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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

June 19, 2009 at 9:31 AM

Judy Garland: She made us love her

For some reason, I’ve had Judy Garland on the mind lately. Maybe it’s because “Up” so winningly brought back memories of “The Wizard of Oz,” with its flying house and its yearning for home. Maybe it’s because of the news, earlier this spring, that Anne Hathaway would play Garland in an upcoming movie and stage production, based on the Gerald Clarke biography of Garland, “Get Happy.” Maybe it’s because this month marks both Garland’s birth (in 1922) and her death (in 1969), and maybe because, when a great performer dies in her forties, you can’t help but wonder what the future might have held.
If Garland had, in her entire career, done nothing but but her sweet, melancholy rendition of “Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz,” we’d still remember her. But, despite her well-documented personal troubles, there was much more to her screen legacy, both before and after Dorothy. Here’s one of my favorite Garland moments, from “Broadway Melody of 1938.” Garland, then a young teen still a few years away from Oz, sings “You Made Me Love You” to a scrapbook filled with photos of Clark Gable, and interrupts the song for a starstruck monologue that’s a perfect encapsulation of an innocent teen crush. Note the maturity of her singing voice — that elegant droopiness of her low tones was already there, at 15 — and how it contrasts to her round-cheeked, innocent persona. Gable was reportedly moved to tears when he saw first her perform the song; you just might be too. Here’s to you, Judy.

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