Thursday, October 1, 2009

Part 3...To Sir with Love..I Could Go on Singing

Judy Garland ... Jenny Bowman
Dirk Bogarde ... David Donne
Jack Klugman ... George Kogan
Gregory Phillips ... Matt
Aline MacMahon ... Ida
Pauline Jameson ... Miss Plimpton
Jeremy Burnham ... Hospital surgeon
and guests:
Russell Waters
Leon Cortez
Gerald Sim
Joey Luft ... extra on boat
Lorna Luft ... extra on boat

Produced by: Stuart Millar and Lawrence Turman
Directed by: Ronald Neame
Assistant Director: Colin Brewer
Screenplay by: Mayo Simon
Story by: Robert Dozier

Title Song: "I Could Go On Singing," Music by Harold Arlen, Lyrics by E. Y. Harburg

Music by: Mort Lindsey
Musical Supervisor: Saul Chaplin
Music Director: Mort Lindsey
Production Designer: Wilfred Shingleton
Set Decorator: John Hoesli
Miss Garland's Costumes: Edith Head
Additional Costumes: Beatrice Dawson
Makeup: Harold Fletcher
Hair Stylist: Pearl Tipaldi
Sound: Buster Ambler, Red Law
Director of Photography: Arthur Ibbetson
Filmed in Panavision, Color by Technicolor
Editor: John Shirley


This is the final installment of my three part tribute to Dirk Bogarde. Judy Garland stars in the semi-autobiographical role of Jenny Bowman, Judy Garland gives an amazingly vulnerable performance. This was her last movie. The story has Jenny reuniting with her prepubescent son, Matthew, whom Jenny surrendered to her doctor lover David (Dirk Bogarde) after the two broke up. Raised as an adopted orphan, Matthew has no idea David is his real father, or that David's "friend" Jenny is his birth mother. When David reluctantly agrees to let Jenny spend one day with Matthew, their reunion quickly gets out of hand as they bond and she longs to become a part of his life again.

She's in great vocal and physical form for the musical numbers. The songs included in the movie are:
  • I Could Go On Singing (sung by Judy Garland behind titles)
  • I Am the Monarch of the Sea (sung by Judy Garland and Boys)
  • Hello Bluebird (sung by Judy Garland in concert)
  • It Never Was You (sung by Judy Garland in concert)
  • By Myself (sung by Judy Garland in concert)
  • I Could Go On Singing (sung by Judy Garland)
When shooting began she was difficult. Her erratic behavior was not prompted by any viciousness but by a consuming fear. She was terrified of being unable to produce what was required, and her self-imposed dieting, her dependence on pills, and custody battles with Sid Luft all added to it.  After this movie, her health really declined, and by 1968 she looked like a skeleton.

Judy liked the soap-opera plot: “This big, big star goes to London to do a concert and finds the man who got away . . . It’s about me. I guess someone read my lyrics.”
Her hospital scene with Dirk Bogarde, where she talks about the life of a performer, has so much subtle shifting between emotions that it takes one's breath away. That alone should have earned her an Academy Award for this performance. I do not think that Judy is acting. These are her feelings, (not Jenny Bowman's) written into the script.

Bogarde, always an excellent actor, holds his own against the force of nature that is Garland by playing yin to her yang. He showed infinite patience, re-writing scenes for her.

It has to be said that the whole film crew spontaneously applauded the finest dramatic scene in the picture, the one that Dirk Bogarde wrote for himself and Judy. Propped up in a hospital room, Judy moved from drunken humor to defiance, to a tearful breakdown, and recovery all in one six-minute ‘take’.

Jack Klugman gives a good performance as her manager. One memoriable scene shows Judy reving herself up for her performance, and Klugman is cheering her on. Great!

It also has some very good helicopter footage of London. Judy also takes a boat trip on the Thames.


Early 60’s conservative attire. You can not go wrong with Edith Head as your costume designer. Judy has an really cute black dress with a mink in the hospital scene.


David Donne: They are waiting.
Jenny Bowman: I don't care if they're fasting, you just give them their money back and tell them to come back next fall.

Joey and Lorna Luft are extras in the Boat Scene.

Final Thoughts:

This movie is good. It has been critized for not having a lot of dialog. Dirk Bogarde is known for his stoic silence between lines. Dirk looks commanding and disapproving (especially icy in the early scenes), and the young actor playing her son manages to do it without being too cute. Neither tries to upstage Garland.

Just sit back and enjoy a travelogue of London with Judy!!! Remember, it’s not HAMLET!

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