Sunday 26 June 2022

On the centenary of Judy Garland's birth - David Hare pays tribute to a great artist

 Given June is the birth month for La Gumm, why resist any longer.

Here’s one of my favorite challenge dances from Chuck Walters’ 1950 Summer Stock, with Gene Kelly partnering Judy.


If truth be told it was Kelly, along with Walters who rescued Garland from a final all-out ban of Garland by Mayer, Metro and even Freed, after the catastrophe of Annie Get Your Gun.


To get Summer Stock moving, Kelly and Walters engaged Joe Pasternak as producer and Kelly maintained the fight to keep Judy on target to finish the picture


In a sense Kelly was, with this enormous effort, returning a favor to Judy which she had granted him a mere eight years earlier when she eased him into his first part as “Harry” in his first picture, For Me and My Gal in 1942. Great artists never forget their mentors.


Here’s another tribute


This is, I think Cole Porter’s most beautiful ballad, and it barely survived being cut from The Pirate after filming was completed in 1947.


Not only was it disliked by Mayer, after he’d also ordered the removal of the Voodoo number, but Kelly broke his ankle earlier in the week filming the Mack the Black number and would be laid up for weeks but, undaunted, Minnelli and Garland staged the number to one verse with Kelly here supine for a single take. 


In less than two minutes Garland’s range and incredible technique is in full, glorious display.


I just watched the film again, at 1 am when I couldn't sleep. Needless to say I saw the whole thing. I was amazed once again by the limpidity and sublimity of the Warner Archive Blu-ray. 


Every three strip disc of theirs that comes down the pike these days--THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX, IVANHOE, CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS--I think, "this is far better than the one before". But THE PIRATE is by far the greatest three-strip the Warner Archive has released so far, and the quality of it necessitates a complete reappraisal of the film. 


Happy 100th Dorothy.



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