26 October 2002 | Doylenf
Overlooked dramatic musical is a triumph for Garland and Bogarde...
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.