I Could Go on Singing (1963) Poster

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Judy's satisfying swansong
Oct15 July 2002
This film, Judy Garland's last, was panned at its premiere for being old-hat melodrama. The theme of secret mother love recalls "Madame X", with Garland as a Gladys George or Ruth Chatterton. Her big scene of renouncing her son over the telephone (white, naturally) recalls Luise Rainer in "The Great Ziegfeld". Aline MacMahon as Garland's acerbic confidante is like a Joan Blondell or Glenda Farrell. There is a show-must-go-on ending to gratify admirers of "42nd Street".

Garland's character, Jenny Bowman, is a thinly disguised self-portrait, down to the fluttery neurotic mannerisms (with hints of pill-popping) and the ability to turn around an audience kept waiting an hour past time for her show at the London Palladium- where Garland had sensationally headlined in 1960. After "A Star is Born" Garland, cheated of her rightful Oscar, had withdrawn to concerts and cabaret for almost a decade except for "A Child is Waiting" and her overheated cameo in "Judgement at Nuremberg". Here, for the last time, she essays full-blooded emotional acting against a worthy British opponent (for James Mason, think Dirk Bogarde) and carries it off pretty well, never becoming tiresome and often laughing at her own overwrought persona. She still looks pretty, too, not quite overwhelmed by the blowsiness of her last few years.

Bogarde, rapidly maturing after his daring role in "Victim", is a superb, challenging foil. Watch how he turns on a sixpence from the surgeon to the ex-lover after reassuring Garland that her throat is okay. His buttoned-up Britishness is never dull; like Ronald Colman, he radiates reliability and sensitivity in a coherent combination. He claimed to have rewritten all his dialogue with Garland during shooting; certainly their exchanges have a cut and thrust which prevents her from chewing the scenery. She has to react as well as posture.

The fans are given generous dollops of Garland's act in between plot scenes, but these reasonably complement and underscore the themes of defiance and sacrifice. Yes, it's soapy and lush, with daft interludes like the helicopter flight over London. But a touch of Limey stiff upper lip takes the saccharine taste away, and the Ronald Neame of "Tunes of Glory" and "The Poseidon Adventure" knows how to keep a story rolling along. File with contemporary efforts such as "The VIPs" and "The Yellow Rolls-Royce" as an enjoyable wallow, to be taken with boxes of paper handkerchiefs and chocolates.
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Judy in her last attempt at a film triumph.
mark.waltz2 February 2004
Just prior to starting her controversial TV series, Judy Garland returned to the big screen for two films: the straight drama "A Child is Waiting", and the musical drama "I Could Go on Singing". This last film could have been a personal triumph for her, and based upon her excellent performance, should have been. She sings, she emotes, she clowns, and not once does she disappoint. What turned off the critics was the old-fashioned mother love story attached to the glitz and glamour of Judy's performance.

The story tells of an American singer, Jenny Bowman who comes to London for a sold-out series of concerts. She longs to see her illegitimate son Matt (Gregory Phillips) whom she left with his father, Dr. David Donne (handsome Dirk Bogarde) years before to pursue a career. Matt, unaware of who Jenny really is, is taken under her magic spell much to David's chagrin. Jenny becomes attached to Matt and undergoes a lot of trauma as she seeks to pursue her way back into David's life in order to become Matt's mother at last.

The obvious Madame X story could be an instant turnoff for those who are sickened by sappy dramas like this, even the best ones of the 30's and 40's.

However, Judy takes this beyond possible Ross Hunter soap opera twists and turns it into a one-woman show where she gave movie audiences a chance to see what she had been doing live on stage since her MGM years ended 13 years before. The excitement builds with Jenny's manager George (a young Jack Klugman) helping to build up her excitement and the audience's enthusiastic rise to their feet when she makes her first entrance. Matt's smile as she begins to sing is one that must have crossed many a young man's face during this era, particularly the gay fan base Judy had been building up during the past 10 years. His earlier performance in drag in a production of "HMS Pinafore" could have come off as camp (especially when he introduces Judy to one of his co-stars as "One of the Pinafore's best top men"), but fortunately, his youth kept him from looking like a female impersonator.

Each of Garland's numbers are carefully staged with her outfits matching the backdrops, yet not blending in. Particularly dramatic is Garland's rendition of "By Myself", a Fred Astaire tune from "The Bandwagon". In a flaming sequined red dress (and an equally fiery mood), Garland unleashes all the passion of her performance. One solo ballad, "It Never Was You", is reminiscent of "Friendly Star" from her last MGM movie, "Summer Stock", done in a way which proves Judy could sing any type of song. "Hello, Blue Bird" is a companion tune with "Over the Rainbow", done in a subtle shade of blue, indicating that maybe Dorothy did find where those happy little blue birds fly. She sings the title song over the credits and in the rousing finale.

