Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #6 (From TWO JUDY GARLAND FILMS)

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I grew up with the movies featured today and have had them nearly memorized for years. I loved what Prof. Ament had to say about Judy playing the piano in For Me and My Gal--and I didn't know she wasn't a trained dancer! Wow! That makes "Ballin' A Jack" even more impressive! This title number has just the right energy, it's one of those perfect pieces of musical moviedom. It has never gotten old or seemed anything other than electric!

Easter Parade has also been a personal favorite for a long time. I'm from Michigan, and Irving Berlin's "I Want To Go Back To Michigan" is practically my anthem.  I periodically lead student trips to India, and on the last trip as we walked through the gate and onto the 13 hour plane ride home I started singing it out loud. I got several compliments--I think more on the sentiment than my singing!!

 

I Want To Go Back To Michigan

 

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The Wizard of  Oz was the first Judy Garland film I recall watching. I was young when I first saw it so I wanted to be her. I wanted to go on those adventures.

2.As an adult, I have always had a great respect for Judy Garland's talent and always felt that she left too soon. Having read the notes about For Me and My Gal makes me appreciate her talent even more because I thought she was playing the piano in that scene. 

3. I liked Easter Parade and Summer Stock. "I love a Piano" and "Get Happy" are good examples of her ability to capture the audience's imagination as a storyteller when she sings a lyric.

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4 hours ago, Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament said:

 

The first Judy Garland film I ever saw was The Wizard of Oz.  It was a family tradition to watch it together on network television once a year.  Garland was everything I wanted to be.  I have seen all but one of her movies and each time I see one, I am more impressed with her remarkable abilities.  I loved her performance in In the Good Old Summertime ; she totally captured the emotions and showed them both facially and musically as she sang.  The subtle nuances in her vocal quality is remarkable.  While not a musical, her small, dramatic performance in Judgement at Nuremburg has always fascinated me.  Her acting was superb.

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Like most other people, my first Judy Garland film was  The Wizard of Oz. To this day, I can not imagine anyone else being Dorothy. You can feel the wonder that Dorothy experiences in trying to find happiness in Kansas, that grows as she travels through Oz and knows that she truly belongs back on the farm.

In watching her performances in the two clips, I am struck by the fact that she commands the screen over both Astaire and Kelly. She is more than able keep up with the dance steps AND continue to react to the song lyrics.

As to her later performances, I like a Star is Born. She shows such strength and caring for Norman's weaknesses that your heart breaks along with hers. Curiously, I remember reading that in real life, she was falling apart emotionally while filming this movie, which makes it even more bittersweet to watch.

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I so enjoyed our professors' discussion on Meet Me In St. Louis, one of my all-time favorite films. I never could understand why that film always reduced me to tears, but after watching the lecture, I think it was the pure emotion in the film. My family moved across the country when I was a kid, and I don't think I ever really got over it- losing my friends, special childhood places that became almost mythic in memory, etc., so seeing the love  within this family and a father who decides NOT to move is touching.  "Honesty" is the word used in our lecture, and that nails it. Judy and this film radiate honest sentiment without being treacly.  And when the world sometimes seems hard and tragic, as it must have seemed to wartime audiences and often seems to me, the richness of the mise-en-scene and sumptuous color is wonderful escapism.  

I love the time capsule aspect of this film as well. Made in 1944, there must have been people working on the film who remembered first-hand how life was in 1903. This made exquisite detail like the turning out the gas lights, boiling homemade ketchup, and the magnificent excitement of the World's Fair. I know you don't have to live through an era to recreate it, but there is such detail in the activities of the characters that I feel some must have been drawn from writers' lived experiences.  It's fascinating just to see the Halloween traditions of the past, when kids were quite destructive and there were no princess costumes! 

The Harvey Girls is another great time capsule of Americana which I find fascinating, and I was thrilled to stay at El Tovar at the Grand Canyon, the only remaining Harvey Hotel. I think this film is quite boldly feminist for its time, and that might reflect the attitude of many 1946, post-war women who were not content to go back to being "only" homemakers once the men had returned from war. Judy was delightfully plucky and adventurous in Harvey Girls, really the center of everything and I can't imagine anyone else in that role.   

