Review and Recap of Judy: Beyond the Rainbow

This is yet another documentary that I repeatedly watched and re-watched on YouTube. The A&E (from the days before they aired Duck Dynasty and before they completely abandoned their original purpose, but I digress) documentary from 1997, as a part of their Biography series, tells the story of the incomparable singer and actress, Judy Garland. The documentary is told through narration, archive photos and footage, and interviews from numerous people who knew Garland.

Judy: Beyond the Rainbow focuses Garland’s life from shortly before her birth, to her death.

It begins with Garland’s upbringing in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and focuses on her beginnings of stardom.  Her family moved to California when she was four, and she began performing publicly with her two older sisters.

Garland eventually auditioned with MGM at the age of 12, and she captivated the studio with her singing voice, which was much, much, much, much more mature than would be expected for a girl her age.

MGM struggled to figure out what to do with Garland because she was too old to be a child star, but too young to be an adult performer.  At a height of four feet and eleven-and-a-half inches, she was did not have the look of other tall, slender actresses at MGM, such as Lana Turner.  She was a “girl next door.”

Eventually, Garland was cast in her signature role, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.  This film included her signature song “Over the Rainbow” which she would sing for the rest of her life.

Throughour the 1940s Garland became a big star; she also got married to Vincente Minnelli, and had her first child, Liza Minnelli, but there were lots of problems in her professional life.  Her dependency on drugs made it more and more difficult to keep up with the demands that MGM made of her.  She was fired from three films, and left MGM.

Despite this, she found renewed success on stage including, most notably on the Palace on Broadway.

Garland married again to Sid Luft, who, as her manager, was a big part in her success singing on stage.  They later had two children, Lorna and Joey Luft

Garland and Luft tried to make a comeback with the film A Star Is Born for Warner Bros., but the production was troubled.  Despite this, the film was very good and premiered to universally positive reviews.  Then Warner Bros. decided to cut about 30 minutes from the film, which caused outrage.  The film failed to make a profit, but Garland was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.  She was expected to win.  Since she had recently given birth, a camera crew was set up in her room to broadcast her acceptance speech.  However, Grace Kelly won for her role in The Country Girl.  The crew immediately packed up their equipment and left, without saying another word.

Through the rest of the 1950s, Garland performed on stage and on TV.  In the early 1960s she had her own show on CBS, The Judy Garland Show, but it lasted for only one season.

In 1969, Garland married her fifth husband, Mickey Deans in London, and they lived in the Chelsea neighborhood.  On June 22, 1969, Deans found Garland dead on the bathroom floor.  This ended the life of an incomparable singer, actress, and entertainer.

The documentary is one of my favorites because of the subject.  Garland was very talented.  But her talent was equally matched by the troubles of her life.  It was easy to see the triumphs and struggles of Garland’s life, and this was helped by the numerous amounts of archival footage, narration, and interviews with several the actors, musicians, and filmmakers that worked with Garland.  I really recommend this documentary to fans of Garland and fans of classic cinema.

 

 

 

Eulogy for Judy Garland

This blog post was originally written for a speech class.  We had to write a speech for a person, either famous or non-famous, alive or dead.  Today is the 46th anniversary of her untimely death.


Ellis Sutton

04/06/2015

Eulogy


Today, we reflect upon and say goodbye to a woman of immense talent, and who has captivated countless numbers of people around the world.  In her signature song, she sang about looking to a life beyond your own reality.  While her achievements were just as great as her struggles, what’s most important is the good parts of her life.  That woman is Judy Garland.

Like most icons, Judy Garland had humble beginnings.  She was born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota 1922 to father Frank Gumm, and mother Ethel Gumm, and she was named after the both of them: Frances Ethel Gumm.  She had two older sisters:Mary Jane Gumm and Dorothy Virginia Gumm.

Judy was a star from almost the very beginning; at the age of two-and-a-half, she made her first public performance, singing “Jingle Bells.” (Shipman, 1993, p. 12).  In 1926, the family moved to California, where Ethel began working very hard to make her three daughters stars.  The trio began performing publicly as the Gumm Sisters.  Eventually their name was changed to the Garland Sisters, but Judy who was nicknamed Baby, due to being the youngest, wished to create a more distinguished identity for herself, and adopted the name, Judy.