Dirk Bogarde gets second billing, but doesn't appear as much as the sweet looking Gregory Phillips, then 14 years old, just a few years younger than Judy's daughter Liza. Bogarde and Garland do have some great scenes together, but lack the chemistry of Garland and her previous British co-star, James Mason. Phillips' excitement in the concert scenes is most believable, and he works well with the great lady of song. Following his Broadway experience with another great entertainer, Ethel Merman in "Gypsy", Jack Klugman does well as Garland's patient agent, George; It would be almost another decade before he found lasting fame on TV as part of "The Odd Couple" and later "Quincy". In the confrontation scenes with Garland, Klugman is outstanding. The small role of Ida, Garland's wardrobe lady, is played by the wonderful stage and screen actress Aline MacMahon, a tall lanky character performer who once had the opportunity for screen stardom but preferred the more real characters she ultimately played. (See her as one of the wisecracking "Gold Diggers of 1933" as well as one of the many kind hearted characters she played during her Warner Brothers days; You will see what a lovely performer she was, and the chance to appear with Garland was an excellent way to top her career.)

It is a shame that this film came and went. It probably did very well in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, where Judy's gay audiences flocked to see it, but probably failed in smaller areas where audiences wanted to remember Judy as Dorothy and not see her as a troubled adult with a scandalous past (much like herself). Sometimes its hard to tell where Judy ends and Jenny begins, but life is not imitating art here; She is only playing several aspects of who Judy was. Yes, she could be trouble (as Dirk Bogarde would reveal about her behavior on the set), but many people (Dirk included) would admit that when she did deliver, the magic she gave was worth the trouble. Jenny comes off as a troubled woman filled with the love for her audience that Judy indeed had, and an almost unfullfillable need for love from those immediately around her. There is a pain in Judy's eyes that comes out in the character that makes you wonder if she wasn't feeling pain inside from playing part of her own life. Yet, there is a humor that shows the survivor side as well, something Judy could portray as well. Both Jenny and Judy were very complex women, and Judy's ability to play that side of her without coming off as self-parody is a performance that was more than deserving of Academy Award consideration. It is that performance which takes away some of the clichés of an old formula and makes it fresh and moving.
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Garland as Garland
MOscarbradley11 June 2006
Judy Garland is magnificent playing herself; sorry, playing Jenny Bowman, an American singer of a certain age, in London for a series of concerts at the Palladium. The movie is a mostly mediocre tale of mother love but as a showcase for Garland, both as actress and as a performer, (her scenes at the Palladium were probably as close as the movies ever came to capturing her on-stage persona), is it exhilarating and indelibly moving. By the time she gets around to her drunken 'I can't be spread so thin' speech all traces of the character have been wiped clean and it's Garland, raw and emotional, up there on the screen. She was never to make another film, which is probably just as well. With this you can say she went out on a high.

Co-star Dirk Bogarde fights a losing battle, (and he gets some terrible lines to say). He's a prissy, fussy stuffed shirt and you can never believe that he and Garland could ever have been romantically involved. There is also a wonderful turn from that great and perpetually undervalued actress Aline MacMahon as Garland's dresser-cum-secretary-cum-companion. But it's Garland's show. The panavision frame can hardly contain her.
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First-rate, overlooked adult drama. Judy Garland's finest hour.
sdiner8228 June 2001
This afternoon, TCM showed Judy Garland's last and sadly underrated film--restoring its wide-screened brilliance (letterboxed), shimmering color photography, and Ms. Garland's award-worthy portrayal of an internationally famed concert singer's stopover in London to perform at the Palladium and seek a reunion with her illegitimate teenaged son raised by his father (Dirk Bogarde). An astoundingly moving adult drama (not a bit of sentiment or bathos here) also offers the rare treat of seeing and hearing Ms. Garland perform four songs before a live audience at the Palladium: the title song, "By Myself," the haunting "It Never Was You," and, best of all, her incredibly rousing rendition of "Hello, Bluebird!" An excellent supporting cast (Bogarde proves her dramatic equal in one of his finest performances), gorgeous location photography in London, and fine, restrained direction by the woefully underrated Ronald Neame. Forget the parallels between the character played by Ms. Garland and her own tumultuous real life. This is a Grade-A production. You don't even have to be a Garland fan to be deeply moved by its emotional resonance. But Ms. Garland's aching "It Never Was You" and show-stopping "Hello, Bluebird!" are a definitive display of her timeless, unsurpassed musical artistry; and her touchingly underplayed performance remains her final (though sadly neglected) cinematic triumph.
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What an actress
capricorn92 August 2005
After watching this again last night, I realized what an actress Miss Garland was. All you have to do is watch her eyes and you are watching her soul. Everything happens through them first. There are two scenes that stand out,and both near the end of the film - 1) she is on the phone with Matt where he is telling her he can't see her. The camera is locked on her for this scene, which lasts at least 5 minutes, and it never moves until she hangs up. Sitting in bed in a shadow, with a light reflected on her eyes, you see all the pain and anguish / 2) the next to final scene in the film where David goes to get her at the hospital. Again the camera is locked on the two of them as she rips open her heart and throws her life and feelings out for everyone to see. The final kicker is when she arrives at the theatre and George finally tells her off. She stands there and takes it, then gives him a little kiss then on stage she goes. The other film one should checkout is A CHILD IS WAITING if you want to see her act, and of course NURENBURG.
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The Great Judy Goes Out With Her Head Held High
ScottAmundsen11 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Critical opinion of I COULD GO ON SINGING seems to be a consensus that it represents a sad finale to her career, but I do not see it that way at all. Because while the plot is old hat and could have been lifted right out of a cheap soap opera, the considerable talents of the cast, with Garland still in peak form leading the way, make this film greater than the sum of its parts.

