and retain custody of her children, Judy reluctantly takes a job performing at the Talk of the Town nightclub in London. She leaves her children with her ex-husband and begins her nightly show. Although her initial performances and critical reviews are positive, her inner demons drive her deeper into depression and addiction. Her performances become more erratic as she frequently arrives late and under the influence.

Throughout the movie there are flashbacks to Judy on the set of The Wizard of Oz, where she is continually berated, disciplined, controlled and drugged. She has no family looking out for her and is treated as a product. This is why as an adult; she longs to be with her children and protect them from the evils of show business.

Flash forward to 1968, Judy is having breakdowns, and loses it and collapses on stage amid boos from the crowd who also throw food at her in disgust. She loses her job and prepares to leave London but manages one more solid performance of Over the Rainbow where the audience joins her in singing. The movie ends and we learn she died just 6 months later.

Renee Zellweger is extraordinary. She exhibits facial tics and mannerisms that are spot on. She sings all the songs herself and has a wonderful voice. Her performance made me want to learn more about Judy Garland.

The movie was tragic, a no-holds-bar expose on the life of a fading, depressed star succumbing to her addictions again and again. She never had anyone who loved and cared for her and tried but failed to offer what she lacked to the benefit of her children. Renee Zellweger will win the Oscar for her performance. Judy is a very good movie, 4 out of 5 stars, and is worth seeing.

Young Judy Garland

Judy near the end of her Life

Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland

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