Hard work paid off, and Judy secured a contract with MGM in 1935.  However, things would not be happy forever.  Judy’s father died that same year, leaving her devastated.

Over the next few years, Judy worked long hours on films, and then things went up from there when she received her most iconic role: Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz which was release in 1939.  This film along with the song “Over the Rainbow” touched many people with its message of the importance of creating a better life for oneself.

For the next decade, Judy was a big star, but the long hours and other personal struggles made things difficult.  There were some good parts.  She married Vincente Minnelli who directed her in Meet Me in St. Louis, and they had a daughter named Liza.  This marriage would end, but Judy moved on with her life.

In 1950, Judy left MGM, finding their demands to be too much to bear; nonetheless, she started a new chapter with her life when Sid Luft arranged for her to begin performing on stage the following year.  These performances were hugely successful.  Judy performed at the Palace in New York City, for over twenty weeks, and she received special Tony Award.  Judy and Sid would get married in 1952 and they had daughter Lorna and son Joe.

In 1954, Judy attempted a comeback in films with A Star is Born, she was acclaimed for her performance, and got nominated for an Academy Award.

Judy would make other endeavors as an entertainer.  She had her own television show, The Judy Garland Show from 1963-1964.  She also released a popular concert album Judy At Carnegie Hall.

I will leave you with this: Judy Garland struggled with life.  But she has left a legacy that will be remembered and treasured for all time.

References

 

Judy Garland. (2015). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 01:51, Apr 06, 2015, from http://www.biography.com/people/judy-garland-9306838.

 

Shipman, D. (1993). Judy Garland: The secret life of an American legend. New York: Hyperion.

 

TV Tropes Tuesday: TV Tropes: Missing Episode

This entry on TV Tropes is known as Missing Episode.  Given the site’s roots as discussing the narrative devices of TV, it’s obvious why this trope is called what it is.  However, as TV Tropes evolved to cover all media, this trope naturally was expanded to give all examples of media.

Missing Episode refers to the phenomena of an episode of a TV, or for that matter any work that is no longer publicly available.  There are a variety of reason why an episode might be missing.  One example could be that the content is considered offensive, such as due to racial insensitivity, violence, sexual content, and so on.  Another could be an episode that seems insensitive following a tragedy such as a natural disaster, mass shooting, or the like.  Others have to do with legal issues; the most common legal issue is TV shows that license music for the original run, and being unable to license it for reruns or home media distribution, and not releasing it in any form because changing or removing the music would ruin the episode.  Another reason is that the episode does not exist anymore.

To expand on that last point, many films from the beginning of cinema are lost forever.  Martin Scorcese’s Film Foundation, an organization devoted to film preservation, estimates that over 90% of films from the silent and early sound eras are lost.  Even some of the the most popular actors of the time have most or all of their filmographies lost. The reasons are diverse.  First of all, many studios assumed that the film lost value after their theatrical runs ended.  In a world before theatrical reissues, TV broadcasts, and home media, few to no people assumed people would decades later, let alone the follow year, would want to see them; therefore, studios would simply discard or destroy the films, especially if they lacked the money to store them.  Not only that, films were shot on film stock made of nitrate, which was flammable and fragile and would disintigrate or catch fire if they were not properly stored; it didn’t help that studios would intentionally destroy the films to take financial advantage of the silver therein.  Another reason is that many early sound films used a sound-on-disc system.  If the discs became lost or damages, the films would be considered worthless and discarded.

However, some films even if they did survive, are lost in their original forms.  Often scenes would be cut out before original release or before reissues, and discarded and/or destroyed.

My favorite movie Fantasia is lost in its original form.  It was originally released as a roadshow engagement at the length of 124 minutes.  After the financial failure of that released, it was rereleased in standard theaters recut to 81 minutes, removing the Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor segment, and all of the introductions by Deems Taylor.  Later releases restored the Tocatta, but Taylor’s introductions were kept to a minimum.  In 2000, for the film’s 60th anniversary, All of Taylor’s interstitials were restored, but audio tracks were damaged beyond use; voice actor Corey Burton was hired to redub Taylor’s dialogue.