Garland is Jenny Bowman, a singer whose career has always come first. Fifteen years previously, she had an affair with then-medical-student and now successful doctor David Donne (Dirk Bogarde), an affair which produced a son. Jenny, forced perhaps into a choice (it isn't quite clear in the somewhat muddled script), leaves the boy with his father, who marries another woman with whom he raises the boy, Matt (Gregory Phillips). Matt grows up believing his father's wife to be his mother; again, the reason for all these lies seems unclear.

Anyway, perhaps inevitably, after the death of David's wife, Jenny shows up in London while on a concert tour and proceeds to try to insinuate herself into her son's life. Since the kid, like most upper-middle-class English children were in those days, is in boarding school, it is easier for Jenny to go behind David's back in her quest for the affections of the boy.

In the end, the plot is almost negligible, though I do feel that the David character is a bit too much of a bastard for my taste; Jenny is clearly a self-centered woman but she isn't unreasonable or without human feelings. At times David is such a cold fish one wonders what she ever saw in him.

No, what matters in the end is Garland's performance. And what a performance it is! Jenny Bowman as written appears to have been based at least loosely on Judy, and she does not spare herself: despite her prodigious talent, this woman is not a hero; she is just an ordinary person in many ways, with an extraordinary talent that sometimes brings out the worst in her.

I COULD GO ON SINGING and A STAR IS BORN are probably the only two films Garland ever made in which the lead character was pure Judy. No doubt A STAR IS BORN is the superior film, but this one is hardly the disappointment the critics of the day seemed to think it was, and especially when Garland is onstage, a bit overweight but the voice still intact, the magic is still there and quite irresistible.
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A Closing Symmetry
bkoganbing7 March 2009
Though she didn't and couldn't have known it, I Could Go On Singing became Judy Garland's farewell to the big screen. In this role she's perfectly cast in a role that bears a lot of resemblance to the real Judy Garland, a famous singer with problems of custody who wants the son she gave up for adoption years ago.

Some twenty years before young medical student Dirk Bogarde, studying in America fell in love with singer Judy Garland just starting her career. That career is something she wanted more than him. But one thing couldn't be changed and that was the boy child Bogarde left with her.

Bogarde marries a girl from Great Britain and later on Judy who can't manage a baby and a career gives him up to Bogarde who adopts his own son with his wife and raises him. Now his wife is dead and Judy's back to lay a claim on her son played by Gregory Phillips.

Of course Bogarde has never told his son about his origin and therein lies the story. It's the kind of tale we've seen in hundreds of films and radio and television soap operas.

But of course what makes I Could Go On Singing special is the singing of Judy Garland. Giving this film which title could serve as her epitaph is Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg who wrote the title song and who wrote her famous Over The Rainbow.

Judy also sings By Myself which was sung and danced to by Fred Astaire in The Bandwagon. But a song I'm really glad she did was the Kurt Weill-Maxwell Anderson song It Never Was You. That song comes from the score of Knickerbocker Holiday and it didn't make the screen version. I'm glad that Judy Garland used it in this film, giving it the classiest interpretation possible.

