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DVD Review: I Could Go On Singing

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I have now seen two Judy Garland movies – The Wizard of Oz and this one. As for a third, all bets are off.

I Could Go On Singing has the morbid distinction of being Judy's final film. She plays — get this — a world-famous, tough-talking yet vulnerable vocalist with a tormented personal life and an appetite for prescription medication and martinis. Quite a stretch.

Overall, this movie is a confused hybrid of a melodramatic soap opera, a London travelogue, and a "live" Judy Garland stage performance. It will probably be filed under "Musicals" at your video store, but that's not really accurate; nobody spontaneously breaks out into Wizard of Oz-style song and dance production numbers. Instead, the tunes are performed by Judy's alter-ego "character" Jenny Bowman during pseudo-live sold-out (of course) solo shows at the London Palladium. She sings a handful of oddly forgettable and unremarkable showstoppers, including the title song which features unfortunate lyrics such as these:

I could go on singing, til the cows come home
And the rooster starts to crow, crow, crow
When I see your eyes, I go all out
I must vocalize til you shout "enough already!"

I could go on singing, til the moon turns pink
Anything from Faust to Ink-a-dink-a-dink.

Not even Judy can manage to deliver this stuff convincingly, but she gives it her best shot.

The notable exception is the little-known gem of a torch song, "It Never Was You" by Kurt Weill, which certainly deserves to be heard more often. There is also some remarkable instrumental soundtrack music by Mort Lindsey (co-composer of the Jeopardy theme song), especially the zippy "Helicopter Ride" symphony and the experimental, Ives-ian "Matt's Dilemma" interlude. And you get to see Judy's son (Matt – the dilemma being he doesn't yet know he's Judy's son) performing Gilbert and Sullivan in drag, if that's the kind of thing you're into.

Otherwise, Jack Klugman, Dirk Bogarde, and the rest of the cast are merely props on Judy's stage, though the kid who plays Matt is a likeable enough chap, I guess. Dramatically, though, I Could Go On Singing is awfully cornball, overwrought stuff, and it all comes to an abrupt, unsatisfying conclusion.

It also doesn't help that the MGM DVD is a cheapo affair with no bonus features to speak of (no, the "theatrical trailer" doesn't count) and only barely adequate mono sound.

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  • Jay Taylor

    Give “Meet Me in St. Louis” a chance before writing her off.

  • http://www.myspace.com/unrainbowlievable Franky

    Although I have not watched the movie, it sounds as though you have watched a bit too few to realize what real talent is. Although ” Meet Me in St.Louis” is more popular, I believe that ” A Star is Born” ( 1954 Version ) is a great presentation of who she really is, and was, regardless of 20 minutes worth of stills..due to MGM’s foolish decisions. Btw, ” Lose that Long Face” was orignally cut out of the Release..and later reienstated. It saddens me to think that that was the fall of her career, and deeper depression, for not winning an award..but I do believe it was..

    Always Franky