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Yes, my first encounter with Garland was in The Wizard of Oz. My second was Meet Me in St. Louis. In both of those films she is in that liminal stage between child and adult.  She is sweet, innocent and imminently likable.  

Watching her in these clips made me realize her talent in breaking out of that teen star image.  There is still a sweetness and likability to her, but there is also a maturity. She is convincing as an adult.

I don't know many other Garland films that would allow me to comment on question three, but I want to draw a parallel between Garland and so many teen stars that I watched on Nickelodeon with my children.  Many of the stars from Drake and Josh, iCarly, Sam and Kat, etc. were never able to project anything beyond their youthful teenage characters on film or TV. They were only able to perform as those tweens and teens.  This lesson has shown me that Garland was able to be both the wonderful teen star and then mature beyond those roles.

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  1. The first Judy Garland film I recalled watching was "The Wizard of Oz". My first impression was that she was sweet and innocent.
  2. After I viewed those clips, I view her as someone who is mature and has extraordinary talent.
  3. Some films that show her increasing ability to capture an audience's imagination as a storyteller when she sings a lyric are "The Harvey Girls" and "Meet Me in St. Louis".

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Of course, my first film was Wizard of Oz. Actually all I remember of that viewing was being terrified of the big head of “Oz the Great and Terrible.”  Of course, I’ve seen the film several more times, but mostly I just saw Garland as a teenager stuffed into a little girl dress and preferred her companions.

After seeing these clips, I can see the talent that everyone acclaims. And of course, that makes her long decline even sadder. What a voice and what charm!

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The first Judy Garland movie I remember watching was "The Wizard of Oz" and I do remember being enamored with her, especially during the 'Over the Rainbow' sequence. It was the first time I remember as a child being riveted by what I saw on the screen.

I have seen "Easter Parade" many times in the past. It has the incredible pairing of Garland and Astaire, so what's not to love!? I hadn't seen "For Me and My Gal" until it aired today on TCM, and oh what another great pairing! How could I have never seen Gene Kelly's first film and paired with Judy Garland on top of that!? After watching both of these clips, I am ever more conscious of how Judy Garland was able to do IT ALL. She excelled in every role she undertook and seemingly did it with ease. She always appears to be in complete control, but while also not stealing the spotlight. I become ever more enamored with her the more I see her.

A later film that stands out to me as demonstrating how in control of the screen and audience Judy was is "In The Good Old Summertime" from 1949. When I first saw that film I remember thinking I wasn't going to like it because a favorite picture of mine is "The Shop Around the Corner" from 1940. I heard "In The Good Old Summertime" was a remake and had very little interest, because how could they possibly improve upon what was already a masterpiece? However, when I finally sat down and watched it Judy's performance in this movie was so convincing that even though it is a remake, it doesn't feel like it. Her performance of the song 'I Don't Care' in this film remains one of the greatest musical sequences I have ever seen in a movie, and really shows the depth and growth of her abilities as a performer when compared to her earlier performances. She was always great, but she just continued to get better and better. She was already a natural, but like a sponge she soaked up all the knowledge given to her over the years and just continued to improve without losing any of her early and natural charm and ability.

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When the lights go on....

I just wanted to add that the ending of Meet Me In St. Louis, when the lights all go on as they did at the Palace of Electricity in 1904- just wow!  Thinking of the year 1944, America fighting on 2 fronts, the message is clear:  there IS a light at the end of the tunnel, so chin up.  There are bright happy days ahead and all will be well. 

 

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1. What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your first impression of her?

This is going to sound cliche but of course it was The Wizard of Oz. A must see and share for every child. My mother made sure I got an early start. I wanted to be her and help her as Dorothy. Her innocence when singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow made me believe in the possibilities of a happy, magical place. Later I would go on to watch every one of her movies.

