Undoubtedly, the most famous Judy of the 20th Century is Judy Garland.
Not a warrior or a femme fatale, but an entertainer, a singer, a child star. In a career that spanned 45 years, she was nominated for an Emmy (3), a Grammy (5 – 2 wins and an honor), an Oscar (2 and an honor), and a Tony (1). She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – one for motion pictures and one for recording. And yet, the movie “Judy” portrays her last months of life as she struggles to earn enough money to return to her children and a small amount of her dignity.
By the time I was born, Judy Garland was past her acting career and was primarily performing stage shows. My first perception of her was “desperation” – she seemed tremulous and anxious and holding on to the last bit of hope. It was not hard to reconcile that woman to Dorothy Gale in “The Wizard of Oz” who was also tremulous and anxious (although a little more hopeful based on her youth). It was not until I saw her performances in “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “The Harvey Girls.” and “Easter Parade” that I saw the joy that Judy could project. It was enough to lead me back to Betsy Booth in the Hardy Boy movies. Although the current movie does not cover Garland’s past successes, it does make the case that she was a tremendous performer who was abused by her industry and exhausted in the end.
Renée Zellweger disappears into the character and aptly conveys her fragility. It’s a hard story to watch, but worth it to understand how Garland gave everything to her craft.