- Over the Blah, Blah, Blah 10/20/2019 12:00:00 AM by ldavis-2
I read an anecdote once about Sid Luft and Judy Garland sitting at a restaraunt bar when she said something and he belted her in reaction, knocking her off of the stool. No one reacted as she meekly got up off the floor, and crawled back onto the stool next to him. Some years after her death, an acquaintance ran into Luft tooling around in a Mercedes: he had bagged the rights to Garland's work, and was now living large. In 2002, he was ordered to pay The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences $60,000 for attempting to sell the juvenile Oscar awarded to Garland for "The Wizard of Oz" and its replacement. Yet up until his death, Luft insisted that he was the only person who ever cared truly for Garland and had her best interests at heart.
Though "Sid & Judy" tries mightily to make Luft The Knight In Shining Armor to Garland's Damsel In Distress, it ends the charade when we are introduced to the vipers who became her managers. It then wants you to see Luft as this hapless schmo whom Freddie Fields and David Begelman push out their charge's life when, in fact, the three formed an Unholy Trinity; to protect himself, Luft recorded the telephone conversations he had with Fields, Begelman, and most everyone else in Garland's orbit without their consent.
For those with even a cursory knowledge of Garland's life, nothing in "Sid & Judy" will come as a revelation, although learning that she aborted Luft's child, as both were married (she to director Vincente Minnelli; he to actress Lynn Bari), and he being a total cad about the whole thing, was a shock. It also made me wonder why she decided to not only stay with him, but marry him.
While the focus is understandably on Garland, we don't learn anything about Luft, as if he just popped up out of absolute nowhere. I had to do some research to learn that he had been a test pilot for Douglas (now McDonnell Douglas), and was in the Royal Canadian Air Force. I also learned that while married to Garland, he lost the custody battle for his son with Bari, the judge ruling that the Luft household "was an improper place in which to rear the boy." Ouch!
Not omitted is the perfunctory exploration of Garland's addictions, which I sympathize with, yet never understood. Like Garland, Mickey Rooney was the product of show business parents who found himself a cog in the MGM soul-sucking machine before he hit puberty. The demands made on him by his overlords were just as punishing as the demands they made on her. And his private life was an even-bigger train wreck than hers, if that's at all possible. Yet Rooney didn't fall into the abyss, shuffling off his mortal coil at the ripe old age of 93, 44 years after Garland died!
The last 15 minutes are rushed, as if director Stephen Kijak had grown bored with his subjects. He jettisons Garland and Luft from their own documentary, ultimately, in favor of someone who calls himself "Miss Major Griffin-Gracy". A "trans woman activist", he prattles on about Garland being an icon for people who suffer from gender and/or sexual identity issues as we watch him and his confederates descend upon her resting place like the Army storming Normandy; "cringe-worthy" doesn't begin to describe it.
Judy Garland and - dare I say it - Sid Luft deserve better.
- Fascinating! 10/18/2019 12:00:00 AM by virginia-913-95834
Really quite fascinating doc about Judy Garland as told through archival footage and her 3rd husband's journals. Jon Hamm as the voice of Sid Lyft is exceptional - Jennifer Jason Leigh is horrific as the voice of Judy Garland (forced and distractingly bad).
Otherwise great film!
- In Their Own Words...and then some 10/20/2019 12:00:00 AM by elena-paperny99
This is an alternately heartbreaking and fascinating account of the life and times of the immensely gifted Judy Garland - in her own words, on tapes destined to be made into a book which were all but forgotten until recently. And also portrayed by actress, Jennifer Jason Leigh in voiceovers, who for some odd reason affects an awful mid-Atlantic accent - what?! Did she think she was still portraying Dorothy Parker? To agree with another reviewer, it's the only downside to the documentary.At first I thought it was Bobby Cannevale as Sid Luft, but Jon Hamm acquits himself exceptionally. Well-researched with archival footage and interviews.
