|Garland sings with the school boys|
"I've held on to every bit of rubbish in life, and thrown all the good bits away."
"Alone. It's an awful word. And I know what it means."
Jenny Bowman (Judy Garland) had a child with lover David Donne (Dirk Bogarde) years before, but wouldn't give up her singing career to marry him or care for their child. Now she's a big success doing a tour in London, Donne is also a successful doctor, and their son is a charming young lad, Matt (Gregory Phillips) in boarding school. Once she meets Matt, Jenny realizes she wants the boy to be part of her life on a permanent basis, but is that the best thing for the boy and is it possible for David to forget -- and forgive -- the past? Garland's final film is clearly fashioned for her talents -- at times you get the distinct impression she's only playing a variation of herself (although playing it well) -- and she comes through with flying colors, and Bogarde is also excellent; the two play marvelously together. They get fine support from Phillips as the boy and Jack Klugman as Jenny's manager. One could quibble that this is primarily a showcase for Garland's singing talents, and that the characters and storyline could use a lot more fleshing out, but the film boasts beautiful widescreen photography and handsome production values to go with the first-rate performances. As for Garland's singing, this film probably illustrates why her fans found her legendary even when she was near the end of her life. Her performances of the title tune, "All By Myself," and especially "It Never Was You" and "Hello, Bluebird, Hello" make it clear that the gal was one hell of a gifted singer with strong interpretive skills to say the least. A very charming scene has Garland at the piano singing along with the British schoolboys, including her son, who have just given a performance of "H.M.S. Pinafore." Some of Garland's dialogue sounds like snippets from her own life. This film presents the Garland mystique far better than End of the Rainbow. This was Garland's last movie.
Verdict: A fitting filmic swan song for Judy Garland. ***.