2. How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously?

She grew into a beautiful songstress and quite the hoofer! She didn't do much dancing in the Wizard of Oz but her dancing is on par with some of the greats in her later movies. In fact, I believe Gene Kelly is stated as saying she was one of his favorite dance partners. And her acting, which always took a back seat to her beautiful voice, is impeccable. In movies like The Clock, A Star is Born, or Judgement at Nuremberg you see just how brilliant an actress she could be.

3. What films in her later career come to mind as examples of her increasing ability to capture an audience’s imagination as a storyteller when she sings a lyric?

I always think about her performances in A Star is Born and I could Go On Singing as some of her finest and heart-wrenching pieces. The Born in a Trunk song is such a powerful piece and is sung with such conviction because it was Judy. Same goes with I could Go On Singing. Even the animated film Gay Puree, when she sings Little Drops Of Rains you feel for the character even if it is an animated cat lol.

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What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your first impression of her?

I was a kid - The Wizard of Oz. She was spunky and brave and stood up to witches. I wanted to go on her journey with her. She was totally sympathetic. I was drawn into the story and it was very real to me. I understood all of her emotions. I cried and laughed with her. When she ran away from home I felt her conflicted feelings.  I don’t think that Shirley Temple would have had that effect - too pretentious. Judy was the person that took that movie from cute to real.

 

How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously?

She is in adult/romantic situations. Her ability to convey real emotions has matured. She understands the importance of the facial expression. And those eyes - you always watch them. She reacts to the lyrics, the room , the dialogue, her partner in a way that is very relatable. There is a lot of communication there.

 

What films in her later career come to mind as examples of her increasing ability to capture an audience’s imagination as a storyteller when she sings a lyric?

Meet Me In St Louis (In the middle here between these pics) - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - that’s a no brainer. We all choke up on that number.

 

Get Happy - Summer Stock. This song is joyous. Here is a woman dealing with all of her demons, and yet she transports us with this pseudo-gospel number.

 

The Man That Got Away  - A Star Is Born - powerful. Great dynamic trip.

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1.What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your impression of her?

I'm not certain, but it may have been The Wizard of Oz. It was either that or Meet Me in St. Louis. I loved her voice. I was in elementary school at the time and wanted to sing like her. I think I was drawn to her because of the movie as well as her performance.

2. How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously?

It is even more obvious to me that there was more to her than just a pretty voice. She had the ability to shine no matter what she was doing, but she didn't hog the spotlight. She was a real team player, sharing the scene with her costar in a way that was just natural. I think it is a testimony to her acting ability that she could do these things she wasn't necessarily great at in a way that looked easy and fun. When you look back in retrospect at all of the challenges she faced personally in her life, to see her do these things is even more impressive.

3. What films in her later career come to mind as examples of her increasing ability to capture an audience's imagination as a storyteller when she sings a lyric?

I'm not as familiar with her later films (will be watching A Star as Born this week) but recall  In the Good Old Summertime as another film of hers that I enjoyed.

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The only Judy Garland film I have watched is The Wizard of Oz and my impression of Judy Garland was that she was a talented singer. After watching the two clips, my impression of her was that she related to the people she worked with and she did a great job on the piano in the second clip and I also thought she was a godo dancer and how she followed Gene Kelly’s steps perfectly. I haven’t seen any of her other films, but I will get to as I go along.

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  1. What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your first impression of her?

The Wizard of Oz. First impression is of that strong voice! What an amazing talent she had and she was only 16-17 when she made this movie. 

  1. How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously?

I don't view her that much differently, only that she was much more versatile than perhaps we give her credit for. She wasn't only a singer/dancer, but a very accomplished actress. I'll never forget her dramatic performance in Judgement at Nuremberg...