A passable enough drama, but great singing and the best epitaph possible for a career which was one of the brightest.
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Fine Film Legacy . . .
leslieadams14 December 2004
. . . to a great artist: Judy Garland. At the end of her fabulous, unparalleled career, Garland made this swansong. Under-appreciated at the time of its release, it now grows in stature, like fine wine aging.

Medical experts warned Judy would never sing again in the early fifties before she made the astonishing "A Star is Born." Then she went on to her historic national concert tours, and fifteen years after "Star" she made "I Could Go on Singing."

Defying all predictions about her career, Garland triumphed. True, it wasn't easy, for her or her fellow actors and crew. Somehow, though, she just kept bouncing back, overcoming the most formidable obstacles.

Here she's supported by an excellent cast headed by Dirk Bogard in a very strong performance. Ronald Neame's direction is on-target, though the script is a bit uneven. Yet the film is looking better and better, and viewers are growing in their appreciation of this legacy of one of the 20th century's most talented and beloved artists.
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Excellent film; remarkable child actor
vincentlynch-moonoi19 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The reviewer Judith Crist wrote of this film: "Either you are or you aren't - a Judy Garland fan ... And if you aren't, forget about her new movie, 'I Could Go On Singing', and leave the discussion to us devotees. You'll see her in close-up...in beautiful, glowing Technicolor and striking staging in a vibrant, vital performance that gets to the essence of her mystique as a superb entertainer. Miss Garland is - as always - real, the voice throbbing, the eyes aglow, the delicate features yielding to the demands of the years - the legs still long and lovely. Certainly the role of a top-rank singer beset by the loneliness and emotional hungers of her personal life is not an alien one to her..." In some ways I agree with Ms. Crist. In other ways, I do not.

I'm not a Judy Garland fan...at least not a fan of the grown up Judy Garland, but I did enjoy this film and I thought it was a good performance. Although, her fragility -- it seemed to me -- showed through in the more emotional scenes of the film. And, there were a number of scenes where I thought she looked rather beaten down.

Yes, the Technicolor photography was excellent, and the settings chosen superb! Nevertheless, Judy Garland's performance here was excellent, although I thought her character was not a very admirable person who had no sense of what motherhood is and whose primary motivations were selfish.

I continue to be impressed with an actor whom I've only recently come to appreciate -- Dirk Bogarde. He's excellent here as the father.

Jack Klugman...oh, so so as the agent.

I was most impressed with the young actor playing the son -- Gregory Phillips. A superb performance.

And it was a treat to see the superb character actress of years earlier -- Aline MacMahon -- in her next to last film performance, here as Garland's assistant.

In terms of plot, Bogarde and Garland were once lovers, and she had a son. She gave him up...totally...to pursue her career. Now, about 15 years later, she wants him back. The film does an excellent job of showing what parents can put their children through.

A good film. Very worth watching.
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Judy can - and will always - GO ON SINGING!!
GordJackson10 October 2013
As others have noted, the story itself is certainly not top draw. A soap-operatic mishmash about a driven show biz mom, prim and proper stiff upper lip Brit doc and an illegitimate teenage son into whose life driven mom wants to re insinuate herself, well it's all right out everybody's favourite soap (spoof) As The Stomach Churns. Happily however, the whole enterprise is almost fully redeemed by the brilliant performances of Judy Garland, Dirk Bogarde, Gregory Phillips, Jack Klugman and Aline MacMahon. If you're a Judy Garland fan (and I am) you'll overlook the quill and parchment foolishness and wallow instead in the great songs and near flawless acting.

Certainly, as others have also noted, there are threads of Judy Garland's life woven into this uneven tapestry, but one standout reason for watching this film, for those who never got to see Judy live, is to get a sense of the enormous power, indeed charisma the lady projected from the stage. I saw her in person twice with that first show being near the end of her 'Carnegie Hall' tour. With Mort Lindsay conducting thirty or more musicians out came 4' 11" 'Joltin' Judy' for what she once described as "two hours of POW!"


No dancing chorus boys!

No backup comedy acts!

It wasn't just a concert - it wasn't an event - it was a HAPPENING - exactly as the concert sequences in this film imply.

It's a shame other characters in the story weren't more fully fleshed out, and certainly it is highly regrettable that Judy Garland was such an underrated actress. It is equally shameful that she didn't cop an Oscar nomination for her performance or indeed that I COULD GO ON SINGING was her cinematic swan song. But we do have what she left us in movies, her television series and her glorious recordings, most especially those great Capitol Records titles like MISS SHOW BUSINESS, JUDY, ALONE, JUDY IN LOVE, THE LETTER, JUDY! THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT and of course JUDY GARLAND AT CARNEGIE HALL. Under brilliant producer Voyle Gilmor she got to work with the best musicians and orchestrater's in the business, people who knew exactly how to showcase her unique vocal talents, names like Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins, Jack Marshall and the aforementioned Mort Lindsay among others. Indeed, it is why, along with film titles like A STAR IS BORN and I COULD GO ON SINGING that I unhesitatingly say Judy Garland will always GO ON SINGING!!
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Sadly, Judy's last film
blanche-227 November 2010
1963's "I Could Go On Singing" would prove to be Judy Garland's final film, and what a shame.

