Posted by: ritagone | January 15, 2020

Come On! Get Happy!

I watched the bio-pic movie “Judy” the other day.

It’s based on the life of Judy Garland.

It’s terribly depressing and very sad.

Don’t watch it unless you have something bright and cheery in your life to make you smile once you’ve finished with the movie, or you will be despondent for hours afterward.

I knew from past reading that Louis B. Mayer, part of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer name for MGM Studios back in the heyday of the big studio moguls, was not a nice man, to say the least.  He would have made the Weinsteins and Epsteins look like Boy Scouts, most likely.  But the abuse he handed out to teenaged Judy Garland was criminal: ordering her “handlers” to deprive her of food to keep her slim for the cameras, feeding her pills to allow her to sleep, pills to wake her up, which created her life-long addictions, keeping her from normal social interactions with her peers.  Because he saw her star power, that was all that mattered to him, and apparently her family, especially her star-struck mother, agreed totally with him.  How betrayed would a young girl feel if she knew in her soul that her mother wasn’t coming to her rescue at all?

Five marriages couldn’t rescue her.  The pills and alcohol didn’t help and eventually led to her early death at 47 from an overdose.  A tale heard all too often, but sad, sad, sad each time we hear it nevertheless.  And her talent so prodigious, that voice, those soulful eyes, made it all seem an even more tangible waste, because so many people around the world had attached themselves to her emotionally.

In the movie version of the part of her life beginning her descent to the end, Judy is in London doing a series of “Talk of the Town” live shows, but she is erratic and unprepared, and those who are working with her are frustrated and/or concerned almost all the time, if not always for her, certainly for themselves and their own jobs and positions which depend on her dependability.

Coming to the concerts regularly were a gay couple (and this is during an era in which gay couples were not particularly “out,” so they came inconspicuously together) who had been great fans of Judy Garland’s for many years.  They maintained that she and her music had gotten them through some rough patches in prior years, including a prison term for one of them for being caught as homosexual.   They meet Judy backstage, adoring and oblivious at first to the fact that she is in dire straits and lonely and alone.

They wind up bringing her to their flat to feed her, an honor which blows their minds!  The Great Judy Garland is in their apartment, is eating at their table, is talking to them!!  In reality, though, she is so happy to have someone to talk to, to share an evening with, that she is the one more blessed.  She sits at their tiny piano and begins to play and sing.  Now the look on their faces is beyond belief.  Judy Garland – the legend – is singing to them!!  The camera captures their astonishment, their joy, as if they could just die happily right at that moment.  She has made them happier than they could ever have expected or thought of.

And they have no idea that she would have gone back to an empty hotel room, alone, sad, depressed, so they had done something for her that was temporarily life-giving.

That scene in the movie, more than any other, captured for me the sadness of this person, Judy Garland, born Frances Gumm, beleaguered, abused emotionally and physically, mistreated, and yet held in high esteem, almost worshiped even to this day, by millions of fans and devotees around the world.  Looking for love in all the wrong places, as the cliché goes.

Her story is not unusual in show business, unfortunately, but the movie “Judy” and Renee Zellweger’s performance really made the reality it of come home to me.  I had a nice little stack of tissues beside me as the film ended.  And I just sat there; couldn’t move.

That’s my movie review: four tissues and temporary paralysis and emotional upheaval.



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