A Star is Born (1954) is partially lost.   It had a test screening at a runtime of 196 minutes.  It was cut down to 181 minutes for the premiere.  However, theaters complained about the length, saying it would limit showing, and therefore, profits.  As a result, Warner Bros. cut the film to 154 minutes.  Director George Cukor and star Judy Garland were outraged.  Cukor refused to see the film again, saying that it hurt to watch the recut version.  Garland claimed that the fact that several crucial scenes were cut, lead to her losing the Oscar for Best Actress.   Ironically, this attempt to increase profitability lead to the film losing money.   In 1981, a restoration proved partially successful, extending the length to 176 minutes, and replacing lost scenes that couldn’t be found with photos of the scenes being shot, to give an idea of what they would have looked like.

Many American soap opera episodes are lost, as the owners of them did not preserve them.  It was not until the middle of the 1970s, that they began preserving the episodes.  The exceptions are Dark Shadows, which has only one lost episode, and Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless, which have preserved all of their episodes before it was common to do so.

Many talks show and game show episodes are lost because the tapes were reused, due to videotape being very expensive.  This practice ended in the late 1970s.

The BBC is famous for discarding many of their programs.  This practice is known as wiping.  It was not until 1978, that they developed a policy of preserving all their material.  The reasons were varied, but included issues such as cost, making room for new programs, and deals with talent unions to limit or forbid reruns from talent unions on the rationale that reruns might put them out of business.  The most famous examples of this policy is Doctor Who.  Many early episodes are lost forever, but occasionally, lost episodes did turn up.

With regard to anime, many episodes are missing often because of content reasons, that are offensive to Western sensibilities or deemed inappropriate for children.  One anime series is, however, lost in its original form because of of changes made when it was imported for dubbing in America.  That would be Astro Boy.  Adter NBC recut the episodes, they offered to send the original film elements back the rights holders in Japan; the studio, however, refused to accept them because of financial issues, and they told NBC to do whatever it is that they do with film elements that they can’t or don’t want to keep.  NBC discarded them, and now all versions of the show are made from NBC’s version.

I even have a lost film of my own.  In 1999, me, my brother, my sister, and my father created a short film called The Giant Pikachu.  I lost the VHS tape is was saved on.

TV Tropes: Troubled Production

Today, I will talk more about TV Tropes.  Specifically I will discuss an entry on their site called Troubled Production.  This refers to a production that is troubled.  As is common in such film shoots, things can go wrong.  Cast and crew can get sick.  Weather can disrupt filming.  Props can malfunction.  Films can fall behind schedule.

I had issues of my own when I shot my first film for my digital filmmaking class last semester.

First, I had trouble finding actresses.  Then I had trouble finding a location.

When I finally had those two things, I had trouble with with availability and weather.

My cousin who played one of the roles, had to cancel on the originally scheduled filming date because she had a school assignment to work on.  Two days later, we planned shoot but then there was a huge storm that affected much of the state of Illinois.  My cousin had returned home early from getting her hair done because of the weather, and when she returned to get her hair done, she had to cancel because she could not guarantee when she would be finished.  Finally, we rescheduled filming for two days later.  My cousin arrived at my college to film, and we  got to work.  Then I realized that I made a mistake.  I did not turn the microphone on the camera and I had no sound.  Luckily, my other actress, who was a classmate in my filmmaking class told us that the dialogue could be rerecorded and then I could re-sync it when editing it on the computer.

When time came to edit, however, I still had issues because I did not have much time to work on it; I could only edit it at school since only at school did I have access to Macs with Final Cut Pro, or any type of good film-editing software.  I tried to finish the editing on the day of the screening of all of our films, but I could not.  First, the computer on which I saved the files was used by another student (the classmate who appeared in my short film as the mother and aunt) and when I had time, I struggled with re-syncing the audio and realized that I had to do it line-by-line.  I ended sending my professor an incomplete version that was missing audio in two of the three scenes.  He did not show it at the screening because he could not download the file in time.  I was relieved because in my mind, I was scared of him showing it and being humiliated by it; even if it had been complete, I would have not been in the room while it was being shown because I feel it was a sloppy job, and I am committed to doing better next time.  It was my first film, after all, and not many people’s early works are their best, anyway.

