I Could Go on Singing #FilmReview #BriFri
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Last week, I shared the breaking news about Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation. Heather shared something intriguingly called Downton Shabby, but I couldn’t access it when I was compiling this post on Thursday. I’ll try again tomorrow and update the information here. Tina celebrated Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday by sharing her memories.
I celebrated Judy Garland’s 100th birthday last month (June 10) by watching her final film, one that I hadn’t seen before.
In I Could Go On Singing, Garland plays Jenny Bowman. an American singer on a world tour. During her London stop, she reconnects with an old love, David Donne, a successful Ears, Nose, and Throat doctor. We learn quite quickly that they had a son together. She gave up the son to Donne so that she could continue her career.
Jenny Bowman wants to see her son, in spite of the promise that she made many years ago that she would absent herself from his life forever. In that English tradition that seems odd to Americans, Matt is in boarding school. According to IMDB, the school scenes were filmed at the Canterbury Cathedral.
I enjoyed seeing a story about the sacrifices that artists make in the service to their art and how those decisions might be revisited later in life.
I Could Go On Singing was released in 1963, well after Judy Garland’s very public split with MGM in 1950 due to problems on the set of Summer Stock and Royal Wedding (she was replaced by Jane Powell in Royal Wedding).
This felt like a brave performance for Judy Garland. By the time that this film was made, the problems in her personal and work life were well known by the public. Garland drew on her own life to play a performer who causes difficulties for herself and others when she expresses a desire that is incompatible with the plans that have already been put into place.
This isn’t a musical in the sense that people break into song spontaneously, but there are plenty of opportunities for Judy Garland to sing as Jenny Bowman. She goofs off with the boys at the school in a fun rendition of “I Am the Monarch of the Sea” from Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore. Besides the title song, we also hear:
- “Hello, Bluebird”
- “It Never Was You”
- “By Myself”
That last one was one of my favorite break-up songs when I was in my late teens and twenties.
Besides the Canterbury Cathedral scenes, British Isles Friday participants will appreciate the many scenes shot around London — especially the helicopter fly-over of the city before the iconic skyscrapers were built.
This film hasn’t been picked up by the streaming services (which seems a missed opportunity for her 100th birthday), but I was able to get a DVD from one of our local libraries.
Have you seen this film? What did you think?
I’ve not seen this film and I didn’t know about her son at all. It was my good fortune to visit Canterbury cathedral and it was magnificent. Many years ago though!