Here, Garland plays Jenny Bowman, a famous performer who comes to London with a manager (Jack Klugman) and an assistant (Aline McMahon) to do concerts and goes to see an ex-beau, Dr. David Donne (Dirk Bogarde) with a faux medical problem. He knows she has an ulterior motive. The two of them had broken up, but later, Jenny gave birth to their son. The newlywed David and his wife adopted the child because Jenny couldn't really handle carrying for a new baby and having a career. Matt never knew and believed that both David and his wife were his adopted parents. Jenny claims that now that David's wife is dead, she just wants to see her son (Gregory Phillips). Once she sees him, she wants to spend time with him - it spirals out of control.

Despite its soapy plot, "I Could Go ON Singing" manages to be very effective for two reasons: Judy Garland and Dirk Bogarde, both of whom lift this film up from the maudlin. Bogarde is an uncredited writer on this film, contributing a lot of Garland's dialogue, as the script needed work before she could take the role; he often participated in screen writing on his films.

Garland plays her role as a brilliant talent who is a needy woman, but one who also is used to getting her way and knows what she wants. Despite an outer fragility, she knows how to stand up for herself. As an entertainer, she is second to none - magical, warm, exciting, passionate, and fun. Garland sings the title song plus "By Myself," "It Never Was You", and "Hello, Blue Bird," all beautifully performed. Garland looks petite and wonderful as well.

During the scene in the hospital, in which David comes to see Jenny after she sprains her actor, the director, Ronald Neame, realized as the camera was rolling that the scene had passed out of the movie and into real life. Garland was no longer Jenny but Garland. There was an incredibly intense atmosphere in the room, so instead of yelling cut, doing another take, and repositioning the camera, he let the scene go on. Normally a scene like that would take all day to film. Bogarde realized that Neame wasn't going to stop and even altered his dialogue to respond to her. The result is an incredibly moving, very personal scene.

Bogarde gives a low-key performance and is perfect opposite Garland, very British, attempting to keep his emotions even -- a very generous actor who was also helpful to Neame in keeping Garland going. There were a great many difficulties on the set, including an incident where a plate of food went flying through the air as Judy demanded director Henry Hathaway. In the end, they all made it through, and the result is successful.

We have lots of examples on the screen and in recording of Judy Garland's tremendous talent and brilliance. "I Could Go On Singing" is a look at a character very close to Garland and gives a good sense of the real woman. Art imitates life, or did life imitate art - with Garland, one never knows.
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An under-appreciated Gem of a performance
kmcchat10 October 2004
Although the plot seems old and somewhat predictable, the performance that Judy Garland gives is nothing short of amazing. According to books and articles written about her, portions of the story of Jenny Bowman seem to be an almost autobiographical account of Judy's own conflicted personal and professional life at that time. It's the best opportunity for audiences to see the "live" performance documented on film of a true legend. I Could Go On Singing includes incredible songs, some prerecorded and some performed and captured live on film. All of them leave audiences wondering how she could have gone on singing! ("By Myself" is enjoyably exhausting to watch!!!) As far as I am concerned, anyone whoever questions Judy's acting ability must not have seen this movie or understood it's ironic treasures. The emergency room scene in I Could Go on Singing is the setting for one of Judy's most magical moments on film. Whether this was entirely scripted, ad-libbed or a hybrid of both.... Judy Garland and Dirk Bogarde give performances (in ONE TAKE yet) that any actor would kill to be able to perform. Although often thought of as sappy, melodramatic fare, I've come to appreciate "I Could Go On Singing" as the punctuation mark of a truly remarkable movie career.
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The sensational Miss Garland shines again
didi-516 July 1999
Judy's last film ranks among her greatest as she lurches along as Jenny Bowman, grasping, insecure, and in life pretty much washed up. Echoes of Miss Garland's tragic real life cloud this film in places but that only serves to make it more effective. The three songs are superb and I only wish there had been more. Dirk Bogarde gives good support in a performance which by necessity is in the shadow of the tempestuous star. Seems better every viewing and highly recommended for Judy fans.
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Classic late Garland
Spuzzlightyear23 February 2006
To be honest, I am not REALLY a Judy Garland fanatic, even though I ought to be. I found her TV show extremely entertaining when I saw them on DVD, and, well, how can one NOT be entertained by the Wizard Of Oz? And I've seen snippets of her here and there. I begin this review of 'I Could Go On Singing' saying this and defending my uh, un-Judy Garland obsessiveness, and then say that I found this movie incredibly entertaining! It's as if they got her to play herself during the last portion of her life, what, being a total singing diva, and let the audience go home happy. In this movie, she plays a famous singer who meets up with an old flame (played low-key to the hilt by Dirk Bogarde) to try to meet up with her son who she abandoned long ago, soon after meeting, she wants to keep him! But Bogarde says no! Oh no! What is she to do? Yes, that's pretty much the plot. But who cares when you get to see La Judy in action, singing, bitching and chewing everyone up and spitting everyone out? This is nothing but fun, and well, not Kramer Vs. Kramer. I really would recommend this to anyone, because this could entertain anyone, Judy fan or not (I tell you I'm not!!!!)
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The way to leave the stage
jjnxn-126 March 2012
It's Judy's show all the way even if to paraphrase one of her most famous numbers she been through the mill. Surely not looking her best, although here and there she manages to look at least chic, she is still wonderfully compelling.