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Daily Dose #6

  • What was the first Judy Garland film you recall watching? What was your impression oher? The first (or the best of Miss Garland’s performances) is in “The Clock”. It is a sweet, romantic melodrama directed by Vincent Minnelli. She co-starred along with Robert Walker. A story about soldiers who have to serve their country as well as endure the loyal love of their families and loved ones. Well, Judy doesn’t sing in it, but this film shows that she could make the audience sway with emotions.            https://media.giphy.com/media/12TRFOmorFeJiM/giphy.mp4                                                                      

 

  •  How do you view her differently after viewing these clips than you might have viewed her previously? After viewing these wonderful clips, I just couldn’t stop loving her cinematic presence. She could sing, dance and act. What more could I ask for? She is the Legend!                                                                                        

 

  • What films in her later career come to mind as examples of her increasing ability to capture an audience's imagination as a storyteller when she sings a lyric? The film which struck me a lot was the “Summer Stock”. In this film, she sings a song called “Friendly Star”. This song was a sheer reminiscence to one of her most famous songs ever: “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. The song is alluring to listen and it takes the audience back to a time where they have never seen such a wonderful place. 

    Here is the link to the song:https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=n5WRmTFmaJw&t=16s
     
     

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1. My first impression of Judy was, like many people, from watching The Wizard of Oz multiple times as a child. It was my only real, sustained exposure to Judy's work for a very long time, and the biggest takeaway from her performance in that film was that she was someone who exuded such a rare earnestness and vulnerability in every line she spoke and every line she sang. She was 1000% in her feelings at all times; her voice always sounding like she was on the verge of tears at any given moment. It's an honesty and purity that draws you right in and allows you to trust her completely as she compels you to see the story on screen through her eyes.

2. In watching these two clips it's a big departure from her more intensely emotive performances, and it's a delight to see her purely at play. There's no overarching problem to solve or journey to take or new thing to discover. Her ability to just be in the moment and not care at all what she looks like, while simultaneously being so prepared for anything her scene partner throws her way is delightful (Hi, I'm Judy, let's look like I totally know how to play piano even though I don't, but I'm SO committed to making this realistic that I'm going to practice like hell so that it is!).

3. The example that stands out for me the most is her performance of "The Man That Got Away" in A Star is Born. To be able to take a song that, in anyone else's hands, could come across as super-cliché and heavy-handed in performance (I mean, the entire thing is just one line of borderline corny metaphor after another, strung together), and still manage to completely draw you in and just go along with her is a feat and a half. Her performance is without a shred of irony - it's Dorothy 2.0, with the same mixture of wistfulness and dreamy optimism - and knowing that, by this time, many of her real-life, off-screen struggles are public, there's no doubt that it's coming from a very visceral and honest place, and yet it still has that incredible polish of a (pardon my French) g.d. professional who's been singing all of her feelings almost her whole life. It's a sight to behold.

IMG_2810.JPG

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I specifically remember The Wizard of Oz as the first film, but the first film other than that one that made an impression on me was In the Good Old Summertime.   It was with this film that I saw the range of talent, the subtle humor expressed, the depth of emotion that could be shown by Judy Garland in even a rather simple role.   I have seen all 36 films (several times over) and I will say that my absolute favorite is The Clock, for many reasons as I like Meet Me in St. Louis -- I am drawn from frame one into the film and get lost in the slice of life goings on of a wartime romance and what happens to two innocent people, how they react to their situation and obstacles thrust upon them, and the sort of naive innocence that both Judy and Robert Walker bring to their situations in The Clock.   In any of the first films I viewed, I was, of course, struck (bowled over, perhaps) by the singing and dancing and acting talent; but I remember thinking (and saying to my grandmother, who watched all of these movies with me usually) that it seemed impossible to believe she didn't find herself beautiful!  She really was a lovely looking woman and for any era, but especially the 30's and 40's and 50's was seemingly what was popular and considered good looking:  great legs, beautiful eyes, slim....baffling how she and others didn't recognize this physical beauty was right there in front of them!  

With every scene, every film viewed, any viewer is taken with just how talented Judy was with any offhand remark for humor, and how in command she was of her talents, how she seemed to know just what was right for her...others can only help augment an original talent; that talented person has to know if it's right or wrong, if a line seems natural when spoken, if a song needs a lot of verve or just a quiet, restrained physical performance.     She remains a teacher to us all as we watch and re-watch her performances and marvel at and learn from her art.

Later musical films like Summer Stock strike me as excellent examples of good songs made superior by her lyrical approach to performance; her rendition of Friendly Star, to me, is one of the best things she did -- the viewer cries when she pleads for the friendly star to "light my way, lead me to my lover."  