- A Judy fan will gain more insight into Judy and her marriage to Sid Luft 1/3/2020 12:00:00 AM by mgmstar128
This is a fascinating documentary on Judy Garland's career and marriage to Michael Sidney Luft. What I most loved about this documentary was its presentation of rare, rare, rare footage showing Judy from A Star is Born and her 1963-1964 tv series not shown before. For example, alternate takes of Judy's second attempt (wearing a brown dress) singing "The Man That Got Away" were shown. Also shown was with an alternate take and the final version of the song where she is wearing the black dress. There are also scenes of Judy on the set of A Star is Born interacting with the crew or getting ready for a take.
As for her tv series, there were scenes of her not shown presented here that might be found on the dvds of her tv shows as shots edited out from the televised sequences. Some with guests Martha Raye, Lena Horne, and herself solo are examples.
Also presented are color home movies of Judy at her Hollywood home with Sid at the time, one of Liza as a child, and one of Judy getting out of a car she was driving and then greeting some fans.
Judy was a genius when it came to her singing talent, acting ability, and dancing skills as well. She was one of the most talented people the world has known. She was a bright woman with great incite, but she was also a woman who never seemed to grow up and face reality and accept responsibility. She allowed her mother, business managers, agents, and husbands to manage her affairs. Now I totally understand that she was busy with everything she had to do and dealing with her drug habit which kept her health in jeopardy. Emotionally, at many times in her life, she seemed to remain a child, despite being a grown adult.
However, after being burned a few times, one would think she would herself take a look at contracts, for example, and make demands on her own without anyone else there. Sid, it seems, did try to help and run her career, but what is not mentioned in this documentary is that Sid and Judy didn't file income taxes during some of those years. It has been written that Sid often spent lots of time at racetracks, but if he were really as astute and caring as he claims, how come he didn't stay on top of that? We will never know since so many people who knew them are gone forever.
In the documentary, it was stated that in 1959 Judy was told to get to a hospital immediately when she was extremely bloated and overweight with a damaged liver. If the story is true, Judy stated she would not go to the hospital without first stopping at their hotel to have a triple vodka with water. If she didn't get it, she wouldn't go. Sid gave in to her so that she would enter the hospital. As much as I admire and adore Judy's talents, I have a difficult time respecting this kind of puerile behavior. Judy was in many ways from the many, many bios I have read about her a wonderful person who loved life and laughed often. However, she turned a blind eye to things she didn't want to deal with. From Sid's words (taken from his book which I have read), he said Judy claimed she didn't want to be bothered with worrying about money. If she had had a more mature nature, perhaps she would not have ended up in the sad financial state she was in towards the end of her life.
I did learn a lot about Sid Luft and his marriage and his managing Judy's career, but I suspect that some of the more unflattering things about Sid were left out in an attempt to make him appear more faultless.
Overall, this is an excellent documentary worth seeing and buying and adding to one's own library. I recommend it without hesitation.
- Judy & Barbra! 10/19/2019 12:00:00 AM by GeoPierpont
I always thought Judy was a more powerful, engaging, enigmatic vocalist compared to the mega perfect pipes of Ms. Streisand. However, the clip of their duet was most educational. Barbra was clearly more technical with stronger range and clearer vocals than Judy. I was trying to assess why I felt the opposite.Well, when you have such a tragic life it really shines through in your interpretation of any form of words and music. Judy died so very young in obvious trauma seeped life events. Meanwhile her counterpart lives on in infamy with near perfect health. How can that be felt through the air waves? I am unable to conclusively state how but the difference is palpable. Just an observation that surprised me.Judy's final song portrayed such incredible depth and energy despite severe health issues and represents one of the most amazing talents in history. Wait till you hear how long she holds that final note, almost super human.The rest of the film concerns Luft's diary notes and provides some insight to her many career struggles as well as her affable, warm nature. The rumors of his pilfering her bank accounts were white washed and assume we may never know who stole what from whom. She didn't seem to care and guess neither do I.High recommend for her fans but certainly as a unique talent that rarely manages to touch those sentimental heartstrings. What a force!