One of the more interesting aspects of her performance is her entrance preparation before her first musical number where it seems we see a glimpse of the real Judy. The story itself is as old as the hills but it's filled with exceptional talent, Aline MacMahon as a loyal companion, Jack Klugman as Judy's manager and Dirk Borgarde as the stuffy, conflicted but ultimately kind hearted love interest. There is an beautiful performance of "It Never Was You" done in one long slow approach take and even though the final number and title tune isn't the best song she's ever sung Judy punches it across with breathtaking flair making it a fitting close to a storied career. She leaves the cinematic stage with arms thrown outward, feet firmly planted, singing to the heavens just as it should have been.

Interesting side notes to look for are the unbilled appearances of Judy's kids, Lorna and Joey Luft, in background of the ferry sequence and an aerial view of 60's London. By all accounts a horror show to make this is still an enjoyable experience particularly if you're a Judy fan.
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a good film.
ptb-823 February 2008
I had never seen this film until tonight (Feb 2008) and have never been a Judy Garland 'fan', even though I am aware of her life and genuinely admire and champion films like THE PIRATE and A STAR IS BORN; so it came as quite a surprise to me to see this 1962 Brit production in Cinemascope get quite bad reviews and be regarded as 'not a success'. In fact the Variety review of the time is particularly mean spirited. I thought Garland was excellent and natural, the production values while a bit cheap offer great stage scenes and Dirk Bogarde plays a believable past lover. It is rare to see adult Garland play opposite a teenage boy as she does in this strong film and those scenes are particularly moving. I COULD GO ON SINGING is a very satisfying film, and the British setting, the Palladium scenes and the teen drama well achieved and resolved. It is very disappointing to see the bad reviews or the carping when this film is clearly well intentioned, particularly to Garland's career in 1962. No wonder it was her last film, she probable felt kicked in the teeth again like in 1954 after A STAR IS BORN. As a 'formal drama' in a British style, it fits and succeeds. I guess if you also like STAR! and the theatrical movies of this type you will admire this film, as I do. In 2008 this film is quite a time capsule of era production and Garland, and for that we should be grateful.
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Judy Garland's last film
dbuckley3-113 May 2007
I think considering the pressure she was under at the time she did a marvellous job as the character of Jenny Bowman and great performances from her co stars as well. Great views of 1960's London although I think the woman in the helicopter was a double a I've read she was afraid of flying but I think she combated this towards the end of her life. The numbers performed at the palladium were outstanding and her acting (especially in the hospital ward with Dirk Bogarde) towards the end of the film were outstanding. She went on to appear in her own television series after this with many guests she'd appeared with at MGM years before. This would have been her penultimate film if she'd appeared in 'Valley Of The Dolls' in 1967, let's be thankful she didn't.
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All By Her Self.
judyis4me125417 September 2005
As a Garland Collector and major fan, it is unfair to say that this film has no comparison. Every time I see it, something new, or different sticks out. I have seen all of her films, each at least fifty times, and I can say with out regret, that this is the film that is closest to my heart. Once you see this, her performance will linger on in your mind. My favorite scene, is not the most dramatic or witty, but heartfelt. It is near the end, and several lines seem to make me think, and feel more than any other. She basically says that if he(David) says that he loves her and doesn't mean it, she will die. and the other, no secret, written or formulated by Judy herself. "Do you think you can make me sing? You can get me there but can you make me sing?... I sing for my own pleasure... I sing when I want to, how ever I want to." This film, strangely seems to reflect pieces of Her own life, as did A star Is born. You see her cry on the screen, and those are real tears, she doesn't blink, she doesn't miss a beat. Being an actor myself, I have great respect for the written word, and with this I feel an even greater respect or the portrayal of those words.
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Surprisingly pleasing
verna-a24 March 2012
Caught this on daytime TV one day and found it surprisingly engrossing. The plot line could be corny, but instead it is a touching and believable story. The principals are excellent - Judy Garland is not my favourite performer but she is very likable here, and Dirk Bogarde presents with his usual charm a role which could easily be unsympathetic. The young man who plays the part of the son is fresh and appealing, providing an excellent foil to the two seasoned professionals who play his parents. The Englishness of the settings comes across strongly but is not overdone. The script is low key but interest never flags. I don't find the vocal numbers particularly appealing - Garland's mature voice is rather smoky, but she delivers with all the seasoned arts of a veteran. Touch of weirdness - Garland's hair! Whoever coiffed her for this movie should be run out of town. Over-teased and over-sprayed, it is somehow dishevelled also, and strangely one-sided at times. Not flattering!
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Overlooked dramatic musical is a triumph for Garland and Bogarde...
Doylenf26 October 2002
Judy Garland and Dirk Bogarde provide proof in I COULD GO ON SINGING that they could match each other for sheer power and intensity as far as their performing skills go. Although the film is obviously meant to capitalize on Garland's legend as a temperamental actress/singer with a devoted following, it is Dirk Bogarde's finest hour too. He never once fails to come to grips with what is sometimes an unsympathetic portrayal of a man caught up in a desperate love/hate relationship with a woman who bore his illegitimate teen-age son--and now has designs on getting him back. That's the plot, in a nutshell, and if it weren't for the power of the Bogarde/Garland performances--and some genuinely nice supporting work from Jack Klugman, Aline MacMahon and the boy (Gregory Phillips)--it all might have added up to a hill of beans.

