Judy Garland. That is really all that needs to be said. As an actress and performer, she’s a formative presence for many thanks to her career-making (and essential) role as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. Through a career which stretched from the 1930s until her premature death in 1969, Garland was a constant force of nature, even when her body didn’t always want her to be.
Truthfully, Garland’s work didn’t strike me in my childhood. It only took increased relevance for me into me teens and twenties as I learned to connect with the strength and resiliency engrained in her star persona.
What always strikes me about Garland is how much of a girl she is through all the vocal dynamics. Wether she’s vying to get Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) to notice her or struggling to get Don Hewes (Fred Astaire) to see her as a serious performer in Easter Parade, her sensitivity and realism shines through. She’s one of the biggest stars to grace the silver screen during the Golden Age of Hollywood, but few come off quite as grounded as she does. She’s completely and utterly relatable and this is why I love her.
A Career in Review:
If You Can Only Watch One:
There are a few good options playing during Judy Garland Day… Meet Me in St. Louis, Summer Stock and A Star is Born to name a few. I have to take a moment though to shill for The Clock. The 1945 romantic drama partners her opposite Robert Walker. Walker conveys very much a similar brand of grounded realism as Garland (with similar underlying struggles as it relates to personal demons) and the chemistry is magical. These two are truly a beautiful pairing on-screen in a feature which is endemic to the World War II era. It’s equal parts beautiful, vulnerable and powerful. Add this one to your watch list if you haven’t yet watched. The Clock airs during late night (12:15am EST).
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Podcaster, film historian, and general lover of all things classic film and television. Studying the contributions of women behind the camera in classic television.
You can find me on Twitter @kpierce624!