 

   

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Probably like most, my first Judy Garland exposure was The Wizard of Oz.  I was however-many-but-it-was-no-doubt-a-single-digit years old, so I really didn't get an impression that stuck with me.  I guess I just thought she was acting, singing (lip-syncing?)...as I got older and started understanding things, it came to me how good she was in that film and the others I would later discover.  Probably my favorite example of this is The Harvey Girls, a musical I never even had heard of until the early part of last decade when I worked in a video retail store.  Retail, not rental.  DVDs had only just started, everything was still VHS back then, and a lot of films would come in and out of circulation for one reason or another.  This made a lot of classic films hard to find, or not findable at all.  The Harvey Girls was one of them.  One very nice older gentleman would come in every now and then and check on a special order VHS of that film.  Our company warehouse didn't have it at all, and I don't even think it was in our system, but we dealt with an outside vendor for those hard-to-find titles, and his was available through them.  Finally after about 8 months, we got our weekly delivery from that vendor and there it was, brand spanking new, a copy of The Harvey Girls.  Needless to say, the customer was thrilled.  Years later, thanks to TCM, I got the chance to see it.  Wonderful stuff, and one of my favorite Best Original Song Oscar winners contained within it as Judy Garland puts everything she has into "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe".  She sang, danced, moved and acted/emoted her way through that like a master, and that's the moment where I realized just how uniquely talented Judy Garland was.  Today's clips only further prove that too.

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I saw Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” for the first time, in 1939.  I fell in love with her then and love her to this day.   I still watch “Wizard” and enjoy it as much as the first time I saw it.   Judy Garland could out sing and out dance the best of them.   Unfortunately we lost her all too soon, thanks to M-G-M.   I will watch any movie TCM shows if Judy Garland’s name is in the cast list.   She went from ‘the Andy Hardy’ series, to the ‘backyard musicals’, then into the ‘war years’ and beyond.   She proved herself as a serious actress in movies like “Judgement at Nuremberg” and “A Child is Waiting”, and not just a “song and dance gal”.

” The Wizard of Oz” would not be the classic it is today if Shirley Temple had been free to be Dorothy.   Judy Garland is universally loved and her voice is unmistakable to this day.

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The Wizard of Oz is definitely the first Judy Garland movie I remember seeing, but old movies were a fixture around my house, and my mother taught me to appreciate female vocalists, so I suppose those old Andy Hardy movies might have been in my early consciousness, as well.  What I'm appreciating about today's material is organizing all my impressions of Judy into a coherent biography of her movie achievements. Thinking about the mature Judy takes me to her TV show and her immense popularity in the gay community as an icon of Camp, so for me, she defines that kind of big, show-tune performer. What these clips focus on is her immense talent as an actress and dancer, as well as singer, and that's good to remember. 

I confess that I would have appreciated some class commentary on The Pirate. It's a film I've never cared for much -- too goofy a costume drama, not much drawn to the Gene Kelly character, can't remember a single song from it. As the last film on the list of Judy's films for this week, it doesn't seem like a very impressive culminating point. I will try to sit through the film again for this class, but my thought is always -- Judy, it's time to move on from the MGM musical, you're done now. Can anybody enlighten me here?

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1 - The Wizard of Oz, but I knew Judy before watching the movie, I knew she was a talented girl and one day I was dreaming she was a ballerina(very funny, I know), so I watch this film to know her once more, today I love her greatly.

2 - In my point of view, in first clip beyond sing and dance, Judy makes a comic performance along with Fred, we see they're costumes with grease and all, in the second clip, she just dances and sings with Gene Kelly.

3 - I love when she sings Get Happy in Summer Stock.

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The first Judy Garland film I saw was Meet Me in St. Louis. So I saw her as a young woman who was already becoming a romantic interest. I didn't see many of her earlier films where she is a teenager with Mikey Rooney.  The next movie I saw was Harvey Girls. I believe it's the "On the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe" where she did it in one take. I was in awe with her talent of signing, dancing and moving the scene along. It was later that I saw Wizard of Oz funny enough it's not one of my favorites. After you brining to attention the fact that she didn't play piano I was awed by the talent to do all of that acting in one scene. I mean fake play piano, read music, flirt with Gene Kelly and sign beautifully. Amazing! 