Credit goes to a sincere, straightforward screenplay with some tart dialogue for Judy that sounds as if it came from her own true life experiences. Indeed, there are backstage stories that Judy and Dirk worked on the screenplay to tighten the emotional force of the drama and punch up the lines a bit--and if so, they have succeeded brilliantly.

Not only entertaining as a dramatic showcase for Miss Garland, it is also highly recommended for the musical interludes during which she performs at the London Palladium in great arrangements of material like "Hello, Bluebird!", "By Myself" and "I Could Go On Singing", among other melodies, all in full control of her "vibrato in search of a voice" equipment.

As a swansong for the actress, it is incredibly moving and a tribute to both Garland and Bogarde. Bogarde is especially intense in his emotional scenes--reminding me somewhat of the brooding character he played so well in LIBEL (a courtroom drama with Olivia de Havilland). He had become a mature actor by that time and here he is even more impressive.
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Please explain the ending to me
eliz721227 October 2002
I loved this film. I saw it on cable last night and I had never seen it before. My father was a big Judy Garland fan. I went to see her at Forest Hills concert when I was 14 with my parents. Of course at that age, I was in to Rock and roll but she was terrific anyway. My question is as follows: The end of this picture has Dirk Bogarde telling her he really loves her and she tells him. Do you really mean it? I mean if you don't mean it, I'll die" And then he says, Yes, I really mean it! He goes on to explain that they fell in love at the wrong time, etc. etc. What the hell is he saying to her. Are they going to wind up together. Is he marrying her? Will she be able to raise her child with him? They left you hanging. Maybe I missed something but all she did was go on stage and sing the last song and then it said "The End" Please tell me how this movie really ended. E-mail me at ELIZ7212@aol.com. Thanks, Melody
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It relies solely on Judy's nervous showmanship...and is probably better than it has any right to be
moonspinner552 March 2005
Judy Garland as Jenny Bowman, international singing star who tours England and meets up with "the man who got away" (prissy-lipped Dirk Bogarde) and the child they share, whom she left behind years ago for fame and the floodlights. Director Ronald Neame thankfully steers clear of sticky melodrama and gets right down to business, and Garland, who is occasionally quite raw and real, delivers one of her better third-act performances. Clichéd and heavy-handed though it may, "I Could Go On Singing" is nevertheless an intriguing soaper, though the tangled emotions at the finale are not quite resolved. Neame seems to think Garland's singing alone can put the finishing touches on any scenario! **1/2 from ****
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Judy Garland's swan song
TheLittleSongbird16 February 2017
Saw 'I Could Go On Singing' as a big lifelong Judy Garland fan (since seeing 'The Wizard of Oz' for the first time at 6 years old) and to see everything that she has done.

