9 Essential Judy Garland Films
Singer, actress and icon Judy Garland tragically passed away at the far-too-young age of 47, almost 50 years ago on June 22, 1969.
She's still best known as wide-eyed Kansas girl Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz," but don't miss these other films that showcased her incredible talent and under-appreciated dramatic range.
We can't recreate the magic of seeing Judy in concert (she was the first woman to win a Grammy Award for Album of the Year for her live album "Judy at Carnegie Hall"), but she's immortal, thanks to these films.
9. "Judgment at Nuremberg " (1961)
Garland received her second Oscar nomination for this dramatic role in Stanley Kramer's film about the real-life trial of Nazi war criminals. On the stand, she is relentlessly interrogated by the imperious German defense attorney (Maximilian Schell, who won a Best Actor Oscar for the role) over her relationship with a Jewish man, which was forbidden under Nazi rule. It's a brief but heartbreaking performance as she breaks down under his cruel treatment.
8. "Babes in Arms " (1939)
Judy and Mickey Rooney made several movies together, but this one, in which they play the children of vaudeville performers, is the classic "let's put on a show" plot we associate with this winning duo. The tunes include "Good Morning" (the same song featured in "Singin' in the Rain") and the title track. But maybe skip the unfortunate blackface scene?
7. "The Pirate " (1948)
Judy and Gene Kelly team up in this terrific (but lesser-known) musical set on a Caribbean island. She plays Manuela, who is unhappily engaged to the unattractive and much older mayor. Kelly is a traveling performer who overhears her obsession with the dreaded pirate Macoco and passes himself off as the very same to win her heart. Surely this inspired "The Princess Bride," at least a little? The sword-dancing pirate fantasy production number is A+.
6. "Summer Stock" (1950)
Worth your watch just for Judy's stunning, iconic "Get Happy" number. The film, also about (surprise, surprise) putting on a show, memorably re-teams her with the legendary Gene Kelly.
5. "The Harvey Girls" (1946)
Judy goes out west, becomes a Harvey Girl waitress, sings "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," goes up against mean "dance hall girl" Angela Lansbury and finds true love in this charming musical.
4. "The Clock" (1945)
Judy shines in her first dramatic role as a woman who falls for a soldier (Robert Walker) who's on a 48-hour leave in New York City. Made before the war came to an end, its already poignant story is deepened in retrospect by the early deaths of both stars. Directed by husband-to-be Vincente Minnelli (the two were married from 1945 - 1951), with whom she made some of her best films.
3. "Meet Me in St. Louis" (1944)
Garland is simply luminous in this period musical lovingly directed by Vincente Minnelli. When she sings "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," we might just tear up a little.
2. "The Wizard of Oz" (1939)
Garland would arguably be just as big a star today if she'd only made this one movie: Her version of "Over the Rainbow" -- and her skipping down that Yellow Brick Road -- is the stuff that Hollywood magic is made of.
1. "A Star Is Born" (1954)
No disrespect to Lady Gaga, Barbra Streisand or Janet Gaynor, who all played the leading lady in other versions of this tragic story of love and fame, but Judy tops them all. Her singer-turned-superstar character wins an Oscar in this film (in a devastating scene where her drunken has-been husband upstages her) but it's one of the greatest mistakes in Oscar history that she didn't win the award in real life for this performance.