Later on the last day of the semester, I finally had the time to finish the editing of the video and audio, and I submitted the project to my professor.  The people who saw it like it, though I really don’t.  But, I value the whole experience, and I can’t wait to do it again.

Of course, I am an amateur, and professionals often have even bigger issues when things go wrong.

TV Tropes has many examples, but one noteworthy one they don’t mention is the film Something’s Got to Give, directed by George Cukor and starring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin for 20th Century Fox.  The troubles were so bad, that they indirectly caused the film to be abandoned.

First, on the day that filming was to begin, April 23, 1962, Monroe didn’t show up because of a sinus infection.  Cukor changed the shooting schedule to work around her since waiting for her recovery would have delaying the entire film for a month, had she followed a doctor’s orders.

Throughout the next couple of months, Monroe was frequently absent because of various health problems.  On May 19, she was scheduled to perform for President Kennedy at his birthday party; no one thought she would keep that commitment, but she did, and that was yet another iconic moment in her life.

In early June, shortly after Monroe’s birthday, she missed yet another day of filming because of a fever.  Cukor and Fox were fed up, and the studio fired her.

However, Dean Martin, was contractually given the right to approve his leading lady.  He refused to do the film without Monroe.  Fox agreed to rehire her, but compromises were made on both sides.  Monroe had to do two films for Fox including Something’s Got to Give, and Monroe insisted that Cukor be replaces as director; Fox also offered more money than she originally was offered.

However, in August of 1962, Monroe was found dead in her home.  The movie was shelved, but later it was overhauled and filmed as Move Over, Darling with Doris Day and James Garner as the leads and released in December 1963.

According to Wikipedia: “In April 1963, Fox released the 83-minute documentary Marilyn which included brief clips from the screen-tests and unfinished film showing Monroe. This was the only footage from the film seen by the public until the hour-long 1990 documentary Marilyn: Something’s Got To Give, which used extensive excerpts from the footage…Nine hours of largely unseen footage from the film remained in the vaults at 20th Century Fox until 1999, when it was digitally restored by Prometheus Entertainment and assembled into a 37-minute segment for the two-hour documentary, Marilyn: The Final Days. It first aired on American Movie Classics on June 1, 2001, which would have been Monroe’s 75th birthday.[5][6] It is available on DVD.”

Another noteworthy case is that of Judy Garland.  Her drug addictions contributed to her being fired from several films and having trouble with others.

First, she suffered a breakdown while filming The Pirate and she was committed, but finished the film.  Later, while filming The Barkleys of Broadway, in 1948 migraine headaches, and the use of morphine and sleeping  led to her missing several filming days; she was fired from the film after doctors said she was only healthy enough to shoot for 4-5 days at a time with extended rest periods in between ans was replaced by Ginger Rogers.  She was, a year later, cast in the film version of Annie Get Your Gun, but Garland suffered with insecurity with the role and did not like director Busby Berkeley’s treatment towards her on set; as a result she was frequently tardy, and failed to show up.  Eventually, she was fired from the film and replaced by Betty Hutton.   Later, she appeared in Summer Stock,  and she missed the “Heavenly Music” number; she did not show up the day it was filmed, and therefore, it was shot without her.  She took a break from the film for two months and returned to shoot the famous “Get Happy” number; as a piece of trivia, Garland lost weight in the interim, and as a result there is the myth that it was originally filmed for a different film because she was noticeably thinner than in the rest of the film.  Finally she was cast in Royal Wedding, replacing June Allyson who dropped out of the film after becoming pregnant; however once again, frequent absences led to her being fired from the film, replaced (by Jane Powell) and she was released from her MGM contract in 1950.  Seventeen years later, Garland was cast as Helen Lawson in Valley of the Dolls.  She was unreliable on the set, missing several rehearsals, and was fired and replaced by Susan Hayward.  Her wardrobe tests and her recording of the song “I’ll Plant My Own Tree” survived.