Have always her an amazingly gifted singer with a beautiful voice and near-unsurpassable emotional connection to everything she sings and she to me was a good actress (especially in 'A Star is Born', 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'The Clock', though have really liked/loved her in everything seen of hers and have found a lot to admire for everything seen in films she stars or features in).

'I Could Go On Singing' is her last film and her swansong, and while Garland does not disappoint by any stretch of the imagination (she is the reason for seeing the film) she did deserve a better final film. 'I Could Go On Singing' is far from bad certainly and has a good deal to admire, but considering the potential and how great its strengths are it is a shame that it wasn't any better.

Due to Garland's illnesses, the film was finished in a hurry and it does show at times in some rushed-looking production values. Pacing is 'I Could Go On Singing's' biggest issue, with some all too obvious padding especially in the interminably self-indulgent "London travelogue" shots used to make up for when Garland was unavailable to film, those parts especially looked scrappy and should have been cut. The script is uneven, some of it genuinely moving and charming others (and too frequently) daft and melodramatically soapy, especially Dirk Bogarde's.

However, 'I Could Go On Singing' is mostly attractively photographed and the London Palladium stage gives an appealing sense of nostalgia. The music and songs are wonderful, especially the powerfully staged and performed "By Myself", the equally heartfelt "It Never Was You" and the rousing "Hello Bluebird".

In terms of standout scenes, the hospital waiting room scene, done in a single take, is particularly fine. It is a painfully honest and heart-breakingly honest scene and one of the greatest examples of improvisational acting on film personally seen, up there with the egg breaking scene in 1962's 'Cape Fear'. Ronald Neame directs admirably and there is enough that is powerful, entertaining and poignant.

Garland is the best asset other than the music, she is simply sensational and while it may not be her best performance it's to me one of them. She is especially good in the songs and in the hospital waiting room scene where the real her comes out in her character and it is startling in how real it feels and looks. Dirk Bogarde is very good as well, as are Jack Klugman, Aline McMahon and a sympathetic Gregory Phillips.

All in all, a good film with a significantly greater lead performance. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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Judy Garland Out on a High Note
wes-connors13 July 2011
While playing the London Palladium, popular torch singer Judy Garland (as Jenny Bowman) sees doctor Dirk Bogarde (as David Donne) for a sore throat, but she really wants to visit the child they conceived during a New York love affair. Married to her career, Ms. Garland agreed it was best to let Mr. Bogarde legally adopt their son with another woman, since deceased. Presently, teenage Gregory Phillips (as Matt) is studying at Canterbury; he thinks Bogarde is his adopted father and has no clue Garland may be his mother. This sounds like an implausible soap opera entanglement, but you go along as the story unfolds...

Father finally relents, and brings Garland to meet their son. The mother and child reunion goes so well, they become inseparable, unbeknownst to Bogarde. There is, of course, some conflict to resolve. This was the second of two final feature films for Garland, though she continued to be taped and filmed in many fine appearances before burning out in 1969. Both this and "A Child Is Waiting" take into consideration Garland's emotional state; here and there, her rough edges become part of the characterization. With the exception of the frighteningly reddened rendition of "By Myself", her musical abilities are presented well.

Bogarde is a great co-starring choice; he reportedly brought out the best in Judy. Jack Klugman (as George) and Aline MacMahon (as Ida) lend sturdy support. Key to the film's success is the marvelous performance by young Phillips, who keeps the story moving and believable under arguably difficult circumstances. He and Garland have great chemistry, and she has some superb dramatic scenes. Nevertheless, there would be no more feature films for Garland. Her behavior on the set could be described by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: "When she was good, she was very good indeed, but when she was bad she was horrid."

******** I Could Go on Singing (3/7/63) Ronald Neame ~ Judy Garland, Dirk Bogarde, Gregory Phillips, Jack Klugman
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Judy's Swansong
michduncg-111 July 2006
As melodramas of the time go, this is a an entertaining piece. The scenes of London, like those of 'Alfie', are full of an exciting, rebuilt city, about to start to swing. New skyscrapers, helicopters and jet airliners to me add a great excitement to the background of the film.

And with a cast like this film had, it cannot fail to entrance you further. But when you realise that this is Judy Garland in her last film role, playing a person who is obviously very similar to her, then it becomes fascinating. I am not a big Judy Garland fan, but I found myself captivated by this film. The addition of Dirk Bogarde and others was the icing on the cake!
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