Judy Garland’s last film role in I Could Go On Singing could easily be mistaken as fictionalized account of her own life. She stars as Jenny Bowman, a legendary singer seemingly bent on self-destruction. In London on a concert tour, she contacts David Donne (Dirk Bogarde), a man with whom she had a son, Matt (Gregory Phillips), twelve years earlier. Jenny gave up custody of her son while he was an infant and hasn’t seen him since. A busy doctor, David hasn’t seen a whole lot of their son either leaving him in the care of nannies and sending him off to boarding school.

After much pleading, David allows Jenny to see her son. Naturally, the two hit it off. However, while Matt has no idea that Jenny is his mother but he also doesn’t know that David is his real father. As it turns out, when David married, he and his wife decided to tell Matt he was adopted. It was only after learning that his wife had died, that Jenny contacted David about their son.

What was supposed to be a brief meeting is soon not enough for Jenny. She and David begin bonding and Jenny oversteps her authority, exasperating David. Eventually, Matt overhears the two arguing and learns the truth about his parents. With this, Jenny continues her world tour, hoping at each stop that Matt and David will be in the audience. Put simply, I Could Go On Singing is a straight forward character study of a woman who gave up everything for her career only to realize the price was far too high.

In one of the best scenes in the film, Jenny has a phone conversation with Matt where he chooses his father over her. Shown entirely from Jenny’s point of view, the scene is heartbreaking. Judy voice halts as she accepts the decision, but her face relays her feeling of utter sadness and disappointment.  The other exceptional moment for Garland comes during an unbroken six-minute take in which she and David finally reconcile, that’s as good a ‘dramatic love scene’ as you’ll ever see.

As one would expect, Judy brings her characteristic “pow” to several musical performances. Most notably “I’ll Go My Way by Myself” and the title song, written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, the duo who wrote “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Judy shows some real promise here as a dramatic actress, and so it’s fitting that final scene finds her belting out the title song, head thrown back, almost defiantly.

Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Twilight Time has delivered a fine film-like transfer from an MGM master. Clarity and sharpness are excellent throughout, showing of a wonderful level of detail and texture. Colors appear appropriately saturated. While blacks are a bit unstable in a few spots, shadow delineation is quite good. While I notice a couple of specks throughout, it didn’t affect the overall viewing experience at all. No DNR or edge enhancement appears to have been used.

The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mono mix offers up crisp and discernible dialogue throughout. The concert performances have surprising heft, and the music always sounds full. There is no distortion or other issues to speak of.

English SDH subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Audio Commentary by Producer Lawrence Turman and Film Historians Lem Dobbs and Nick Redman: With notable humor, Turman recalls the difficulties of working with Judy Garland, and the pleasures of working with Dirk Bogarde and Director Ronald Neame. Highly recommended, this track manages to be both informative and fun.
  • Audio Commentary by Film Historians David Del Valle and Steven Peros: The two men offer an insightful overview of Garland’s storied career and discuss the films production and reception. Another fine listen for fans of the film.
  • Isolated Score and Effects Track: Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo including Garland’s vocals.
  • Theatrical Trailers (HD, 3;47 / 3:06)
  • TV Spot (HD, :57)
  • MGM 90th Anniversary Trailer (HD, 2:06)
  • Six-Page Booklet: Contains some black and white and color stills, original poster art on the back cover, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s thoughts on the film.

There are only 3,000 copies of this Blu-ray available. Those interested in purchasing it should go to either http://www.twilighttimemovies.com or http://www.screenarchives.com to see if product is still in stock. Information about the movie can also be found via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies.

I Could Go On Singing (1963)
3.8 Reviewer