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The first time I saw Judy perform was in "The Wizard of Oz."  I was a young child when this movie was first put on TV (on Sunday nights) during the Easter season.  I watched it every year.  I believed Judy was Dorothy and will never change my view.  Her voice, her pathos, the acting, and the larger than life talent will always cement my view of Judy.  The performer's performer.  

I own all of the Judy Garland Show DVDs that came out out hiding in the late 1990s.  Both "trunk" sets.  I've watched all the shows numerous times.  This is where I really learned to appreciate Miss Garland's talents.  Judy had a wonderful sense of humor and as mentioned, so generous with other artists.   Unfortunately, the powers at CBS had no respect for these shows and it went through various formats in the short time it was on the air.  It was no help that her competition on NBC was the very popular "Bonanza."  Almost every ending of her show had Judy stand besides a trunk and sing her heart out.  I always discover something new in every viewing.  This is where I fell in love with Judy.  

A Star is Born is one of my all time favorite Judy films.  I love the "Born in a Trunk" sequence.  Not enough words to describe Judy's talents and appeal.  

I miss Judy and wish she was still alive...but as said, we will always have her treasure trove of work.  

 

judy1.jpg

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I have to preface this by saying that a person couldn't have chosen two better clips to showcase Judy Garland in a musical - unless, perhaps, one draws from The Wizard of Oz, which everyone has already seen.  These two numbers fill me with equal delight and joy.

1) I was a kid in the 80s and as many will recall, in those days The Wizard of Oz seemed to come on once per year, sort of like how The Ten Commandments could be counted on to be shown every Easter.  (Not sure if that's still the case.)  If you didn't have a VCR (we didn't!) it was your one chance each year to immerse yourself in this wonderful world that was familiar and foreign at the same time.  I thought she was adorable.  Who wouldn't?  There is a tremendous innocence and vulnerability to so many of Judy's roles, and that is on full display when she plays Dorothy.  

2) As a big fan of Astaire and Kelly, I have seen both of these clips innumerable times over the past 14-15 years, so it's hard for me to go back in my mind to what I remember of Judy before then.  I don't think she seems all that different in these two clips from what she was as Dorothy, necessarily.  In the scene with Gene Kelly, she is still somewhat of an ingenue, even if she is playing a seasoned small town circuit performer.  If I get a bit more meta, though, and step outside the film into real life, it's clear that she's the real pro here when we compare her with Kelly's relative rawness.  Her acting is more natural and unaffected.  She helped him a great deal with how to perform for screen as opposed to stage, but we still see some elements of the stage in the relative broadness of much of Kelly's acting here.  (Some would say he never fully abandoned this broader acting style...ahem.)  Thankfully, they had a wonderfully warm and friendly chemistry that informed all the films they did together, and it's effervescent here.

In the Easter Parade clip, we know that she is dancing with a much older man who has been trying to mold her into something he can work with.  It's still hard for me to see her as a mature figure within the role, but her gift for comedy is brought to the forefront.  It takes a mature performer to don male drag and black a tooth like this and still be impossibly darling.  I love her mugging here, and how adorable she and Fred are together as they interpret this gem from Irving Berlin.  Gene Kelly is reported to have said how much he regretted not being able to play the Hewes character in this film - and it was this number in particular that really hit home to him what he had lost when he broke his ankle playing volleyball.  As much as I like him, I'm glad that Fred ultimately played this role - it's a wonderful film and it feels just right with him in it.

3) I confess I have never really sat down to watch any of Judy Garland's work post 1950 or so.  I've seen clips.  But I honestly don't think one has to go all the way to A Star is Born to find her emotionally connecting to a song and captivating her audience by telling a story with it.  The number "Friendly Star" from Summer Stock comes to mind as one where she just about breaks your heart if you let her.
 

 

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